Do small businesses in France still have to accept cash?

In the work section of The Connexion October edition, we answer a reader question on whether small businesses in France must accept cash payments from customers.

8 October 2020
Piles of euro cents. Article: Do small businesses in France still have to accept cash payments? Photo by Ibrahim Rifath / UnsplashDo small businesses in France still have to accept cash payments? Ibrahim Rifath / Unsplash
By Connexion Journalist

I run a small business and sometimes clients want to pay in cash. Must I accept?

Cash is the only form of payment you cannot refuse from a client and if you do refuse, you may be fined €150. With coronavirus, some shops began to refuse cash for fear of handling infected money, but they had no right to do so. Not everyone, especially those in precarious circumstances, has a cheque book or bank card, and the law is designed to protect them.

Some also argue that cash is a protection of confidentiality, against surveillance of spending habits by firms and banks. Even so, there are situations when you can say no to cash payments. There is a ceiling of €1,000 from clients who are resident and pay taxes in France, or from overseas clients if the payment is connected with their professional activity.

If the client is tax-resident in another country and the payment is not connected to their business, they can pay in cash up to €15,000. You do not have to accept more than 50 coins in a single payment, however. Also, if you are not able to give correct change, it is up to the client to come up with the exact amount. You can refuse damaged cash which may be refused by the Banque de France and forged money.

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For purchases between members of the public, such as selling a secondhand car, there is no limit on the amount of cash the buyer can give and the seller can accept, as long as there is a written trace, such as a bill, if the amount is equal to or above €1,500.

Businesses can refuse payment by cheque or bank card as long as this is made clear by either informing clients in advance or by putting up notices in retail outlets. They can also put conditions on payments by cheque or bank card. For example, they can ask for proof of identity from the client or they can set a minimum payment on a bank card to make sure expenses for the transaction are covered.

There is one exception. A taxi driver cannot refuse payment by bank card, however small or large the fare. This does not apply to minicabs.

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