Fuel allowance, fines, GPs: 15 changes in France you may have missed

We look at recent updates - and some that are coming in soon

These changes either came into force in recent weeks or were announced and will come into effect soon
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1: Electrical repairs

A bonus that gives money off repairs to household items is rising from January 1.

Launched a year ago, it aims to stop people discarding items and works via accredited firms or certain retailers.

It is available for residents and second-home owners and is not related to income.

The bonus is being doubled for TVs, washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers and is rising from €15 to €40 for vacuum cleaners.

For some other appliances, including laptops, cookers and kettles, the bonus is increased by €5. The €180 repair price threshold for laptops (the repair must cost at least as much) drops to €150.

New kinds of appliances will qualify for the bonus, including shavers, microwaves and printers.

Read more: LIST: See what state aid is available to repair home goods in France

A bonus to help pay to repair clothes and shoes was also launched in November.

Read more: France launches cash aid for people to repair clothes

2: Energy rewards for reduced consumption

Electricity supplier Engie is rewarding clients who save energy this winter.

To benefit, Engie clients can sign up to the free écodéfi + service, where they can save money by being careful with usage on certain days.

You can sign up in your space on Engie’s website and you will receive alerts of ‘challenge’ days.

Read more: Engie and EDF to reward clients in France who save energy

3: Free public transport

Buses and trams in Montpellier are to become completely free for residents (this doe not apply to visitors) from December 21, making it the first French city to offer free public transport all year round.

Residents can claim their free transport pass either online or in a TAM Montpellier transport store.

Dunkirk and some other French towns already offered free public transport, however Montpellier is the largest urban area to do so, and the first to include trams in the list of free transport services.

Read more: Montpellier to be first French city to make all public transport free

4: Electric vehicle insurance rise

Electric vehicle insurance premiums are set to increase as their exemption from a special tax on insurance contracts (taxe spéciale sur les conventions d’assurance) comes to an end on January 1.

This accounted for a discount of between 20-25% on a third-party policy, and 12% to 15% on comprehensive insurance.

Read more: Why electric vehicle insurance premiums are set to rise in France

5: Fuel allowance

The €100 fuel allowance has been extended to cover 1.6 million more people on low wages who use their cars for work, including travel to work.

Up to six million people could benefit from the scheme, which is paid per car (and not per driver) attributed to an eligible household.

To qualify, the earnings limit is €1,600 net per month for a single person, and €4,800 for a couple with two children. You can apply via impots.gouv.fr from January 16 2024, and payments will begin to be made next March.

Read more: More than a million extra people to get France’s next fuel cheque

6: Teenage drivers

France will allow 17-year-olds to take a driving test and, if they pass, drive alone on the roads, it has been announced. More details are now awaited.

Some driving schools said teenagers were already opting to take a test rather than accompanied driving courses, which have a higher success rate.

7: Car selling app

A new government app can replace paperwork when buying and selling a used car and speed up the process.

Simplimmat enables buyers and sellers to follow the steps to legally exchange the vehicle as long as they are both physically present.

Each must have the app downloaded and have their vehicle paperwork to hand.

Read more: The official French app that makes buying or selling a used car easier

8: Electric TER tested

The first in a new line of 100% electric regional TER trains is being tested in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

A TER built in the early 2000s has been retrofitted to draw all of its power from a lithium battery and is now quieter and more eco-friendly.

Refitted TER trains will enter service in late 2024, between Bordeaux and Mont-de-Marsan.

The new and improved high-speed TGV-M trains have begun tests on stretches of the French rail network, and could be deployed near the end of 2024.

9: GP fees have risen

The cost for an appointment to see a GP (médecin traitant) has risen from €25 to €26.50.

Fees to see a specialist that were previously €30 are now €31.50. Many other medical tariffs also rise by €1.50.

In all cases, the amount reimbursed by the French social security system stays at 70%.

Read more: Doctors’ fees go up in France – and could rise again

10: Solving disputes

Disputes can now be amicably solved by a judge prior to a court hearing and subsequent ruling.

A confidential discussion can be had before a hearing between the judge and parties that can lead to an amicable settlement.

If it does, the parties can draw up an agreement with the help of the court clerk.

11: Paying for ad-free social media

Facebook and Instagram users in France and the EU, aged 18 and over, can now opt to subscribe to paid-for, ad-free versions of these social media platforms. Monthly subscription rates are €9.99 on the web or €12.99 on iOS and Android.

Parent company Meta confirmed data from subscribers would not be used for adverts.

Initially, the subscription will cover all linked Facebook and Instagram accounts in a user’s accounts centre but extra fees for any new accounts added will apply from March 1.

12: Gun ownership

January 1 is now the deadline for people who hunt with guns to declare firearm ownership on a website, with other gun owners having to declare by dates later next year.

These deadlines have been put back several times.

You can create an account at sia.detenteurs.interieur.gouv.fr. You will need your hunting licence and proof of address and identity.

13: More fines payable online

More offences punishable by a fine have been added to the list of amendes forfaitaires délictuelles (AFD).

These fines can be paid immediately online after being issued – as opposed to having to go through the courts to be approved – and are aimed at reducing congestion in the legal system.

Nearly 100 offences where fines are issued are now on the list – new additions include 20 driving offences (including obstructing road traffic), as well as offences like sexual contempt and steering a boat without a permit.

A list of all the offences can be found here.

14: Law change to air traffic control strikes

Air traffic controllers must now give at least 48 hour’s notice before striking, due to a vote by MPs earlier this month.

The change means that airports will have more information on the number of workers striking in advance, allowing them to better adapt their services and cancel flights in advance, instead of on the day of the strikes, due to uncertainty over worker numbers.

Read more: French MPs move to stop last-minute air traffic controller strikes

15: Changes to ‘family leave’

A reevaluation of time off work for new parents is underway, with new rules expected to come into force in 2025.

Amongst the expected changes is increases in both time-off and pay for family leave’ (additional time at home alongside maternity and paternity leave) for new parents.

Read more: France announces more time off work for new parents