Stay up-to-date: 20 recent and upcoming changes in France

We cover tax updates, renovation scheme revamps, possible money changes for British residents and more

We also cover changes in the medical world, such as fewer Tramadol pills per box

Antibiotics to be prescribed by pharmacists 

By this summer, pharmacists will be able to provide antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. A simple test will be used to check if the person has a bacterial infection. 

This is an effort to combat medical deserts and a general shortage of doctors that has also seen pharmacists also carrying out vaccinations. 

Rural noise law 

A new law has been passed preventing noise complaints from pre-existing sources. Any noise that was regularly made before an inhabitant moved in cannot be used as the basis for a complaint. 

The law was passed in a bid to reduce neighbour disputes, particularly as more people have moved from cities to the country. 

Read more: Cockerels, farms smells: new law protects country habits in France

MaPrimeRénov’ revamp

Following a 40% drop in requests for renovation grant quotations, the government is introducing several changes to its MaPrimeRénov’ scheme. Aid for energy-saving work will no longer be limited to multi-stranded projects – renovation of just one aspect of the home will also qualify without needing to be combined with others. 

Other U-turns include removing the requirement to have a DPE certificate before applying for grants, and ending the obligation to change fossil fuel heating systems before insulating a home. The number of advisers offering face-to-face support will also increase.

Read more: France revamps energy renovation grants scheme to boost take-up

Covid vaccination campaign

A new Covid-19 vaccination campaign began on April 15. People over the age of 80, living in a care home, immunocompromised people or anyone at high risk can get another vaccination to boost resistance to the virus. 

Injections can be given three months after the previous injection or infection. 

Read more: Next Covid vaccination campaign begins in France

Limit on EU-bought cigarettes lifted

France has ended the limit on bringing back cigarettes from other EU countries, in accordance with EU legislation. The previous limit was a carton of cigarettes (200) per person. 

The cigarettes must be bought for personal consumption, based on 12 criteria such as quantity, brand, mode of transport and your destination (home or elsewhere). Packs of cigarettes can be twice as cheap in Spain or Italy. 

Read more: France ends limit on cigarettes bought from other EU countries

Care home changes 

A new law has passed aiming to improve the quality of life for elderly people. Two main changes include the obligation for care homes to accept a new resident’s pet and the right to visits from anyone without needing to warn the home first.

Read also: The 7 ways France plans to improve end-of-life care

Interest-free property loans boosted and extended

The income criteria and amounts for the zero-interest property loan (PTZ) have been raised, and the scheme extended until 2027. 

However, it will now only finance new-build apartments in areas deemed under housing pressure, or the purchase of older properties outside of these zones, provided substantial energy renovation work is undertaken.

The loan has increased to cover 50% of a property bought by a household with modest income, up from 40%. Some 29 million residents are eligible. 

The eco-PTZ loan for energy renovations has also been extended and can now cover up to €50,000 of work, up from €30,000, on the condition that the project is eligible for MaPrimeRénov’ grants. 

Summer rail pass for under-27s for €49 a month

A rail pass offering unlimited travel on all regional trains (TER and Intercités) across France in July and August will go on sale at the start of June for €49 a month. It will be available to 700,000 people below the age of 27. 

Intra-Ile-de-France trains are not included but trains leaving the Ile-de-France are. 

Income thresholds raised for subsidised top-up health insurance

The income threshold has been raised for people wishing to benefit from free or subsidised top-up health insurance for low-income households (complémentaire santé solidaire) (complementary health insurance or CSS/C2S). 

Read more: Explainer: the CSS, France’s free or low cost top-up health insurance

For a household comprising two people, the maximum income for someone to benefit from CSS without any financial contribution is now €15,249, and €20,586 with a financial contribution of less than €1 a day. 

Wheelchair set to be fully reimbursed before 2025

Wheelchairs are set to be entirely reimbursed before the end of 2024. Manual wheelchairs can cost up to €10,000 while electric ones can be €50,000. Currently, Assurance Maladie only covers a small part of the cost. 

Charity APF France Handicap said it will carefully check the details. It wants all models to be concerned, without price caps and to be fully covered by Assurance Maladie alone.

The promise was originally made by President Emmanuel Macron in April 2023. Around 1 million people have wheelchairs in France today.

Rent cannot be raised by more than 3.5%

Landlords cannot increase their rent by more than 3.5% because the indice de référence des loyers (rent reference index, used to calculate rent increases during the term of a lease) rose by 3.5% over the last year, reported statistics body Insee. 

This was the maximum rent increase allowed in any case following the emergency cap on housing rents introduced in the summer of 2022.

Non-reimbursed medical fee increase to €2

From May 15, patients will have to pay €2 for any medical consultations, radio examinations or biological analyses, up from €1. This €2 fee is not reimbursed by the Assurance maladie or any complementary health insurance. 

The government proposed raising it between €2 and €3 and the Union des caisses d’Assurance maladie voted to make it €2.

Read more: Patients to pay more for doctor visits in France from May 15

Fewer Tramadol pills per box

The number of pills included in a box of Tramadol will be reduced to at most half, from 30 to 10 or 15 pills. 

Tramadol is a powerful opioid prescribed as a painkiller and the change follows concerns over the growing number of addictions linked to it. The aim is for patients to no longer have leftover Tramadol after their prescribed intake ends. 

Read more: Tramadol: fewer pills in boxes in France in bid to reduce addiction

10% pension penalty removed

The 10% pension penalty for the Agirc-Arrco supplementary retirement pension has ended. It was imposed in 2019 to encourage people to work an extra year. 

Bipolar test available for the first time 

A blood test for bipolar disorder is now available in France for the first time. It will be able to diagnose the disorder within weeks, as opposed to the current average of 10 years. It is available in the medical biology lab Synlab and is reportedly 80% accurate. 

Read more: France to introduce first ever blood test for bipolar disorder

Medicinal cannabis experiment extended 

The medicinal cannabis experiment which began in March 2021 has been extended to December 2024. It was originally supposed to end in March and cannot be extended past December. 

Taxe lapin

A €5 penalty fee for missing a doctor’s appointment, nicknamed the taxe lapin (rabbit tax) has been officially proposed by prime minister Gabriel Attal and is set to be voted on by Parliament. 

It is predicted to free up between 15 and 20 million appointment slots per year and would come into place at the start of 2025. 

Three engineers in Rennes are attempting to set up an ‘anti-rabbit system’, which would send out SMSs to people before their appointment. 

Read more: €5 penalty proposed for missing a medical rendez-vous in France

Seasonal tap water prices 

The cost of tap water is set to increase by 42% from June to October in Toulouse and 36 surrounding communes. 

Affecting around 850,000 residents, it is a bid to reduce water usage as droughts have become more of a problem in recent years. From November to May, cost will reduce by 30%. 

Read more: Tap water fees for homes to be seasonal in Toulouse

UK family visa threshold increase

Couples comprising a Briton and another nationality must now show an income of £29,000 – up from £18,600 – for a ‘family visa’ for the non-British person to live in the UK. 

This threshold is due to rise to £38,700 by early 2025, although savings of at least £16,000 can reduce it. The income cannot include from foreign work.

UK Spring Budget changes 

The higher rate of property capital gains tax is dropping from 28% to 24% from April 6 – good news for those selling a UK property that is not their main home for a profit. Non-residents only pay tax on gains made since April 6, 2015. 

From April 6, 2025, the special UK tax regime for furnished holiday lettings will be removed, and they will be treated the same as long-term rentals for tax purposes.

Read more: UK Spring Budget: More detail on changes for Britons in France