What changes in France in January 2022

A woman wearing a facemask walks past a storefront advertising discounts, on the first day of the winter sales in France
The winter sales start this month across France. Photo: Thomas Coex / AFP
As a new year begins there are lots of changes in France in January, from new health and Brexit rules to lots of new laws as well as sales and a festival with special cake.

New Year – January 1st, New Year’s Day, is a public holiday in France. Unfortunately this year it falls on a Saturday, which means no extra day off work. Monday, January 3rd, is a normal working day here. In fact, 2022 is not a good year for public holidays in France. Sorry.

Epiphany – Thursday, January 6th marks the Christian festival of epiphany. This is not a public holiday in France (unlike neighbouring Spain where they go mad for the Three Kings), but the day is marked with a special cake – the Galette des rois – which has a lot of fun and complicated rituals for consumption.

Galette des rois: Everything you need to know about France’s royal tart

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Health rules – there are also changes to Covid-related rules that come into effect in January, from compulsory work-from home to changes to self-isolation and – in many areas including Paris – the return of mask rules for outdoor areas including the street.

Sales – The winter sales across most of France run from Monday, January 12th, to Tuesday, February 8th. The sales in Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Meuse and Vosges run from Monday, January 3rd, to Sunday, January 30th.

Brexit – Britons who have been full-time residents in France since before December 31st 2020 must be in possession of a carte de séjour residency card by January 1st, 2022. From this date you can legally be asked for the card in a range of situations.

What changes for Brits in France in 2022?

Health Pass to Vaccine Pass – From January 15th, everyone over the age 18 who is eligible to receive a booster dose must receive one within a fixed period to be considered fully vaccinated – while the current Health Pass is set to become a vaccine pass. (provided parliament agrees). Find out how to book your booster dose HERE.

Schools go back – School holidays end on Monday, January 3rd across the whole country. There had been speculation that the return to school could be delayed in order to cut Covid infection rates, but the government has said that further disrupting children’s education would be a last resort.

European Union – France officially takes over presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months on January 1st.

Minimum wage – France’s minimum wage – known as SMIC – goes up 0.9 percent on January 1st – meaning a full-time worker will receive €1,603 gross, or €1,269 net per month, a take-home increase of €38 every month compared to the last increase on October 1st. The gross hourly rate will be €10.57. The basic state pension, meanwhile, will go up 1.1 percent.

Postage fees increase – Sending letters in France is set to become more expensive from January 1st. A green stamp, for a letter delivered in 48 hours in metropolitan France, will cost €1.16, compared to the previous price of €1.08, while the red stamp, for priority letters, will rise from €1.28 to €1.43.

New laws

There are also a whole raft of new laws that come into effect from January 1st. Here’s a summary of the main ones.

Mortgages – The maximum term for a mortgage in France will be limited to 25 years, while the amount of income that a household can devote to repaying it will increase from 33 percent to 35 percent – including the cost of insurance.

Car pollution taxes – from January 1st, anyone buying a new car that emits more than 128g of carbon dioxide per kilometre will have to pay a €50 one-off tax when they register the vehicle. Equally, vehicles weighing more than 1.8 tonnes will be taxed €10 per kilogramme over the limit.

New public service for eco-renovation – From January 1st, a new public service called France Renov’  becomes active. It is essentially an advice service for people looking to make energy efficient renovations to their homes. A number of low interest loans, available to anyone over the age of 15, will be made available for this purpose. 

Free contraception for women under 25 – All women under the age of 25 will be entitled to free contraception from January 1st. Previously only minors were entitled to this. Some 3 million women will benefit from the new measure. Read our explainer on the reform HERE

A&E fees – anyone who is treated at A&E in France but not admitted to hospital for further treatment will be charged a flat fee of €19.61 at the time of discharge, known as the forfait patient urgences (FPU) a fee that will usually be covered by the patient’s top-up health insurance.

Mon espace santé – Following a pilot study in three departments, “Mon espace santé” will be available to everyone from January. It is intended to facilitate procedures and exchanges with healthcare professionals for better care, and will replace the Dossier médical partagé (DMP).

Better protections for digital consumers – If you are an avid purchaser or mobile apps, digital subscriptions (including streaming services) and video games, then this is good news. A new law that comes into force on January 1st means that you can ask for compensation, replacement or repair if the product doesn’t conform to the description given pre-purchase. The law also means that any digital good purchased must not require new software updates for continued use. Consumers must be informed of planned software updates.

Culture pass expanded – The French culture pass is being extended to 15-17 year olds, whereas previously, only 18-year-olds could benefit. This scheme is designed to allow young people, with EU nationality, to receive money to benefit from cultural activities in France. It is free to sign up. French schools will also receive a certain amount of money, per month, per student, to facilitate cultural excursions. 

Water, water – Surprisingly, this is not mandatory already … From January 1st, anyone who is thirsty need only ask at a bar or restaurant for a free glass of water. “Food and beverage establishments are required to visibly indicate on their menu or on a display space the possibility for consumers to request free drinking water.”

Many restaurants, especially in Paris, charge a lot for mineral water, so if you’re happy to drink tap water with your meal – and it’s perfectly safe – make sure you ask for une carafe d’eau or un pichet d’eau to avoid being brought expensive mineral water.

READ ALSO Six things to know about tap water in France

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