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Managing your budget

The euro (€)

The single currency in use in most European countries is the euro (€).
You can find exchange offices (bureaux de change) in many airports, as well in the city centres: Grenoble, Valence, Chambéry and Annecy.
You can also get some money (euros-€) out of the cashpoints anywhere in France.

Means of payment


The most popular means of payment, approved by most shopkeepers, is the bank card.
You can also pay by cash or cheque.
Direct debiting is frequently used for subscriptions (water, telephone, internet…). Direct debits are set up by providing your ‘RIB’ (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire), and can be stopped by contacting your bank.
In case of loss or theft of your means of payment, immediately report it by following the procedure the bank will have indicated, or contact your bank.

The cost of living

Expenditure to anticipate for when you arrive
  • Accommodation guarantee deposit : equivalent of one month's rent excluding bills (non furnished accommodations), up to 2 month's rent excluding bills in some residencies and/or furnished accommodations.
  • The first month's rent.
  • Accommodation insurance: the cost depends on the type of lodging. You should reckon on between 20 and 80 € per year.
  • The fiscal stamp to regularize your stay in France: 60 € for students.
  • Various other expenses (university study supplies, "Contribution Vie Étudiante et de Campus" (if you are eligible), estate agency fees, odds and ends for your accommodation, opening a bank account, etc.)

Main monthly expenses

  • Accommodation:
    • In a private residence: 450 to 600 € per month 
    • University residence (CROUS) : 200 to 500 € per month
    • A 20m2 apartment in town: average price is 400 to 500 € per month 
    • Electricity and gas bills: around 50 € per month
    • Water: around 15 € per month
  • Telecommunication: Acquisition of a mobile telephone with SIM card and internet subscription: between 5 and 30 € per month
  • Transport:
    • Local transport (tram and bus) pass: 15 or 56,70 € per month depending on your age (Grenoble)
    • Bicycle rental: 15 or 25 € per month depending on your age (Grenoble)
Everyday expenses
  • A midday meal in a restaurant: 10-14 €
  • A 'baguette' : 1 €
  • A meal in a university restaurant: 3,25 €
  • A coffee in a bar or cafe:1,50€
  • A beer: 2,80 €
  • A cinema ticket: 6 to 11 €

Opening a bank account

Do I have to open a bank account in France ?
Having a bank account in France is not mandatory, but it will make the management of your daily finances easier : paying bills (water, electricity, gas), telephone or internet subscriptions, as well as receiving salaries or medical expenses reimbursements.
It is mandatory to have a french bank account to receive allowances from the CAF (housing benefit, family related allowances…).

How to choose a bank ?
It is up to you to compare the different bank offers, and the bank fees (for account keeping, bank transfers, bank cards…), to find the one that best meets your needs.
You can also check with your bank in your home country if they have a partnership with a French bank. You may then save on international money transfers for example.
Note that most banks have special offers for students.

How to open a bank account ?
You will need to make an appointment with a bank advisor.
On the day of the appointment, you will have to bring :
  • a proof of identity (identity card or passport),
  • a proof of address (home insurance, rental agreement, bill, ‘certificat d’hébergement’…),
  • your student card or proof of registration at university (not mandatory, only to benefit from the special offers for students).
You will get a ‘relevé d’identité bancaire’ (RIB), immediately after the opening of a bank account. You can provide different organisations or public administrations with this document, in order to receive salaries, medical expenses reimbursements, or allowances directly onto your bank account.

Facing difficulties to open an account ?
Opening a bank account is a right recognised by French authorities. If you are facing difficulties to open a bank account, there is a procedure to follow with the Banque de France called « droit au compte ». The Banque de France will appoint a bank that will have to open an account for you.
More information on the Banque de France website

Good to know

The Isère Préfecture requires a document called ‘attestation bancaire’ for some administrative steps (such as residence permit renewal). Make sure that the bank where you open an account will be able to provide you with this document if needed.

Taxes in France


Housing tax (‘taxe d’habitation’)
Income tax
Annual income tax return
Contacts and useful links

  • HOUSING TAX ('taxe d'habitation')
What is the housing tax ?
The housing tax is an annual local tax which depends on the characteristics of your accommodation, its location, and your personal situation (revenues, composition of household, …) on the 1st of January.
You do not need to file any tax return, and its amount is calculated automatically. You will receive a tax notice during the last term of the year, either by post or online on your tax account if you have one.

Who is liable ?
You are liable if you are an owner, tenant, co-tenant, or if you are occupying gratuitously your housing at the 1st of January, even if you are moving during the year.
You are exonerated if you are a student living in a CROUS residence, or if you are occupying a furnished room at someone who is renting or sub-renting parts of its accommodation (“chambre chez l’habitant”).

Tax abatement in 2019
Since 2019, you can benefit from a reduction (tax abatement) of this tax depending on your revenues and your household composition.
You can make a simulation to know if you are eligible to this abatement in 2019.

Make a claim
If you have difficulties paying or if you think that you have been taxed incorrectly, it is possible to make a claim to your local tax office in the required delays. These claims can be made online, directly at your local tax office, or by postal letter. You might then be able to benefit from extensions, or from a partial abatement depending on your situation.

  • INCOME TAX
Since January 1st 2019, the income tax in France is deducted at source: it is directly and automatically withdrawn from your salary, and appears on your pay slip.

Who is concerned?
All salaried employees domiciled in France are taxable on all their revenues (of French and foreign sources).
Please note that France has signed international conventions with many different States, which include special provisions, particularly for international researchers.

Which tax rate will apply ?
Neutral rate
If you recently arrived in France or are coming back after a mobility of more than three years, and/or are not yet known by the French tax authorities, the neutral rate will be applied by default (in accordance with the tax grid, article 204 H of the French General tax code).
This rate varies according to your salary but does not take into consideration your personal or family situation.
Personalized rate
Unlike the neutral rate, the personalized rate is adapted to your personal and family situation. You can apply for a personalized income tax rate as soon as you arrive in France.

What is the procedure upon arrival?
If you have a French work contract upon your arrival in France, you can “register” with the local tax office of your place of residence, by asking for a fiscal number and a personalized income tax rate: fill out the form n°2043, and send it by post to your local tax office. If an international convention exists between your country and France, remember to attach it to your mail.
Once you have your fiscal number, you can create your personal account on the website impots.gouv.fr in order to make all your procedures online, and contact the tax office more easily.
If an international convention applies in your situation, you can then send a letter to your local tax office asking for the reimbursement of the tax overpayment that was withdrawn from your salary since your arrival.

  • ANNUAL INCOME TAX RETURN
Who must file an income tax return?
Even if the income tax is deducted at source, you still have to complete an income tax return every year. This enables the tax authorities to regularize your situation and to recalculate your tax rate according to your situation.

Students under 26 years old and interns
Students aged 25 years old maximum on January 1st of the tax year, and interns, can be exempted from income tax, within the limit of a certain amount of income. These tax-free incomes, under a certain amount, thus do not need to be declared on the annual income tax return.
More information on the website impots.gouv.fr

When must you complete your income tax return?
Usually between April and June.
Deadlines are set each year, and vary depending on your residence area, and the way you will complete your tax return (online or by post).
These deadlines are important, you must respect them.
> The calendar for 2020 is available here

HOW TO FILE MY INCOME TAX RETURN?
Filing returns online has become mandatory, except if your main home does not have an internet access or if you think you cannot do it online.
Covid-19 - Given the current situation, everyone who is able to is invited to file returns online.

  • You file an income tax return in France for the first time
Since 2019, it is possible for new declarants recently arrived in France to file their return online. However, you will need a French fiscal number.
You have a French fiscal number – You can then create your personal account online, on impots.gouv.fr, if you have not done so yet, and thus access the online declaration service via this personal account.
You do not have a French fiscal number – You must start by asking for a French fiscal number: either online on impots.gouv.fr, or by going to your local tax office with a proof of identity and a proof of address. You will then be able to create your personal account on impots.gouv.fr and access the online declaration service, via your personal account.
If you were unable to get a French fiscal number, you need to complete a paper return form, and send or take it to your local tax office. The income tax return form for the current year will be downloadable on the website impots.gouv.fr: ‘formulaire de déclaration de revenus n°2042’ (Millésime 2020).

  • You completed your income tax return in France last year
Automatic declaration – new in 2020 – If you are eligible to this new automatic declaration, you will be informed by the tax office: by email if you have completed your return online in 2019, or by post if you completed a paper return in 2019.
You then need to verify the information transmitted by the tax office: if all is correct, you have nothing else to do, your return will be validated automatically; if some elements need to be added or modified, you then need to complete your return online.
Online declaration – If you are not eligible to the new automatic declaration, you need to complete your tax return online, via your personal account on impots.gouv.fr.

Important
Many international conventions have been signed, most particularly in order to avoid double taxation. If there is one between your country and France, remember to mention it when you complete your income tax return.

More information on the 2020 income tax declaration
On the website impots.gouv.fr
On the website service-public.fr

  • CONTACTS AND USEFUL LINKS
-To find the contact details of your local tax office in France: impots.gouv.fr/portail/contacts
-Website impots.gouv.fr
-Dedicated telephone line on the deducted at source income tax (‘prélèvement à la source’) (in French only): 0 809 401 401
-Dedicated website on the deducted at source income tax: economie.gouv.fr/prelevement-a-la-source
-Contact details of the non-residents tax office, if you have left France:
Service des impôts des non-résidents – SIPNR
10 rue du Centre, TSA 10010, 93465 Noisy-le-Grand Cedex
Tel : 00 33 (0)1 72 95 20 42

Updated on April 8, 2020

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