A new month brings new changes for people in France - we outline eight changes relating to October 2022 including a new Covid vaccination campaign, easier mortgage borrowing and a change to the cost of motorway breakdown.
1. New Covid and flu vaccine campaign
People in at-risk groups will become eligible for a booster vaccination using ‘new’ Covid vaccines adapted to fighting the Omicron variant from October 3.
The new campaign will be rolled out ahead of the usual winter flu vaccine, which is to begin on October 18.
It will be available for people aged 60 or over, people with chronic health conditions or otherwise vulnerable, pregnant women, and healthcare workers who are in contact with vulnerable people.
It comes as cases of Covid have risen significantly in the past few weeks in France, leading the Health Ministry to warn that an “eighth wave” could be imminent.
You should be able to book an appointment for a Covid booster vaccination through a vaccination centre from Monday (October 3). You can reserve an appointment via various websites such as Doctolib or ViteMaDose.
Most pharmacies around France now also offer Covid jabs and the health minister has said that the new anti-Omicron vaccines should be in stock by Monday.
- New Covid vaccine campaign to begin for at-risk groups in France
- France approves three vaccines adapted to Covid Omicron subvariants
- ‘Eighth wave of Covid imminent in France’ says health ministry
2. No fines for two-wheeled vehicles without CTs
The government has made several U-turns over the rules for the CT (contrôle technique, the equivalent of a British MOT) for two-wheeled vehicles in recent months.
In August 2021, the government said that the CT was not needed for two-wheeled vehicles, but this was later ruled by the Conseil d’État to go against European law. Directives state that two-wheelers over a certain weight must have a CT, after October 1.
However, the Ministry of Transport has said that owners of two-wheelers found to be without an up-to-date CT will not risk a fine, even after October 1, as a result of the government’s change of rules.
- Motorbikes in France will need a contrôle technique from October 1
- Will contrôles techniques on motorbikes be obligatory from October 1?
- Contrôle technique for two-wheelers: Common sense or pointless?
3. Clocks changing to winter time
The clocks will be turned back overnight from Saturday October 29 to Sunday October 30. At 03:00, the time will go back one hour to 02:00.
This means that we will technically ‘gain’ an hour, but evenings will start to become darker ‘earlier’.
Most electronic devices, such as smartphones, make the change automatically, but analog clocks will need you to manually change their time.
The European Commission found in 2018 that 84% of European citizens are in favour of ending the time change, and the majority also said they would like to stay on summer time.
MEPs have also voted to end the change, but a decision on when to do this has been postponed multiple times, most recently due to the Covid lockdowns.
Staying in summertime hours would enable people to enjoy lighter evenings all year round.
- Why does France still change the clocks despite EU vote against it?
- Europeans in favour of dropping daylight clock change
- Europe votes to end daylight savings clock changes
4. Last month for higher fuel discount
The government’s 30-centime-per-litre discount on fuel at the petrol pumps is set to last throughout October, before changing in November.
It is set to drop to 10 centimes per litre from November 1.
TotalEnergies is currently offering a 20 centime refund per litre on top of the government’s 30 cents in its service stations.
- How the French government fuel discount will change from September 1
- France confirms extra aid for frequent drivers as fuel prices soar
- Petrol prices in France: Will they continue to rise? Expert gives view
5. Set motorway assistance rates
A decree setting rates for motorway assistance has been published in the Journal officiel, the government’s legal publication.
It states that if you need a breakdown service that requires towing (to a rest or service area, to the breakdown workshop or to a location chosen by the driver), new rates will now apply.
They vary according to the weight of the vehicle and are:
- €138.01 for vehicles weighing up to 1.8 tonnes
- €170.65 for vehicles weighing more than 1.8 tonnes and less than 3.5 tonnes.
Prices are 50% higher if the emergency call is made between 18:00-08:00, or on Saturdays, Sundays, or on public holidays.
6. Luncheon voucher maximum spend increases
The maximum spend on tickets restaurant (meal or lunch vouchers) is to rise to €25 per day, up from the current €19.
This measure was brought in as part of the finance bill, with the aim of supporting the public’s purchasing power. The increase had initially been scheduled to take effect from September 1.
Similarly, since August 18, the list of items that can be bought with meal vouchers has been extended to include food products that require cooking, such as pasta, rice, fish, and meat.
7. Banque de France to make borrowing easier
The Banque de France is set to raise the base rate (taux d’usure) for mortgage applications in a “proportional way” and in agreement with the Finance Ministry, it has said.
In a statement, it added: “This will allow, as the law states, to smooth out the difficult access to credit that has arisen in the past few weeks.”
The taux d’usure is the maximum rate at which a loan can be granted. It is in place to regulate interest rates and to protect borrowers from taking loans or mortgages that could leave them in financial difficulty.
It is set each quarter by the Banque de France as a percentage.
When a potential buyer goes to a bank to ask for a mortgage, the bank will calculate the annual percentage rate of charge (APRC) of a loan, which includes the basic interest rate as well as loan insurance payments, premiums and other fees.
This APRC of a loan cannot exceed the taux d’usure, which has fixed values set as percentages.
From July 1, the taux d’usure for a fixed-rate loan over a 20-year period and more was fixed at 2.57%. On October 1, this legal minimum for property loans will rise to 3.05%.
This change should, in theory, make it easier to be granted bank loans, especially mortgages or loans for house purchases.
8. Changes to two legal guarantees to the advantage of customers
Starting October 1, there will be changes to the rules about two guarantees that cover purchases in France, the garantie légale de conformité and the garantie des vices cachés. These changes are to be implemented by sellers to the advantage of purchasers.
All products sold in France - including digital subscriptions - are guaranteed by a protection called the garantie légale de conformité.
This guarantee is two years for all new products and, since January this year, one year for all second-hand products. This guarantee must be mentioned on all shop receipts.
It means that if, for example, you buy a new iPad but discover on delivery that it has a fault, is the wrong colour or does not match the general description provided by the seller, you can return it to the shop and you are fully covered.
There is another similar type of guarantee called the garantie des vices cachés. This is for if you buy a product – whether from a professional shop or a private seller – and it contains a hidden fault that renders the product defective.
The garantie légale de conformité has a wider scope than the garantie des vices cachés because it covers one or two years after the purchase, meaning that if a defect develops within that time frame you are covered.
For the garantie des vices cachés you have to prove that the product was defective before you bought it. It is in your interest to use the garantie des vices cachés if you want to legally rescind a sale.
In October, sellers will be obliged to inform customers about these two guarantees at the point of sale. They will also have to make a clear distinction between the terms garantie légale and garantie commerciale, with the latter a guarantee provided by the shop, usually for a certain price paid up front or monthly.
For digital purchases, for example subscriptions to digital platforms, phone applications, software, etc. there is now an obligation to include new information on any security updates that will be required. For example, the amount of storage they will require and the duration of the update.
Various other obligations will enter into force to allow customers to better understand their rights in terms of the various legal guarantees that exist in France.