SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

If you want to send Christmas presents to friends and family overseas you need to know the deadline dates and how to avoid being hit with extra charges - here's what you need to know.

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

Deadlines

First things first, you need to make sure your parcel arrives in time for Christmas, which means sending it before the deadline.

The French postal service La Poste has the following deadlines;

In Europe

If you’re sending a parcel within France, the deadline to have it delivered by Christmas is December 23rd. 

If you’re sending to the UK or Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spanish islands (eg Tenerife), Croatia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Malta, Norway, Portuguese islands (eg Madeira) or Romania you have until December 16th.

If you’re sending to Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden or Switzerland you have until December 17th.

If you’re sending to Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Portugal you have until December 19th.

Outside Europe

If you’re sending to the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Hong Kong you have until December 10th. Likewise if you’re sending to most French overseas territories, the deadline is December 10th.

For most other countries the deadline is December 3rd, but you can find the full list here

Private couriers like Fed-Ex and DPD have their own deadlines, although they are broadly in line with La Poste, and if you’re buying online each company has its own deadline on when it can guarantee a Christmas delivery.

Fees and customs declarations

If you’re sending parcels to another EU country then it’s pretty straightforward – just pay the delivery cost (you can check how much it will be to send via La Poste here) and make sure you send it before the deadline.

If, however, you are sending to a country outside the EU (which of course now includes the UK) then you will need to fill out a customs declaration form explaining what is in your parcel and whether it is a gift or not.

In addition to standard postal charges, you may also need to pay customs duties, depending on the value or your parcel and whether it is a gift or not. 

Find full details on customs duty rules HERE.

Banned items

And there are some items that are banned from the post – if you’re sending parcels to the US be aware that you cannot send alcohol through the mail as a private individual, so don’t try a ship some nice French wine or a bottle of your local liqueur. 

Most countries ban firearms and fireworks, not unreasonably, although be aware that this includes items like sparklers.

Sending food and plants is also often restricted with countries including Canada and Australia having strict rules and most other countries imposing restrictions on what you can send.

This also applies the other way and France bans any foodstuffs containing animal products (eg chocolate) sent from outside the EU. 

SHOW COMMENTS