Address change deadline looms for one million French homes

Mairies of small communes must update a government website with all the new street names and house numbers

Houses in communes with less than 2,000 people must now have numbers and streets must all have names
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The last villages will be allocating formal addresses this month after some 1.8 million people were identified as requiring one under a 2022 law.

By June 1, all streets in communes of less than 2,000 people must have names and the houses on them numbered, which has traditionally been far from the case. This includes private roads not closed off by gates, and cul-de-sacs. The law also says all lieux-dits – small hamlets distinct from a village centre – should also be named.

It is a big job for mairies, which are responsible for deciding on the names and numbering systems, but many residents have welcomed it.

In Haux (Gironde), one told BFMTV: "We've not been able to receive all of our parcels, so it's pretty good the mairie is changing the addresses." Another added: "We've had issues with mail not arriving, or sometimes having to pay extra tax as a penalty for bills that hadn't come to the right address."

The change means that, in the future, everyone should be able to give a precise address, rather than, for example, ‘the third house along from the church, with blue shutters’.

Read more: French village plans to (finally) number its houses and name streets

Up to now there have been an estimated 200,000 streets in France with no name. 

Smaller communes had no obligation, while larger ones were required to submit street name lists to the local property tax authorities.

Now, the mairies will have to update a government website with all the data by June 1.

There is little time left to look for elaborate names, with just over a month left: in Haux, the mayor showed journalists an alleyway saying “In this little street we could maybe imagine it will be ‘impasse des vignes’, because there are vines at the front and back of it.”

In order to encourage communes to meet the rules, they have been dispensed from having to pay for house number plaques, which was originally intended, though they will have to pay for street name signs.

Communes will, however, be able to lay down rules on what house number plaques should look like, so there is consistency.