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LIVING IN FRANCE

Reader Question: How do you contest a parking ticket in France?

Returned to your vehicle to find an unwelcome surprise from French officialdom on your windscreen? He’s what you need to know…

A uniformed French police officer issues a parking ticket on a car in Lille
A uniformed French police officer issues a parking ticket on a car in Lille. (Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP)

Question: I recently got a parking ticket while parked in a small town in France, but I’m sure I had parked within the regulations – how do I contest this?

Parking tickets are as much a fact of frustration for motorists in France as they are elsewhere.

You know the score. You get back to your vehicle, and there’s an unpleasant surprise on your windscreen, informing you that you’ve parked illegally and that you have a fixed penalty to pay.

The notice on your windscreen is not the actual ticket. It’s a warning that you will receive a ticket. A ‘notice of violation’ – aka the ‘ticket’ – and a payment card will be sent by mail to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner.

In theory this includes cars that are registered outside France. In practice it depends on the country and there are mixed reports on whether fines are posted out to non-French addresses. 

This document indicates the amount of the fine and how to pay or dispute the fine.

The fines are set at the following rates:

  • Improper parking : €35 (this is the one you get if you haven’t paid in a pay-and-display space, or have overstayed the allocated time)
  • Inconvenient parking : €35
  • Very inconvenient parking : €135
  • Unsafe parking: €135  – you also lose three points on your licence – remember French licences come with 12 points loaded on them, and you lose them if you commit an office. You also risk a driving ban for up to three years.

How to pay

You can pay your fine in several ways.

Online – click here

By app – yes, there’s an app for that. You can download the Amendes.gouv app from Google Play or App Store

By phone – call 0811 10 10 10 at any time. Be aware, this is a premium rate number

By post – send a cheque payable to Trésor public to the address indicated on the ticket. Make sure you include the payment card shown on the notice of violation

In person at an approved tobacconist – one of the many services offered at a French tabac is the one that allows you to pay certain fines, including parking tickets.

In person at a Centre des finances publiques

Deadlines

You must pay the fixed fine within 45 days (60 if you pay electronically) of the date on the notice of violation – otherwise the amount you have to pay will go up. NB – The fine is reduced by 20 percent if you pay within 30 days.

How to contest a parking ticket

You can raise your objection to a parking ticket online or by mail, within 45 days of the original fine being sent – or three months in the case of a fine being increased.

To contest a ticket online, click on the ANTAI website here

Note: you cannot contest a fine after paying it – paying the fine indicates you acknowledge the offence.

Or you can do so by post, by completing the exemption request form on your notice of violation.

You will need to include the notice of violation, and a letter, written on plain paper setting out the reasons for contesting the fine. Be aware, this is a formal letter, and it must be sent by registered mail, with notice of receipt (LRAR). If it is not sent by registered mail, the letter may be ignored.

Member comments

  1. I got one of these once. I arrived at the car just as he finished the ticket. I said to the Gendarme that there was no sign to say there was restricted parking (i was in a public car park). The Gendarme then took me to a tent – inside the tent was a restricted parking notice saying that from 2pm that day I could no longer park in that spot.
    I did appeal – but basically the reply was – you were parked there – pay

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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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