Pay fines, taxes and bills at over 5,000 tabacs

Fines and some bills and taxes can be now be paid at 5,100 bureaux de tabac after a successful trial scheme was extended countrywide.

28 July 2020
By Brian McCulloch

The new system makes use of the QR flash codes now included in a lot of government paperwork.

Scanned in the tabac by the same system used for lottery tickets, they will show how much money needs to be paid and open up a screen so the payment can be registered.

Up to €300 in cash can be used for the payments, or higher amounts can be taken from a bank card.

Buralistes (people who run tabacs) have been sworn to confidentiality about any details of fines or bills they might see.

The scheme was trialled first in 18 departments where everything apparently worked without a hitch, before being extended nationwide.

Scheme followed gilets jaunes protests

It came after the government pledged to make contact with the state easier after the gilets jaunes protests which started in late 2018 and paralysed the country.

A tender to provide payment services was issued when it was realised that the decision to move payment of taxes and other government bills online had angered many people who did not want to use mobile phones or who did not have computers in the home.

After a fierce battle, bureau de tabac trade body Confédération des buralistes, along with betting organisation la Française des Jeux (which sells lottery tickets and scratch cards in tabacs) won the tender against strong competition, notably from La Poste.

Many buralistes have been urging the government to compensate them for falling cigarette sales but the government denied that this had influenced its choice.

The 5,100 bureaux de tabac offering the payment service, spread over 3,400 communes, are roughly a quarter of the 22,000 tabacs who also have FDJ lottery terminals.

Bills covered by the system include school canteens, state crèche payments and hospital bills.

The Economy Ministry said the measure was designed to help the roughly 500,000 people in France who do not have bank accounts, as well as people with mobility difficulties or who do not feel comfortable using the internet.

During the trial, 54% of the payments were for local bills, 38% for fines and 8% for taxes.

Did you know?

The sale of tobacco remains a state monopoly in France, first created by Louis XIV in 1674.

In the 19th century licenses to run bureaux de tabac were only awarded to ex-servicemen, discharged with clean records, or servicemen’s widows or orphans. This system was ended in 1906 but it is still common though to find bureaux de tabac run by ex-military personnel.

Read more about France's bureaux de tabac

Make sense of the Trésor Public - and why part of its work is now being done by bars-tabacs

Why the tabac sign is carrot-shaped

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