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Speeding fines, dental fees: New changes you may have missed in France

A number of announcements made in June are already in force or are set to be implemented later in the year

We look at key changes to France in June that you may have missed Pic: PhotoSGH / lassedesignen / BreizhAtao / Sergey Novikov / Shutterstock

What you might have missed 

Below are six changes that came into force last month you may not have noticed when they were originally announced.

They range from the introduction of new schemes, alongside the prolongment of existing ones.

1. Online cancellation of contracts 

New legislation has taken effect that obliges insurance companies to let clients cancel their contracts online ‘in three clicks’, whether they signed up online or in a branch. 

This includes contracts that predate the new legislation. 

This obligation also applies to other sectors, such as phone and electricity contracts. 

Websites should now feature a Résilier votre contrat (Cancel your contract) button. 

Firms have until September 1 to comply with the new rules. 

Read more: Why cancelling insurance in France should soon be quicker and easier

2. Roaming fees 

EE has become the latest UK network provider to introduce roaming charges for customers travelling in the EU. 

It applies to pay-as-you-go plans, as EE had already introduced charges for pay-monthly clients who joined or upgraded from July 7, 2021. 

Vodafone and Three are also among the companies to charge for data roaming now the UK has left the EU, but others, including O2, do not. 

Read more: Tips on how to avoid mobile phone roaming charges when in France

3. Bike loans 

French banks CIC and Crédit Mutuel have launched a programme of interest-free loans of up to €6,000 to help clients purchase a bicycle. 

The bike can be new or used, electric or not. 

You apply at your local branch. 

The offer will last until the end of 2024 and can be combined with the government’s Bonus vélo grants, which are available to the almost 50% of French households that are classed as being in the lowest income brackets. 

Read more: Does France still offer aid to buy an electric bike?

4. Sports grant 

The €50 help towards sports club fees has been extended to commercial sports centres, such as gyms, climbing walls, and skating rinks. 

Some 6.7 million young people are eligible for the Pass’Sport: those who receive the ARS back-to-school allowance, the AEEH benefit for children with disabilities, the AAH for adults with disabilities, and students who receive a bursary. 

They should receive an email from the Sports Ministry in the second half of August, with a code to use when signing up. 

Read more: New Pass’Sport grant in France helps children get fit for free

5. Trains from Spain 

Spain’s state-owned rail operator Renfe will begin running trains between Barcelona and Lyon on July 13, while its Madrid-Marseille route will launch on July 28. 

Tickets are already on sale from €19 from certain French stations, or €29 from Marseille or Lyon. 

The trains will stop in French towns including Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier and Perpignan. 

Read more: Boost for southern France as launch dates set for new ‘TGV’ routes

6. Rent cap extension 

The cap on annual rent increases at 3.5% is expected to be extended until March 31 next year. 

The cap was introduced in 2022 to prevent rents from spiralling out of control with inflation and was due to end on June 30 this year. 

MPs voted in favour of the extension, but it must still be approved by the Senate. 

Read more: How do I know if flat listing respects French rent control rules?

What will change

Below are seven announcements for changes that will come into effect by the end of the month, later in the year, or even in 2024

Regulated gas tariff 

France’s fixed, regulated gas tariff will be abolished on June 30. 

Engie clients who have not yet signed up for a market-rate contract will be automatically transferred to a transitional passerelle (bridge) offer. 

The gas ‘energy shield’, limiting the increase of gas bills by more than 15%, will also end on July 1.

Read more: Tips and help on navigating the changes coming to France’s gas market

Dental fees 

The proportion of dental fees paid for by the public health system is to fall to 60% from October. 

Currently, 70% of soins dentaires (general dental work, such as fillings, extractions, treatment for gum diseases etc) is covered by social security. 

Voluntary top-up insurance can make up the rest. For people with top-up insurance (a mutuelle), it means their insurer will now cover 40% of treatment, up from 30%, at an overall cost of €500 million per year. 

Insurance providers have warned that they could raise prices next year to compensate. 

Read more: French state to reduce the amount it contributes to your dental bills

Motorbike checks 

France is to introduce an obligation for motorbikes and mopeds to pass contrôle technique roadworthiness tests after the country’s top administrative court the Conseil d’Etat ruled it could not get around EU rules. 

The government was set two months to implement the measure from June 1 but the Transport Minister has said it will start from 2024. 

Application will be staggered with vehicles that predate 2017 being the first to be included. 

He said the check will cost “less than €50”. 

Read more: France to introduce motorbike safety checks within two months

Payslip changes 

Changes to payslips come into effect in July, to better inform workers of their earnings and eligibility for benefits. 

The documents must now include a new section, Montant net social, showing the income used to calculate benefits such as the prime d’activité or RSA. 

It corresponds to net income after all mandatory social contributions have been deducted, and is the amount to declare when applying for benefits. 

Read more: Explainer: How France’s 35-hour week works in practice

Back-to-school aid 

The Allocation de rentrée scolaire (ARS) back-to-school benefit will be sent out from mid-August. 

This year the amount ranges between €398 and €435 depending on the age of the child. 

To be eligible, households must earn less than a certain threshold (for example, €25,775 if you have one child, or €31,723 for two).

If you already receive CAF benefits and your child is under 16, you have nothing to do. Otherwise, you must declare your income from mid-July here.

Read more: When are the school holidays in your part of France next year?

Post office opening hours

One thousand post offices across rural France will expand their opening hours over the next 18 months. 

La Poste has announced more post offices will open on Saturdays or other busy days, such as when the market takes place, as part of an agreement with mayors and the state. 

La Poste also plans to reduce the number of unexpected daily closures, and end counters, meaning employees will now help clients wherever they are in the building. 

Local studies will be undertaken before deciding which areas will be affected.

Read more: Boost for rural France as 1,000 post offices to expand opening hours

Speeding fine changes 

Drivers who are caught breaking the speed limit by less than 5km/h will still be fined (€135, or €68 if the speed limit is above 50km/h), even though they will not lose a point on their licence, from next January. 

Resident drivers with foreign licences must swap to a French licence if they commit an offence involving the loss of points, so this should no longer be necessary for small speeding fines. 

Read more: French roads ‘will be deadlier’ when speeding penalties eased

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