What changes in France in March 2024 for residents

A number of deadlines are included as well as changes affecting the price of non-food items and medical fees

Changes include another tobacco price hike and new driving licence rules
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Energy cheque deadline

Energy cheques (Chèque énergie) sent in 2023 to more than five million homes in France must be used before March 31, 2024, if they are used to pay part of gas or electricity bills.

If the cheques are used to pay towards energy efficient home renovations, they can be exchanged for a later version (up to two years later) to pay for this.

Read more: How can I use my French chèque énergie gas or electricity vouchers?

The issue of the 2024 version of the cheques has been delayed but should begin from March onwards.

They will have a value of between €48 and €277, the same as in 2023, with almost six million households eligible.

However, around one million of those households who are eligible for the cheque - given in the form of a voucher - will reportedly not automatically receive it this year due to a ‘technical error’.

This means you may need to manually apply. The service to do this should be live by the end of May so, if you have not received an energy cheque by then but believe you should have, you can use this site to check.

Read more: New energy cheque in France: you may need to apply this year

Shopping laws set to change

Non-food items are to face the same restrictions as perishable goods with regard to discounts and special offers from March 1 due to the introduction of a new law, the loi Descrozaille.

In practice, this means that products including those for personal hygiene, cleaning, beauty, and perfumes cannot be sold with more than a 34% discount – the same restrictions as currently in place for food under the EGalim law.

Read more: What is France's EGalim law and why does it matter to farmers?

The aim is to create more equality between suppliers and distributors of these products.

Read more: Why now is good time to stock up on hygiene products in France

Jobseekers’ ‘work-for-benefits’ trial expands

More than half of French departments will require people who receive the RSA (Revenu de solidarité active) ‘jobseekers’ benefit to complete some work to continue receiving the money.

Benefits claimants will have to work or complete training courses for 15 hours a week to receive RSA payments, although some exceptions will continue.

The additional departments where the trial will be expanded have not yet been announced.

The scheme will see a national rollout in 2025 as part of plans to reduce unemployment in France.

Read more: Benefits in France: revenu de solidarité active (RSA) for work seekers

Another tobacco price hike

Some tobacco prices will see their prices increase by between 50c and 75c for the second consecutive month,

This includes packets of Lucky Strike, Rothmans and Winfield Reds. Products affected by price increases in January will not be affected.

You can find a full list of the products concerned in March on the French customs website.

Deadline to use restaurant vouchers

Paper versions of restaurant vouchers (tickets restaurant or titres-restaurant) handed out to employees in 2023 must be used before March 1.

However, unused tickets can be exchanged for 2024 versions of the vouchers via the provider’s website.

New driving test rules for automatic vehicle drivers

People who pass their driving test with only an ‘automatic’ vehicle licence will no longer have to wait three months before they can start taking lessons with a manual gearbox.

The seven-hour training course required to switch the licence from an automatic to a manual one will also see more practical elements added.

You will not need to wait for your licence to be reissued before you can drive a manual car – your automatic licence and the attestation from the training centre will suffice.

Read more: Cars, licences, driving: what changes in France in 2024?

Franchise médicale to double

The franchise médicale, a complimentary non-refundable cost paid for prescribed medicines and some treatments, will rise from 50c to €1 on March 31.

Some cases will continue to see exceptions, and there is a €50 annual limit on the amount an individual can pay.

In addition, changes to medical transport rule that were included in the 2024 social security budget may soon come into effect. It will require patients to share hospital transportation (usually provided by taxis) to continue to receive current reimbursement rates.

Read more: Medicines in France will cost patients more from spring

Pension contribution changes

Those who receive the Agirc-Arrco French supplementary retirement pensions may see a change in their pension rate.

This is due to potential changes in a person’s CSG (Contribution sociale généralisée) bracket, that will affect the level of pension contributions.

If there are changes in your payouts, you will be informed via your pension statement for March 2024.

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