Recap: Key changes in France from August 1, 2023

We also explain what is happening with the state-regulated Livret A savings accounts

People are being warned to take care with contactless payments as you may not pick up on errors if you do not have a paper receipt
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The end of automatic paper receipts

Paper receipts will no longer be given automatically at checkouts, except for certain products from August 1. Tickets will instead be available via email, text, or through a store’s application.

The move is a bid to reduce waste with some assessments claiming 30 billion receipts are printed a year in France.

The change was due to be introduced twice already this year but was pushed back both times to give stores more time to adapt to the changes.

The ban also includes receipts for using your bank card, certain paper vouchers, and vending machine receipts.

In some circumstances, such as purchasing expensive electrical goods, a receipt is still mandatory. This is also the case when a paper ticket is exchanged for a product, for example after using a machine to order and collect your meal in a fast food restaurant.

Stores are still required to print you a physical receipt if you request one, regardless of the product bought.

It comes as consumer bodies have warned that the measure, which is intended to be eco-friendly, is not always to the customer’s advantage.

Notably, without a paper receipt you may be less likely to check for errors, for example, whether or not promotional prices have been applied as they were meant to be.

There is also an increased risk of customers not picking up on errors in the case of paying by contactless card, when many people pay without double checking the price displayed on the machine.

Finally, obtaining a refund or exchange in the case of faulty products is likely to be more complicated, so it is advisable to always ask for a traditional receipt for products where you may have to exchange them or make use of the guarantee.

Read also: Tax bills, traffic, school aid: Important dates in France this August

Regulated electricity bills to increase

Households which are signed up to a regulated electricity tariff (tarif réglementé de vente, or Tarif Bleu) will see their bills rise by 10% from August 1.

The average household bill for those affected is liable to increase by around €150 a year due to the change. This concerns some 20 million households and 1.5 million small businesses. People with ‘market-rate’ tariffs that are linked to the regulated price will also be affected.

It comes as the protection given by the government’s electricity energy shield – bouclier tarifaire – is reduced.

Prices were initially limited to a 4% rise in autumn 2021 as part of the government’s bouclier tarifaire (price shield) in response to the global energy crisis. Prices then rose by 15% at the start of this year, ahead of this second rise due in August.

The gas energy shield was already scrapped earlier this year.

The then Minister for Public Accounts, Gabriel Attal, stated that the price shield will be gradually phased out by the end of 2024.

The reductions are part of the Ministry of Finance’s plans to save €14billion in government spending by 2027.

Read more: Electricity bills to rise in France as price rise protection reduced

Also to note…..reversal of plans for Livret A

A rise in the interest rate of the popular state-regulated Livret A savings account – from 3% to 4.1% – has been deferred. The same applies to the similar LDDS accounts.

The usual formulas used to calculate the rate for the tax-free savings accounts would have seen the interest level rise to 4.1% due to inflation, but the government validated a proposal of the Banque de France to keep it at its current 3% rate until at least 2025.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stated that this was to keep the account stable, and to prevent a large drop in interest level later down the line, after inflation in France eased up. It was also said that it would avoid certain negative knock-on effects for the economy including increasing borrowing costs for small businesses.

Livret A is the most popular savings account in France with over 55 million accounts in the country. The interest on accounts is tax and social-charge free and the money invested is used to fund state projects.

Also as of August 1, the interest rate of the LEP (livret d’épargne populaire), another tax-free account that is available to those on modest incomes, sees its rate drop slightly from 6.1% to 6%.

Another change that has been promised concerns PEL (plans épargne logement) state-regulated savings plans, which are designed to help those saving to buy a home.

These are usually locked for four years after being opened but it is planned that money from them will be able to be used immediately so as to finance eco-friendly home renovations. This change is, however, not expected to come in before the start of 2024.

Read more: France will keep Livret A savings rate the same for next 18 months