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Can shops in France refuse to take payments in cash?

The question was sparked by reports of some French shops refusing to accept notes and coins on Sundays

In almost all circumstances, cash payments must be accepted in France Pic: pixinoo / Shutterstock

All shops, festivals, and events in France must accept payments using cash, the Comité national des moyens de paiement (CNMP) confirmed earlier this week. 

“Cash is legal tender in France. It must therefore be accepted by retailers every day, including Sundays, as well as during events,” said the committee, which brings together the payment industry, bankers, and retailers and is headed by the Banque de France. 

It comes after reports of shops not accepting cash payments on Sundays.

Last year, the Banque de France warned supermarkets such as Carrefour and Casino over their practices on Sunday openings.

Instead of checkout staff, the stores just had automatic tills where customers scan items themselves. 

Some exceptions remain

There are some circumstances, however, where shops are not legally required to accept cash payments. 

  • If coins or banknotes are in poor condition, shops can refuse to take them

  • If you try to use more than 50 coins to make a single payment

  • If a shop does not have the correct money to give you change

Finally, some shops are authorised not to accept cash payments for safety reasons (such as shops that open late at night). 

This extends to objects, such as parking meters, which are allowed to be fully cashless to limit cases of vandalism.

What can I do if I am refused the ability to pay in cash? 

If you want to pay with cash but are refused (and it is not for one of the reasons listed above), you can make a complaint about the shop to the Direction départementale de la protection des populations (DDPP) or to France’s defender of rights. 

If shops refuse to accept cash payments for an invalid reason, they can be fined up to €150 for each instance.

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