You do not have to pay ‘catch-up’ French energy bills if sent too late

There is a set period in which ‘regularisation’ bills must be delivered

You may not receive some energy bills for months after the usage period concerned
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If you pay an estimate for your energy or gas use in France and are then billed for any difference once your actual usage is known, there is a deadline for this ‘catch-up’ bill to be received.

Beyond this time limit you can dispute the payment.

Once or twice per year, your supplier may send you a letter announcing an additional payment you need to make (régularisation in French).

This is based on actual consumption over a set time period versus the monthly estimate of consumption that dictated what you were paying.

You will then have to pay the difference between what you originally paid and how much you actually used.

This letter can sometimes be sent months after the actual period cited, however there is a cut-off point in most cases.

Article L.224-11 of France’s Consumer Code states that these régularisation letters have to be sent within 14 months of the end of the time period in question, or they become obsolete.

For example, if you paid €700 for your electricity between January and June 2021, but your supplier tells you that you should have paid €810, you are required to make up the difference and pay the additional €110 as long as you were sent the notification stating this between June 2021 and August 2022.

However if the notification was sent after this period you are (usually) not under any obligation to pay.

Read more: Compare, switch, save: Which French electricity contract is best?

Some exceptions exist

There are some cases where there is no time limit as to when such notification can be sent.

These are:

  • The supplier cannot access your meter to take a reading

  • You have not sent a statement of your consumption despite a reminder from the supplier, sent by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception)

  • You are guilty of fraud

If your supplier is within its right to demand the back payment, they have two years from the date they issue the invoice to take further action if you do not pay.

Read more: How long do I need to keep old French documents?

How do I contest a régularisation letter?

If you have been sent a letter which you believe is outside of the regularisation notification period you should firstly contact the customer support team of your supplier to see if there was a mistake.

If the issue is not resolved send the company a lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception stating so.

If you have not received a response after two months you can complain to the National energy ombudsman (Médiateur national de l’énergie).

There is no charge for this and it can be submitted via the online platform Sollen.

Alternatively, you can download and print this form then post it with the documents asked for to:

Médiateur national de l’énergie

Libre réponse n° 59252

75 443 PARIS Cedex 09

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