France’s tourist tax, known as the taxe de séjour, aims to help finance local authorities’ tourism-linked expenses, including the upkeep of public property, the protection of green spaces and the development of touristic offerings.
It is applied by the authorities of communes or intercommunal bodies (known as EPCIs).
As of January 1, 2021, it was in place in 83% of France’s communes. These are the latest figures.
There are in fact two different types of this tax.
One, called taxe au réel, is paid by people on holiday staying in guest houses, hotels, campsites, etc. This is by far the most common version of this tax and has been adopted by 90% of the communes that apply the tourist tax.
The fee is paid to the accommodation provider as an itemised part of the tourist’s bill, with the money then passed on at fixed dates by accommodation providers to local authorities.
The other system, called taxe au forfait, is paid by hosts, hotel owners or landlords that charge a fee for guests to stay in their accommodation directly to local authorities. This is rare and is only fully in place in 3% of communes, while another 7% have a mixed system using au réel and au forfait.
It is up to local councils to decide which option they apply.
Taxe de séjour – au réel
This is paid by holidaymakers if the commune or area they are in has implemented it.
It applies to stays in hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, campsites, caravan parks, etc. The tax will be added on to the guests’ bill.
The rate is calculated per person, per night (there are some exceptions, listed below), and will be between €0.20 and €4.20 per night, per person.
You can expect any accommodation of a standard lower than a four-star hotel to have a tax of less than €1 per night, per person. The average tax for five-star hotels in 2021 was €1.69 per night, per person.
It is only in very exclusive, luxury accommodation, known as palaces in French, that the fees are likely to be higher than this.
The department can also apply an additional tax of 10% to the tourist tax.
The amount of the tourist tax must be made clear by the accommodation provider.
Each department will set a minimum amount that the tourist must exceed in terms of accommodation for the taxe de séjour (au réel) to apply. This can be set as a monthly, weekly, or daily rate.
By way of example, in Chevrotaine in the Jura tourists must spend at least €35 within a week for the tax to apply. This commune also applies the 10% additional tax.
In Antibes (Alpes Maritimes), tourists must spend a minimum of €300 within a month for the tax to apply. This commune does not apply the 10% additional tax.
You can use this search tool to see how much the tourist tax is in each commune in France.
There is no VAT on the taxe de séjour in this case as it is extra to the bill.
The taxe de séjour (au réel) does not apply to:
- Children (under the age of 18)
- People in emergency accommodation or temporary housing
- People staying in accommodation where the cost is less than a minimum amount determined by the local council
- Seasonal workers employed in the area
Taxe de séjour – au forfait
This tax could also apply to owners of accommodation hosting tourists, be it guesthouses, B&Bs, hotels or those hosting through booking platforms such as Airbnb. It is up to local authorities whether they choose the system of ‘au réel’ or ‘au forfait’.
Accommodation owners are tasked with paying the taxe de séjour directly to local authorities.
The tax rate ‘au forfait’ is not based on how many nights paying guests have stayed in the accommodation but is calculated on the basis of the capacity of the accommodation (how many people can stay there) and the period of time it is open for.
The accommodation owner declares the information to local authorities who then place a fixed tax rate for them to pay.
If the accommodation owner chooses to increase their prices to take into account the taxe de séjour, this must be mentioned in the customers’ bills with the phrase ‘taxe de séjour forfaitaire comprise’. VAT will be charged on the whole bill, regardless.
It should be noted that the taxe de séjour is not applied year-round in all communes, and the mairie or local authorities will set a period of time that it is in place for.
Tourist accommodation owners must declare to local authorities the capacity of their accommodation and the dates they plan to be open for at least one month before the beginning of the taxe de séjour period.
Local authorities can apply a discount of between 10 and 80% of the tax ‘au forfait’ depending on the length of time the accommodation is open for.
Usually, the longer it is open the higher the discount.
Details of this will be available at your local mairie. You should ask there for any clarifications on the taxe de séjour.
Tax payments can be made once or several times a year, depending on the choice of local authorities.
Some mairies make declaration forms available online.
In communes where the ‘au réel’ system is in place, Airbnb can automatically handle the taxe de séjour payments, which it collects and then pays back to local authorities at two points during the year.
The booking platform states that it carries out automatic payments of the tax in 29,000 communes in France.
One step that Airbnb hosts must still take is to declare on the Airbnb platform if their accommodation has the official classification of being a “logement classé”.
If so, the taxe de séjour is calculated in euros per night, per person.
If your accommodation is not ‘classé’, then local authorities fix the tax rate at between 1-5% of the nightly rate that a guest pays.
You can see a guide to informing Airbnb whether your accommodation is ‘classé’ or not at this link.
Airbnb cannot collect taxes in communes that are applying the taxe de séjour via the au forfait system.
See with your local mairie whether this system is in place and seek advice from them on what to do to declare the taxe de séjour.