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How to access French government grants for wood-fired heating

Households in France who heat their homes primarily with wood or wood-pellets can apply for government assistance to help combat rising energy prices from December 27th.

How to access French government grants for wood-fired heating
A fire burns in a wood stove, in western France. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

As of Tuesday, households in France who heat their homes primarily with wood are able to apply an energy cheque (or voucher) from French government to help combat soaring wood prices. 

For those who qualify, this wood-specific energy aid would be in addition to the government’s one-time “energy cheque” – meant to help people combat rising energy costs and inflation – which was sent out to 12 million households across France in mid-December. 

READ MORE: French MPs back €230m aid for households that use wood-burners for heating

The website allowing families to apply for the wood energy cheque (chèque énergie bois) became available to eligible households – representing approximately 2.6 million people in France – on December 27th at 8am. 

In order to benefit from the payment, those who heat primarily using wood can apply with the Agency of Services and Payments at the website chequeboisfioul.asp-public.fr. The online portal will remain open until April 30th.

Households will also need to provide “a nominative invoice proving a wood purchase of at least €50 (or a certificate for households with collective heating),” a representative from the Ministry of the Economy told Le Parisien.

The amount offered will be means-tested and will range from €50 to €200. The first round of grants will be available in mid-February, according to the French Ministry of the Economy.

READ MORE: Heating homes: What are the rules on fires and log burners in France?

This aid will also be available to households that heat their homes primarily using wood-pellet stoves – once again, based on individual financial situation. This government assistance will be capped at payments of €200 for families on the lowest incomes.

Gabriel Attal, the minister of public accounts, told Le Parisien in November that the maximum amount an individual could receive in aid – in total, over a series of cheques – would be €2,260. For families with two children, the maximum is capped at €4,750.

The wood energy cheque is not to be confused with the government assistance for families who heat their homes with fuel oil – or le chèque énergie exceptionnel – opération fioul in French. This separate payment cannot be combined with the wood energy cheque. Applying for access to the fuel-oil energy assistance can be done through the same online portal (HERE) and will also require a receipt or invoice showing the purchase of fuel oil.

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MONEY

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.

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