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LIVING IN FRANCE

Travel, cake and taxes: 6 essential articles for life in France

From a glimmer of hope for UK travellers to the France's high-speed internet plans, via one final Christmas treat, here's our pick of six recent articles that will help you to better understand life in France.

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French internet coverage and mobile roaming charges in the EU were among our recent headlines. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP

After tightening travel restrictions to and from the UK the weekend before Christmas in an ultimately failed attempt to stop the Omicron variant sweeping across France, the French government this week decided to relax some of its travel measures.

The first raft of changes are relatively small, and focus on a slight enlargement of France’s “essential travel” category. So, for now some questions remain – and we’ve done our best to answer as many as we can.

When will France fully lift travel restrictions on the UK?

Throughout the pandemic, with all its travel restrictions, curfews, work from home rules and lockdown (remember Spring 2020?), online communication exploded. Meetings took place via Zoom, while Slack took the online intra-business chat world by storm. Streaming video on demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus picked up subscribers by the bucketload. 

Now, France claims to have the widest high-speed internet coverage of any country in Europe. Two-thirds of French households currently have access to high-speed internet. The government wants to ensure that 80 percent of French households will have access by the end of 2022 and that the entire country is covered by 2025. 

So we asked the obvious question: Is France’s plan for nationwide high-speed internet by 2025 on track? If you live in a bit of France that currently does not benefit from high-speed internet access, you may be surprised.

And we found that France’s electronic communications regulator, ARCEP, knows when the remaining 33 percent of the country will join the high-speed internet revolution.

MAP: When will my part of rural France get high-speed internet?

Meanwhile, as UK mobile phone network operators get ready to reintroduce roaming charges, while most EU operators seem set to keep the ‘free to roam’ status quo we outline what new charges are in store for travellers from the UK to France and beyond.

How roaming charges will hit travellers between the UK and EU in 2022

Christmas may be over for another year, as the French return to work – but they don’t  like to let the festive period go without one final hurrah. Cue Epiphany, officially the Christian holiday commemorating the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus. 

In France, that’s an excuse to put off the diet just a while longer and enjoy one last blowout on a delicious galette des rois. Or two. Or three. Sadly, there’s a higher price this year than your expanding waistline…

Why the French Galette des Rois is getting more expensive

Speaking of paying the piper, here are a few important financial dates for your diaries in 2022.

The French tax calendar for 2022 – which taxes are due when?

Finally, from Brits needing residency cards to free contraception, here are some of the changes coming to France this year you should know about. 

What changes in France in 2022?

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PROPERTY

What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

The annual demands for property taxes have begun arriving at households across France - and many people will notice quite a difference to last year's bill.

What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

Every year in September and October the French tax office sends out bills to households across France relating to property taxes – these are separate to income tax bills, which arrive over the summer.

The autumn bills are usually made up of three parts; taxe foncière, taxe d’habitation and the redevance audiovisuelle.

However, system changes to all three parts mean that for some people bills will be be much lower than last year, while others will have nothing at all to pay.

Here’s what changes;

Redevance audiovisuelle – this was the TV licence and was charged at €138 per household, with some exceptions for pensioners or people who had no TV.

This year, it has been scrapped for everyone (including second-home owners) so most people’s bills are €138 less than last year.

Taxe d’habitation – this is the householder’s tax, paid by the inhabitant of the property – whether you rent it or own it. This is gradually being phased out, a process that started in 2019. It has been done based on income, with those on lower incomes having the charge scrapped first until it is gradually scrapped for everyone – with the exception of very high earners and second home owners.

So depending on your income level, you may have already had the tax phased out, or it may be phased out for you this year, or you may be paying a reduced rate this year.

These two changes are part of a tax giveaway from president Emmanuel Macron, and at the bottom of your tax bill you will find a note explaining how the charges have changed this year, and what you would have paid without the reductions.

It will look something like this;

Taxe foncière – this is the property owners’ tax and is paid on any property that you own – if you own the home you live in you may need to pay both taxe d’habitation and taxe foncière and if you are a second-home owner you will also pay both.

In contrast to the other two taxes, however, this one has been going up in many areas.

In fact, it’s connected to the taxe d’habitation cut – local authorities used to benefit from taxe d’habitation, so the phasing out has left many of them short of money. In some areas, they have reacted by raising taxe foncière.

This tax is calculated based partly on the size and value of the property you own (which is why if you do any major renovations or add a swimming pool you need to tell the tax office) and partly on the tax level decided by your local authority. 

This means that the actual rate varies quite widely between different parts of France, but in some areas it has gone up by 20 percent.

You can find more about how the tax is calculated, and how to challenge your bill if you think it is excessive, HERE.

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