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What's new for residents in France from July 2021

Rising gas prices, a home renovation grant extension and easier travel within Europe are among the changes

Gas ring, doggy bags, Amazon shopping and travel health pass. What's new for residents in France from July 2021?

Changes include price rises for online shopping and gas, and restaurants in France are introducing doggy bags Pic: Marian Weyo / Sara Guyre / Nattakorn_Maneerat / Worawee Meepian / Shutterstock

As health restrictions in nearly all public spaces in France were lifted yesterday (June 30), July brings the possibility of easier overseas travel in Europe with the full  launch of the digital EU health travel pass.

Other changes this month include rising gas prices, changes to financial aid for electric cars and eco home renovations and possible new rules for working from home.

We explain.

Health passes available for European travel

From today (July 1), health passes for European travel will come into use in all EU member states and four non-member states in the Schengen zone: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Health passes show that the bearer has either been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, has a negative test result taken in previous days or has already had the virus and is considered immune. 

Read more: People in France can now access European health travel pass

The aim is to ease travel between member states but this does not guarantee entry with no other conditions to a country. Countries are also free to impose their own entry criteria on travellers.

Gas prices rise by nearly 10%

Regulated gas prices will go up by 9.96% on average from July 1. 

The increase comes as natural gas prices around the world rise, but is also linked to energy saving certificates that French providers must fund in order to meet government objectives.

Doggy bags to be obligatory in restaurants 

Restaurants in France must now offer doggy bags (containers for leftovers) to diners who do not finish their meals in order to reduce food waste.

Containers for taking food home should be reusable or recyclable. This was previously recommended but not obligatory.

Second-hand bikes should be marked with identification number

Any second-hand bicycles sold by professionals should now have been marked with a unique identification number.

These numbers are stored in a database, so owners are more easily identifiable. 

This was already required for new bikes, as of January 1, 2021. 

Thello closes two train lines

Italian train company Thello has closed down two lines it had been operating in France.

The Marseille to Milan service, which passed through Nice and Monaco has now closed, and the suspended Paris-Milian-Venice service will not restart.

New coaches must accept bikes

New long-distance coaches that enter service must now be equipped to take up to five bikes in a space at the back.

New VAT rules for e-commerce

E-commerce sites are now eligible to pay VAT for some transactions.

The reform was due to be introduced in January 2021 to combat e-commerce VAT fraud but was pushed back due to the health crisis.

VAT will now also be applied to all imports from countries outside the EU whatever their value. Previously it only applied to goods costing over €22.

This could drive up prices on sites such as Amazon where sellers based in Asia, for example, have previously been able to avoid paying VAT on low-cost goods, or those declared as such.

The new rules aim to reduce VAT fraud, and ensure fair competition on e-commerce sites for European businesses.

Read more: Price of online goods from outside EU to rise in France VAT crackdown

State aid for buying electric cars to go down

State aid for buying an electric car is going down by €1,000 to €6,000 for cars costing under €45,000 and €2,000 for cars costing under €60,000.

Financial support for buying an hybrid car will also go down to €1,000 before being phased out in January 2022.

And aid for converting cars will only be available for new petrol-engine cars (not diesel) with a Crit’Air 1 rating, and second-hand cars that emit a maximum of 137 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

Aid for eco-renovations now available to landlords

MaPrimeRénov financial support for energy-saving home renovations is now available to landlords, for up to three properties.

Work with a quote signed for after October 2020 is eligible, and can be claimed for online.

Civil servants return to the office 

From today French civil servants will only be able to work at home for two days a week, instead of the three days previously allowed.

The rules will be reassessed in September. 

This comes as the government has encouraged employers in France to set limits for the number of days employees can work from home each week.

Increase in sick leave coverage for accredited professionals 

Professionnels libéraux (such as doctors, notaires, architects, etc.) will be covered for sick leave for up to three months, with only three unpaid days as opposed to 90 unpaid days currently in place.

Social contributions paid towards this cover will be between €50-370 per year calculated in line with individual wages, for an allowance of €22-169 per day for up to three months per leave period, and up to four leave periods within three years.

Home energy efficiency certificates can now be legally challenged

Home buyers or tenants can now take legal action against those selling or renting out property if the DPE energy efficiency certificate provided is found to be inaccurate, eg. if the home is significantly less energy-efficient than was advertised.

Read more about the change here

Receipts will now specify legal guarantee

If you buy consumer items such as a vacuum cleaner, drill, smartphone etc. the till receipt must now show your legal guarantee period of two years. This relates to the garantie légale de conformité, meaning it should be free of faults making the item unusable for its purpose. It should be replaced or repaired if it stops working or does not work properly.

Unemployment benefits recalculated

Unemployment benefits will go up by 0.6% for 94% of recipients.

Despite government plans to change how unemployment benefit is calculated, the current system will stay in place until September.

However chômage partiel put in place for employees who were unable to work during the health crisis will go down to 60% of gross salary (72% of net salary), as many can now get back to work.

Workers in sectors highly impacted by the crisis (such as tourism and events) or still closed for health reasons will continue to receive unemployment benefits equivalent to 84% of their net salary until August 31. 

Paternity leave extended 

Paternity leave will be extended from 14 consecutive days (three days for birth and 11 for paternity leave) to 28 days, which do not have to be taken consecutively (three for birth and 25 for paternity leave).

Leave is available for fathers and other 'second parents' (ie. not the mother of the child), with three days for the birth paid for by an employer and 25 paid for by social security.

Multiple births such as twins or triplets mean an extra seven days. 

Streaming platforms must invest in French cinema

A new law decrees that internet streaming platforms such as Netflix must now invest 20-25% of their turnover made in France in the French and European film and audiovisual (television, radio...) industries. 

Shops selling alcohol must now stock breathalysers

Supermarkets, corner shops, wine shops and internet sites selling alcohol must also start selling breathalysers within the next three months.

The breath tests should be displayed near alcoholic products, and stores must carry 10-25 tests depending on how much alcohol they stock.

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