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Specialist in French Property Law Strap Line

Useful Info

Local taxes | French bank accounts | Driving in France
French registered vehicles | Working in France | Pensions in France
Health | Benefits | Public Holidays

We have provided below a brief outline of selected information that may be of general interest. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish us to deal with additional areas and/or refer to our FAQ page.

Local taxes

Included among the local taxes payable by property owners and occupiers in France are the taxe foncière and taxe d'habitation. The taxe foncière is a tax on ownership of property. Taxe habitation is a tax for which the occupier is liable. Both taxes are annual and become due on Jan 1st, for which the tax bills will generally arrive in September. It is advisable to obtain copies of previous tax bills from the vendor so that you have a clear idea of annual costs.

There is an obligation on owners of newly constructed buildings and those having engaged in extension or alteration of existing buildings to inform the tax authorities within 90 days of completion of the work. If doing so yourself it is advisable to inform the centre des impôts fonciers as soon as practicable following finalisation of the work.

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French bank accounts

When purchasing a property in France it is advisable to open a French bank account as this facilitates the payment of utility accounts and could under given circumstances even save you money on the completion of your purchase transaction. In any event it certainly affords greater control over the movement of small funds mindful of the exchange rate. The requirements vary from bank to bank. Some banks have a facility whereby you can open an account from the UK as a non resident. Alternatively if the bank you opt for requires a French address you should generally be able to open an account once you have signed the initial purchase contract. As is normal throughout Europe be prepared to bring your identity documents with you when opening an account (proof of address, passport, etc).

Please note: never issue a cheque drawn on your French bank account without ensuring that you have sufficient cleared funds in your account (the clearing process can sometimes take longer than you think) or possess an agreed overdraft facility. French banks are robust in this direction and for very small amounts one can find oneself incurring punitive charges, facing closure of the account, and even at risk of being declared “interdit bancaire ”. Where a cheque is issued without sufficient provision, if the situation is not regularised the account holder is registered with the Banque de France as interdit bancaire and will not have the right to run anything other than a very basic bank account or to issue cheques drawn on any French bank for a period of five years. 

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Driving in France

The minimum driving age in France is 18. Seatbelts are compulsory and children under 10 may not travel in the front passenger seat unless it is fitted with a rear facing safety seat or where there is no rear seat.

The speed limits in France depend upon the type of road concerned and the prevailing weather conditions:

Bad weather,
novice &
learner drivers
Built-up areas: 50kph (31mph)  
Urban autoroutes and dual carriageways: 110kph (68mph) 100kph (62mph)
Toll autoroutes: 130kph (81mph) 110kph (68mph)
Other roads: 90kph (56mph) 80kph (50mph)

Where visibility is less than 50m the speed limit is reduced to 50kph on all roads.

The drink driving limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood is lower than that which is in force in the UK (80mg per 100ml). This is approx the equivalent of 1 to 1 ½ pints of regular strength beer.

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French registered vehicles

It is a requirement in France to have a “certificat d’immatriculation” or “carte grise” before a vehicle can be driven. This identifies the vehicle and the owner, and confirms that the vehicle is road worthy. If you purchase a new vehicle in France the supplier should supply the carte, however if you purchase a second-hand vehicle or bring a car into France which you purchase outside France you must obtain the carte from the local prefecture or mairie. The cost is dependant upon the type of car and the region (as an example in Ile de France the cost is currently 46.15€).

The French equivalent of the MOT must be carried out by an accredited test centre for the first time during the six months prior to the fourth anniversary of the vehicle being put on the road from new, and thereafter every two years.

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Working in France

Nationals of EU member states have the right to work and live in France . There is at present no requirement to obtain a carte de séjour however this can still be obtained on application from the prefecture and it may be advisable to do so for tax and/or employment reasons. In addition, recent legislation introduced in July 2006 concerning immigration and integration may oblige nationals from other E.U. member states to register with the authorities in the area in which they will be living. We will post further information on the site at the news section as the details emerge.

If you intend to work in France you should ensure that your qualifications and/or experience will be considered equivalent to that required to operate in your chosen field. Specific requirements will apply to certain areas of activity and you should consult the governing body or association relevant to the profession or activity you intend to exercise to determine the precise conditions for acceptance. You may find it useful to contact one of the European Documentation Centres (EDC) in the UK before you leave. To find the contact details for your nearest office contact:

The Commission of the EC
Information Centre
8 Storey’s Gate
Tel: 0207 973 1992

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Pensions in France

Pensions received from the UK by persons living in France, with the exception of government pensions, will be taxed in France . UK nationals who retire to France are entitled to the basic state pension on condition that the required National Insurance contributions have been paid. The pension will be index-linked. The UK has a double taxation treaty with France meaning that UK nationals receiving a UK state pension in France will not pay UK tax.

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Persons in receipt of certain benefits such as long-term incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance and widow’s benefit can continue to claim while resident in France on condition that the relevant conditions are fulfilled.

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UK pensioners who are resident in another EU country are entitled to the same level of treatment as a national in the country in which they are living.

Pensioners moving to France can have their health care covered, subject to any contributions that apply under French law. They should obtain a Form E121 from the Medical Benefits Section of the Pension Service in Newcastle (contact details below) and register it in France .

The Pension Service
International Pension Centre
Medical Benefits Section
Tyneview Park
Whitley Road
NE98 1BA
Tel: 0191 218 7547

Persons who retire early should take out private medical insurance until they become entitled to a UK state retirement pension. This may not however be possible in the event of a serious pre-existing condition.

If you have been resident in France for longer than 3 months and have proof of income you can apply to be covered by the Couverture Maladie Universelle or CMU). This is a low cost contribution based medical health cover scheme designed to ensure that people on low income and who do not have other forms of medical insurance are covered by the social security for basic medical costs. Enquiries should be made with the French Embassy or at the local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance-Maladie (CPAM).

If you are not covered through contributions to the French system or by EU social security arrangements as set out below you should take out sufficient private insurance to cover the full cost of any emergency. Those covered under EU Social Security arrangements should take out some private insurance to cover the 20-30% contribution normally required by the French Social Security scheme towards the cost of treatment (this varies from around 25% for hospital costs, 30% for doctors’ and dentists’ fees, and up to 65% for certain medicines), and which is not reimbursed to the patient.

If you are employed in France you will normally be subject to the French social security legislation and be liable to pay contributions to the French schemes for pensions, sickness (including healthcare) and unemployment. Your French employer should obtain a social security number for you. If you are self-employed in France you should contact the local social security office immediately after your arrival in France.

Public Holidays in France 2019

  • Tuesday 1st January – New Year’s Day (Jour de l’An)

  • Monday 22nd April – Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)

  • Wednesday 1st May – Labour Day (Fête du Travail)

  • Wednesday 8th May - WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945)

  • Thursday 30th May - Ascension Day (Ascension Catholique)

  • Monday 10th June - Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte)

  • Sunday 14th July - Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

  • Thursday 15 August - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

  • Friday 1st November - All Saints' Day (Toussaint)

  • Monday 11th November - Armistice Day (Armistice 1918)

  • Wednesday 25th December - Christmas Day (Noël)


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To complement these bank holidays, school holidays happen in February (Winter Holiday, sometimes known as "ski holidays"), April (Easter or Spring Holiday), July and August (Summer Holiday), November (All Saints Holiday) and December (Christmas Holiday).

School Holidays 2019

Winter: 22 December 2018 6 January 2019

Easter: 13 April 28 April 2019

Summer: 6 July 25 August 2019

Autumn: 12 October 27 October 2019

Winter: 21 December 5 January 2020

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0333 335 6767

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Telephone from France

01 76 66 05 26

Fax 0844 357 6764


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29 Throgmorton Street ▪ London ▪ EC2N 2AT

Bureau de liaison ▪ 57 rue d’Amsterdam ▪ 75008 ▪ Paris ▪ France

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