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EXPLAINED: Is France really scrapping paper shopping receipts?

The Local France
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EXPLAINED: Is France really scrapping paper shopping receipts?
A receipt and a shopping cart at the exit of a supermarket in France. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP)

Shopping in France may be a bit different for consumers starting August 1st, when the country will stop automatically printing sales receipts at most stores.


Starting on August 1st, if you are shopping in France, the cashier will not automatically print out a receipt for you.

If you want a receipt, you will need to request one (see below for some handy vocab). 

France's minister for small businesses, Olivia Grégoire, told Le Parisien that the change will not be sudden, but will be rolled out "progressively".

The change was initially meant to come into force in April but was postponed by the government with ministers not wanting to introduce it in the midst of the cost of living crisis.

Is the alternative to the paper receipt no receipt at all?

Automatic paper receipts are being done away with, but customers still have a choice. Most stores will offer a digital receipt. Usually this would come in the form of an email, SMS or QR code. In some French stores that have their own mobile phone application, they may offer to put your receipt in your personal space on the app. 

READ MORE: Repair bonus to plastic bans: How France's anti-waste laws work

Which stores are to be affected by the change?

The new regulation regarding printed receipts will apply to "all sales outlets and establishments open to the public" according to the French government. 


It will also affect receipts produced by vending machines, as well as the automatic printing of advertising materials or discounts and coupons.

Each retailer will be required to inform customers about the change with a "legible and comprehensive" sign at payment points.

Nevertheless - some shops and purchases have been excluded from the new plan. For instance, hairdressers and some other businesses offering a service will continue to print receipts automatically in order to show proof that the labour was performed, according to Le Parisien. 

Customers will also continue to receive an automatic paper receipt when purchasing 'durable goods' - meaning those where a legal framework guarantees a warranty. This usually applies to items like furniture, sports gear and electronic items. In this case, the receipt will continue to work as proof of purchase in case the product is defective or if there is need for repair, reimbursement or exchange.

Bank card receipts for cancelled or failed transactions will still be printed. 


As for bills (factures) - including those given out at restaurants and cafés - these are not under the same category as receipts (les tickets) and will continue to be printed. As such, you can still expect to receive a bill after eating out.

The change comes after payment - you will not automatically receive the paper receipt, which would normally serve as proof of purchase, unless you expressly ask for one.

What about returns?

It is likely that many stores, such as clothing shops, will continue requiring some form of receipt for returns and exchanges as well.

If you're buying something pricey, you may want to ask for a receipt - either paper or digital - in case you need to return it.

Before purchasing items, be sure to ask about the store's return policy. You can consult the vocabulary guide below.  

Only certain items are covered under the mandatory two-year warranty in France (the garantie légale de conformité). If the item you bought is faulty and does not fall under this umbrella, then you have two options - you can go to the store with proof of purchase (either a paper or digital receipt) or contact customer service directly.

If you are still having issues, then you can send a letter (via lettre recommandée) detailing the problem to the store and if they do not respond then you can refer the issue to body intended to handle such disputes between consumers and retailers - the 'Mediation du Commerce et de la Distribution'.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to get a refund on faulty goods in France

For instance, wine is not subject to a legally mandated warranty, so if you buy a bottle that is corked, you can still follow the procedure outlined above, which would include explicitly informing the retailer via registered mail about the corked wine and requesting a refund or exchange. 

What about anti-theft verification?

According to the French government website Service-Public, if the consumer does not request a receipt then purchases can be verified on the individual checkout screens which log what was paid for.

Why is this happening?

It is part of a French anti-waste law which was voted on in 2020. 

According to Service-Public, there are at least 30 billion sales receipts printed each year, creating lots of waste.

Parts of the anti-waste law have already come into effect, outlawing things like single-use plastic cutlery and coffee and cups and limiting packaging on food.

READ ALSO Repair bonus to plastic bans: How France's anti waste laws work

What vocabulary do I need to know about receipts in France?


Receipt - ticket de caisse, un reçu

Non-printed receipt/ e-ticket - ticket de caisse dématérialisé

Waste - Gaspillage

Could I please have a receipt printed? - Est-ce que je pourrais avoir un reçu imprimé ?

Could I please have a receipt by text message? - Est-ce que je pourrais avoir le ticket de caisse par SMS ? 

Could I please have a receipt by email? - Est-ce que je pourrais avoir le ticket de caisse par mail ? 

I have a loyalty card. Could you please upload the receipt to the online portal/ application? - J'ai une l carte de fidélité. Est-ce que vous pouvez envoyer le ticket de caisse dans mon espace personnel dans l'application ?

What is your return policy? Will I need to show a receipt? - Quelle est votre politique de retour ? Dois-je présenter un reçu ?


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