Reader question: I am a UK resident with a holiday home in France. I read that the census is currently underway in my village in France. I am in the UK and have not visited for several months due to Covid. As a house owner but non-resident, am I required to complete the census?
The annual census has returned to France this year after a year-long Covid hiatus.
Communes with more than 10,000 residents are included in the census every year, while those with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants take part once every five years. You can find out if your town is involved this year online.
Everyone who receives census information in their letterbox must take part unless the house in question is a second-home.
Resident responses contribute towards the development of local and national government policies and services, including public transport, schools, shops and sports facilities.
Government information page Service-public.fr states that: “Responding to the census questionnaires is obligatory,” but adds that: “The residence for which you must fill in the census is your main home.
“If a census official contacts you at your secondary residence, you do not have to complete the questionnaire, and the agent will only take note of certain information” when they are distributing documents or picking up questionnaires from other homes.
This information may include, for example, whether it is a house or flat.
A second-home is defined as being “housing used for weekends, leisure or holidays.”
Furnished housing which is rented out for tourist stays are also classed as second homes.
The rules also state that “after you have been in France for at least one year you will be concerned by the census,” so if you only visit your second home for a few weeks at a time you do not need to do anything.
Those who do not fill in the census when they should – i.e. permanent residents in their main homes – or who do not give satisfactory responses will be subject to a €38 fine.