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Recap: 14 changes and updates for residents in France in February

Changes include key dates on Covid rules, EU Covid passes, holidays, pension bonuses, interest on saving accounts, sales and more

Pensioners’ bonus, easing Covid restrictions, school holidays and frozen electricity bills are just some of the changes happening in France in February Pic: Younes Stiller Kraske / r.classen / Qilin's prance Filmmaker / flyingv3 / Shutterstock

Each month brings a series of new changes in France. We summarise the most relevant and important dates for February 2022.

1. Retirees to receive €100 one-off bonus

Around 12 million retirees who receive less than €2,000 net per month are set to get a one-off bonus of €100 in the coming days.

The ‘inflation bonus’, payments of which have been staggered according to the profession or situation of people with the same income threshold, began in mid-December and is intended to help combat rising prices in everyday goods.

Qualifying private sector and freelance workers should have received their bonus in December and jobseekers in January.

This month, eligible retirees will receive their payment by direct bank transfer (or possibly cheque).
Read more: Emails from French DGFiP about €100 inflation bonus – are they scams?

The €100 sum will not arrive as part of the normal pension payment, but by separate transfer (or cheque).

People on foreign pensions which are taxable in France are also eligible for the €100 indemnité inflation bonus.

Those concerned, who should have pension income of less than €2,000 net a month (after social charges), will receive their inflation bonus money on Friday, February 4, the same day as payments made to travailleurs frontaliers (cross-border workers).

Read more: UK state pensioners can now get France’s €100 inflation bonus

Read more: €100 for people in France with income of less than €2,000 a month 

2. Covid rules to ease, masks no longer required outside

The government is to begin easing Covid restrictions tomorrow (February 2). Mask-wearing will no longer be obligatory outside, and remote working will become advisable rather than mandatory for workers for whom this is possible. 

Capacity limits will be lifted at sports and cultural events (current limits are 2,000 people indoors, and 5,000 people outdoors). However, masks will still be obligatory at these events.

Until February 15, people who have already received their first vaccine can get a vaccine pass immediately, if they also get a negative Covid test (which will remain valid for 24 hours), and commit to getting a second dose within one month.

From February 16, nightclubs will reopen and standing concerts will be allowed once again, as will the consumption of alcohol while standing in bars.

Read more: The five dates in France's new plan to ease Covid rules 

3. Interest rate doubles on Livret A savings account 

The interest rate on Livret A tax-free instant-access savings accounts doubles from 0.5% to 1% today (February 1). This is the first rise in 10 years.

As a result, interest rates on other accounts will also rise: Le Livret de développement durable et solidaire (LDDS) will also be at 1%, while the Livret d'épargne populaire (LEP) will rise to 2.2%. The Livret jeune will also rise in tandem.

A Livret A account is free to open and can be created by anyone, regardless of age or nationality. The funds contained in it, which are limited to €22,950, are protected. Only one such account is allowed per person.

Read more: Interest rates on tax-free bank accounts in France to increase

4. Booster doses needed for easier travel within EU

People travelling to other EU countries from France now need to have a booster vaccine dose within nine months of their second in order to ensure ease of travel. 

The rule updates the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) scheme, which seeks to harmonise Covid travel restrictions around the bloc.

It means that people who want to travel within the EU and avoid heavier restrictions (such as extra tests and quarantines), will have to get a booster dose within nine months of their previous jab in order to do so, unless they take a pre-departure Covid test. 

Read more: Booster Covid dose needed for travel within EU from February 1

5. Motorway péage costs to rise

The price of péages (tolls on roads) will rise this month, as is usual every year. In 2021, the increase was only 0.44%, but from today (February 1), it is set to rise by just over 2% on average.

For example, Autoroutes du Sud de la France said tariffs on their 2,627 kilometres of road would rise by 2.19%, while Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône said rates for its 1,812km would rise by 2.05%. The Vinci group which manages several French motorways however has announced it is freezing the rise on many routes for short journeys.

Read more: French motorway network announces freeze on most short-trip toll costs

6. Property owners get extra time to declare rental incomes

Under previous laws, landlords would have needed to choose between the ‘régime BIC’ or ‘micro-BIC’ in order to declare their revenue before today (February 1). But new laws mean that they will not have to do this until they actually declare their personal income revenue.

Owners with an income of less than €72,600 per year will be automatically counted under the micro-BIC system, which means they may have lower payments.

7. More manageable electricity cost rises

Electricity costs had been predicted to soar by 44.5% today (February 1), according to independent energy commission la Commission de régulation de l'énergie (CRE), but the government has stepped in to limit the rise to 4% for 2022.

This will mean an extra €38 per household for the year, on average, compared to a possible €330. The government has also assured consumers that the price of gas will not explode, despite soaring prices on international markets.

Read more: EDF to sell more cheap electricity to competitors to keep prices low

Read more: French EDF workers strike over government efforts to keep prices down

8. Taxi costs frozen in government review

The minimum charge for taxis will remain the same in 2022, at €7.30, after being reviewed by the government.

Taxi fares are capped at: 

  • €4.18 for pick-up

  • €1.12 per kilometre travelled

  • €37.46 for the hourly rate for waiting time (if booked by the customer) or slow progress

  • For Paris taxis, the extras are €4 for immediate booking and €7 for advance booking.

These rates were confirmed in a decree in December, and come into effect today. 

Read more about: Can taxis from Paris airports charge more for extra passengers?

9. Census taking place until mid-February

The census currently taking place will continue until February 19 for towns with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, and until February 26 for larger towns.

Although it was cancelled in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic, it usually takes place every year in big towns, and every five years in smaller settlements.

It is possible to respond to the census online, and national statistics institute Insee (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques) has said that this will be the preferable mode of communication this year. 

Completing the necessary forms by internet will reduce the number of people coming into contact with each other and with the same documents, as well as simplifying the system.

“Census officials will leave explanatory notices in letterboxes for people who choose to complete the census online, with access codes to the Le recensement et moi website,” the institute has said.

Read more: Census restarts in France: How will it work amid Covid restrictions? 

Read more: Do second home-owners need to take part in France’s 2022 census?

10. Maximum ticket-resto amount extended 

The maximum amount that can be paid by tickets-restaurant (luncheon vouchers) will be kept at €38 for restaurant settings only until February 28. This is aimed at boosting the restaurant sector which has been hard hit by the pandemic.

It will also be possible to use the vouchers on weekends until this date.

Tickets-resto can also be used for takeaway click-and-collect and delivery services.

In supermarkets the maximum amount that can be used in a day remains limited to €19. 

Vouchers distributed in 2021 can continue to be used until the end of the month, or alternatively employees can take them to their employer in return for tickets-resto valid for the whole of 2022.

11. New parents given ‘baby boxes’ of essential items

This month, new parents in France will begin to be given ‘baby boxes’ containing items aimed at guiding them and their baby through the first 1,000 days of life.

The ‘box’ – which will in reality be a sling bag – will contain a baby sleeping bag, which will help parents to learn about the best way to put their newborn to bed safely, avoiding accidents with blankets or pillows.

A scrapbook will also help to teach parents about their child’s artistic and cultural awakening, encouraging them to read to their baby even before they go to school or nursery.

A bar of soap will promote the use of natural products and make parents aware of issues relating to endocrine disrupting chemicals. 

Finally, a moisturising cream will remind the mother of the need to take care of herself as well as her baby.

Read more: France to give ‘baby box’ of essential items to new parents

12. School holidays begin

School holidays will begin across the country this month with the dates varying by area. 

Zone A: Friday February 11 to Sunday February 27 

Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers

Zone B: Friday February 4 to Sunday February 20

Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Normandie, Orléans-Tours, Reims, Rennes, Strasbourg

Zone C: Friday February 18 to Sunday March 6

Créteil, Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse, Versailles

13. Official sales to end

The official ‘Soldes’ are set to end on February 8, after having started in most places on January 12. Since 2020, the sales period has been shortened from six weeks to four.

Towards the end of the sales, discounts can reach as much as 70%, although the choice of goods is, of course, likely to be far smaller.
Sale dates are regulated in France.
Read more: Here are France's winter sales dates for 2022 (they are regulated) 

Read more: Winter sales 2022 begin today in France: Know your rights 

14. Cigarette and tobacco prices to rise in some cases

The price of some tobacco products will rise this month. This includes Austin tobacco pouches, which will now cost 30 centimes as opposed to 20. 

Fortuna Cool and JPS Cool cigarettes will also cost 10 centimes more, increasing from €9.70 to €9.80. 

Gauloises bleues and rouges will now be priced at €10 rather than €9.90. 

Further information can be found in a Douanes françaises tariffs document.

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