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MONEY

Does it make financial sense to get married in France?

Yeah yeah, love, companionship, someone to take the bins out . . . But there are also some sound financial reasons to get married or enter into a civil partnership in France.

A young married couple pose on Alexandre III bridge at sunset in Paris
Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP

Most people, it’s probably safe to say, don’t immediately think about the financial pros and cons of marriage when saying ‘Yes!’ at the romantic ring moment.

But there are income tax and inheritance implications that it’s useful to at least be aware of.

Relationship regimes

This is France. Marriage is not simply a question of ‘Yes’ or not. There are several different ‘regimes’ to marriage, which dictate how property is divided up in the case of divorce, as well as inheritance issues and the like. 

A full explanation of the different regimes is available, via Notaires de France, here.

The default regime for a French marriage is communauté réduite aux acquêts. This means that property acquired during the marriage is jointly owned; property owned by one or the other before marriage and brought into the relationship is owned separately. A couple can change marriage regimes by consulting with a notaire.

A Pacs (like a civil partnership) falls under the séparation des biens regime – property bought by one or the other half is owned by them outright.

READ ALSO Compared: Marriage and civil partnership in France

People married abroad before moving to France, are deemed to fall under séparation des biens until 10 years’ residence has passed – after which future acquisitions fall under the French regime.

READ ALSO The divorce law pitfalls that foreigners in France need to be aware of

Income tax

Married couples and those in formal civil partnerships (pacsé) only complete a single income tax return form. Unmarried couples who live together and have children may declare this way, but do not have to.

This joint declaration of both incomes – beyond the hours of form-filling time saved every year – has other benefits. 

The total income declared on that joint form is reduced by a mechanism called the quotient familial. That figure is multiplied by the number of ‘parts’ that make up the family to decide the amount of income tax payable.

The larger the family, for tax purposes a single unit, the greater the quotient, or ‘parts’. Basically, a single, unmarried, taxpayer is ‘one part’. A married couple, ‘two parts’; a couple with a child under 18 ‘three parts’, and so on. 

This calculation decides the amount of income tax payable.

You can inform the tax office of any changes in your personal situation, such as getting married, entering a Pacs, or getting divorced here.

Inheritance

In inheritance terms, the surviving spouse is exempt from inheritance tax. They may also, depending on the family situation, be automatically entitled to either a portion of the estate or to remain living in the family home.

Pacs partners enjoy the same right – as long as they are listed in the deceased’s will.

An unmarried or registered partner, on the other hand, pays inheritance tax at at rate of 60 percent on any inheritance after a token allowance, currently €1,594. They have no automatic rights to property or estate.

Gift

For gifting purposes – for significant gifts, such as property – married couples, or those in a Pacs relationship, get an allowance currently worth €80,724 before taxation which rises at banded rates. Those in informal relationships get no allowance and will be taxed at 60 percent.

Of course, none of these are reasons for getting married.

We at The Local are still romantic enough to believe in the whole L-word thing. But it’s nice to know there are plenty of financial pros to go with the real reason – the only reason – for tying the knot.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

There's been plenty written on travel rules for people coming to France - but what if you live in France and have plans for international travel over the coming months? We've got you covered.

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

France isn’t currently on the Covid red list for any country, so there is nowhere that is barred to you as a French resident, but different countries still have different entry requirements.

EU/Schengen zone

If you’re travelling to a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone then it’s pretty straightforward.

If you’re fully vaccinated then all you need is proof of vaccination at the border – no need for Covid tests or extra paperwork. Bear in mind, however, that if your second dose was more than nine months ago you will need a booster shot in order to still be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

If you were vaccinated in France then you will have a QR code compatible with all EU/Schengen border systems. If you were vaccinated elsewhere, however, your home country’s vaccination certificate will still be accepted.

If you’re not fully vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border, check the individual country for requirements on how recent the test needs to be.

Bear in mind also that several EU countries still have mask/health pass rules in place and some countries specify the type of mask required, for example an FFP2 mask rather than the surgical mask more common in France. Check the rules of the country that you are travelling to in advance.

If you’re travelling to a country covered by The Local, you can find all the latest Covid rules in English on the homepages for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

UK

The UK has no Covid-related travel rules, so there is no requirement for tests even if you are not vaccinated. The passenger locator form has also been scrapped – full details HERE.

Once there, there are no Covid-related health rules in place. 

If you’re travelling between France and the UK, remember the extra restrictions in place since Brexit.

USA 

Unlike the EU, the USA still has a testing requirement in place, vaccinated or not. You would need to show this prior to departure.

It has, however, lifted the restrictions on non citizens entering, so travel to the USA for tourism and visiting friends/family is once again possible.

For full details on the rules, click HERE.

Once there, most places have lifted Covid-related rules such as mask requirements, but health rules are decided by each State, rather than on a national level, so check in advance with the area you are visiting.

Other non-EU countries

Most non-EU countries have also lifted the majority of their Covid related rules, but in certain countries restrictions remain, such as in New Zealand which is reopening its border in stages and at present only accepts certain groups.

Other countries also have domestic Covid restrictions in place, particularly in China which has recently imposed a strict local lockdown after a spike in cases.

Returning to France

Once your trip is completed you will need to re-enter France and the border rules are the same whether you live here or not.

If you’re fully vaccinated you simply need to show your vaccination certificate (plus obviously passport and residency card/visa if applicable) at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need to get a Covid test before you return and present the negative result at the border – the test must be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Home-test kits are not accepted.

If you’re returning from an ‘orange list’ country and you’re not vaccinated you will need to provide proof of your ‘essential reasons’ to travel – simply being a resident is classed as an essential reason, so you can show your carte de séjour residency card, visa or EU passport at the border.

Even if the country that you are in is reclassified as red or orange while you are away, you will still be allowed back if you are a French resident. If you’re not a French passport-holder, it’s a good idea to take with you proof of your residency in France, just in case.

Fully vaccinated

France counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ those who:

  • Are vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a booster shot if more than 9 months has passed since the final dose of your vaccine. If you have had a booster shot there is no need for a second one, even if more than 9 months has passed since your booster
  • Mixed dose vaccines (eg one Pfizer and one Moderna) are accepted 
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