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U.S. State Department warns vigilance in Europe

November 18th, 2017 No comments

The U.S. State Department just sent out a travel alert for Europe from now till Jan. 31, 2018.

They want to make sure American citizens in Europe are especially vigilante about their travel plans and surroundings (especially holiday festivals and events), as there are ongoing terrorist threats in Europe.

I encourage you to go visit Europe – you’ll be thankful you did. Or, if you’re moving there or have just moved there – don’t worry but do be cautious about public gatherings. Don’t let this keep you from enjoying une bouteille de vin with your friends.

I’ve included the main contact information for citizens below. You can see full alert on the U.S. State Department website here. I also highly encourage you to make digital copies of your passport and travel documents, and register for the STEP program below. Travel wise! – Michael

United States Embassy

American Citizen Services Unit

4, avenue Gabriel

75382 Paris Cedex 08

France

Telephone in France: 01 43 12 22 22

Telephone from U.S.: (011 33) 1 43 12 22 22

Website:https://fr.usembassy.gov

American Citizen Services: e-mail – citizeninfo@state.gov

Updated guide to expat taxes in France

November 10th, 2017 No comments

When you live in France as an expat, one of the most important topics that has a lasting impact on you is taxation. We all hate it, but it’s an essential part of the expat experience. Plus, it funds important services for healthcare, retirement, education, infrastructure, etc. I recommend you hire an accountant to help you with taxes, because of all the regulations, codes and exceptions. But these links and guides below can be a helpful start.

A map of world currencies (Gerry Rea Partners)

Here are some key links:
Main French government website for taxes
UK guide to taxes on foreign income
US IRS info on taxes
Canada Embassy in France (under “Fiscalité”)
French Property guide to expat taxes (not just property tax)
Expats Paris Visual Guide to French Tax Returns (awesome)

Lastly, Expatica has a great page about doing your taxes in France.

It covers the wide array of topics below.
If you have any tips or stories, please feel free to post as a comment.

  • Dual taxation in France
  • Calculating your taxes in France
  • French tax rates 2017
  • French taxes for non-residents
  • Filing your French tax return
  • French tax refunds and credits
  • Paying your French taxes
  • Other mandatory French taxes for residents
  • French capital gains tax
  • French wealth tax
  • French property taxes: owners and renters
  • Inheritance tax in France
  • VAT in France
  • Corporate tax in France
  • Social security taxes in France
  • French tax authority

Bonne année ! France’s 2017 public holidays, time changes

Bonne année and Happy New Year! Best wishes to you all for 2017. I’ll be posting a lot more this year.

Expatica has a good page dedicated to France’s public holidays in 2017.

As you may know, the French tend to look forward to May every year, particularly if those holidays fall close to weekends so they can “faire le pont” (bridge the weekend); i.e., if the holiday is on a Thursday, take the Friday off and make it a 4-day weekend. It is indeed glorious.

You can see a brief review here below.

French national holidays

January 1: New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)

April 14: Good Friday – applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.

April 17: Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)

May 1: Labour Day (Fête du premier mai)

May 8: WWII Victory Day (Fête du huitième mai or Jour de la Victoire 45)

May 25: Ascension Day (Jour de l’Ascension, 40 days after Easter)

June 5: Whit Monday – also known as Pentecost Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte).

July 14: Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

November 1: All Saints Day (La Toussaint)

November 11: Armistice Day (Jour d’armistice)

December 25: Christmas Day (Noël)

December 26: Boxing Day/St Stephen’s Day (Deuxième jour de Noël): applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.


Important French holidays

March 26: Clocks go forward one hour as daylight saving time (DST) starts.

April 1: April Fool’s Day (Poisson d’Avril)

May 28: Mother’s day (last Sunday in May)

June 18: Father’s day (third Sunday in June)

October 29: Clocks go back one hour (DST ends).


French school holidays

School dates vary according to which ‘zone’ you’re in. The French Ministry of Education maintains a comprehensive list of school holidays in France.

Where to find petrol (gas) in France

The Local France has an interactive map of where to find gas (petrol) stations that have supplies. They also have a map of where the gas shortage is being felt the worst.

The Economist has some essential reading from May 27 that covers the recent mayhem including more than 2,300 petrol stations that are either dry or rationing portions.

Travel wisely and be safe. I’ll be Tweeting updates from my handle @AmExpatFrance.

Strikes in France – what to know

France strikes - taken from The Economist (link below)

France strikes – taken from The Economist (link below)

Essential reading from The Economist (May 27)
Article here focuses on all that is going on in France.

Update May 27 from US Embassy Paris:

Full link to travel advisory

“…The following strikes have been announced for the week of May 30:

Rail – The national unions which represents rail workers renewed their call for strikes limiting rail services along the TVG, RER and SNCF networks. An “unlimited strike” is scheduled to start at 9 am on Tuesday, May 31 for a period of at least 24 hours.

Paris-area Public Transportation – The union representing the Paris metro area transportation (RATP) has called for an “unlimited strike” starting on June 2 of all public transportation services, including the Paris metro, buses, and RER trains.

Air – Air traffic controllers have also called for strikes Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5 which could result in delays or cancellations of flights originating in France…”

By now, you have probably heard that France has been undergoing rounds of strikes and protests over the past couple months. This is in large part due to proposed labor reforms. Of course most of you know that strikes and public outcry are a way of life in France that most people tend to accept with a shrug.

The Local France has an interesting piece on this cultural reality, as well as countless publications in the past including BBC and Slate. Even The Onion got in on the humor with a fake French protest image back in 2005.

But this time seems to be different: these are arguably the strikes with the most impact in 20 years. Taken with the ongoing “state of emergency” that France has put into place since the November terrorist attacks (and have extended), France has a palpable undercurrent of tension.

For now, what you should know about the strikes: 
These strikes are affecting transportation, oil refineries, nuclear power stations and more throughout the country. The BBC outlines the main points of the proposed reforms here along with more coverage of the action. I’ve laid those out at the end of this post.

The Economist also has an interesting piece on the strikes – anticipating action throughout the summer.

Another useful guide is from the great folks at The Local. Local resources in France for tracking news updates include the SNCF website, which currently states that traffic should start resuming to normal May 27 but to keep abreast of updates. Their travel agency Voyages SNCF also has a helpful resource for train travel updates.

You should also stay abreast of airline travel through your local airline. Aéroports de Paris does have general updates as well for Paris Orly and Paris CDG traffic.

BFM TV, Libération, France 24 and Le Monde are also great resources.

At the time of this being published, there have been clashes reported by protestors in Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux and other major cities. Your local embassy should be the best resource for expat nationals living and traveling in France for up to date security information. The US Embassy, for example, has contact info here and updates on their Twitter feed.

Want to brush up on your French travel vocabulary? Try About.com or FluentU.

If you have travel plans to France or are thinking of moving there in the coming year, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so – just do your research and travel intelligently. I have lived in France for 30% of my entire life at different times as an intern, student, grad student, English teacher and employee. It is a place that is dear to me, and I would love for you to also have those life-changing experiences.

Travel smartly, safely and avoid protest areas. Take a lesson from my French friends and enjoy life, drink some wine and sit back to see how this evolves. C’est la vie, enfin.

French labour reform bill – main points

  • The 35-hour week remains in place, but as an average. Firms can negotiate with local trade unions on more or fewer hours from week to week, up to a maximum of 46 hours
  • Firms are given greater freedom to reduce pay
  • The law eases conditions for laying off workers, strongly regulated in France. It is hoped companies will take on more people if they know they can shed jobs in case of a downturn
  • Employers given more leeway to negotiate holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These are currently also heavily regulated

Calling all former Teaching Assistants in France for Survey!

One of my most memorable years living in France was as an English Teaching Assistant through a French government program in Lyon, from 2007 to 2008. It’s called Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF).

French Education logo

I taught in a high school and associate’s degree level college in Lyon, and this experience helped shape me professionally and personally for years to come and led to many great opportunities. I met friends from all over the world who were Assistants in other languages. In Lyon’s Académie, there were 12 languages taught.

You can learn more about the Teaching program in France here.

They are currently conducting a survey of former Teaching Assistants now thru May 20th. This will help current and future assistants, and also inform approaches on future possible alumni networks. In fact, the survey is dedicated to forming a “new Alumni initiative of the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF)”.

It takes 3 minutes to fill out – totally worth it.

You can find the survey here.

The message from TAPIF is below. Your input is vital! Thank you.

Bonjour TAPIF Alumni,

We are reaching out to engage you in a new Alumni initiative of the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). With the objective of better connecting former Assistants de langue en France with relevant employment, educational, and cultural opportunities post-TAPIF, we are collecting information from alumni to inform the design of a nationwide Alumni network with regional Chapters. We are seeking your input, specifically about where you are, what you’re doing, how French language and culture plays a role in your life, and what you might like to gain from a TAPIF Alumni network.

We hope to design a program that helps you connect your experiences in France with your professional trajectory. We ask that you complete a voluntary survey to help us best design and launch an Alumni Network that works for you. All responses will be kept anonymous and confidential. This survey consists of 12 questions and takes less than 3 minutes to complete.

Please complete this survey before May 20th, 2016.

French unemployment rate drops 1.7% in March

France’s economy saw 60,000 fewer jobless claims in March, a 1.7% decline month-over-month. This is the largest monthly rate since September 2000. While this is great news for the economy, the country still has structural problems and issues it must work through over the next several years. France 24 has more on this here. Are you impacted at all by this drop in jobless claims?

Nationwide strikes in France set for April 5

Attention, travelers and residents in France: There will be nationwide strikes Tuesday April 5th. I’ve put an important note from the US Embassy with further info below. Stay safe and travel smart!

April 4, 2016

U.S. Embassy Paris, France

Security Message for U.S. Citizens:
Strikes in France on April 5, 2016

Several unions nationwide have called on their workers to again strike in protest of the government’s proposed reforms to the labor law.

Multiple national unions have called for country-wide strikes on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Affected sectors include:

  • Public education and schools;
  • Postal system;
  • Aviation;
  • Waste removal;
  • Public transport; and,
  • Rail services.

Given transportation difficulties, reaching airports and train stations may take longer than usual.  Lines are likely to be long.  There could be resulting delays to trains and flights throughout France.  Travelers are advised to have their tickets in hand and to allow extra time if traveling on Wednesday.

Please consult various sources of local information as you prepare your plans forTuesday, including local TV stations and websites (to include BFMTV, Le Parisien, and France24), as well as:

RATP – Paris local transport system – for information on metros, buses, and RER lines:

http://www.ratp.fr/informer/trafic/trafic.php

Transilien – for Paris region transport:

http://www.transilien.com/info-trafic/temps-reel

SNCF – for national and regional rail travel – input the # of your train and find out whether it will run or not:

http://www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic

Twitter feeds for your particular metro and/or RER line(s) are always very helpful, as are the Twitter feeds of the Paris Prefecture de Police (#prefpolice) and Aéroports de Paris (#AeroportsParis), the latter of which also provides information on traffic conditions to/from CDG and Orly airports.  If you live outside of Paris, consult your local transport systems and news sources, or search “greve 5 avril” in Twitter for updates.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.  Avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.  Large public gatherings can affect all major incoming arteries to the city in which they occur.  Demonstrations in one city have the potential to lead to additional public rallies or demonstrations in other locations around the city and country.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to access local media to stay abreast of developments, avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

For further information:

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in France, located at 4, Avenue Gabriel, Paris,
    +33 (1) 43 12 22 22, 9:00am – 6:00pmMonday through Friday.
    After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +33 (1) 43 12 22 22.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Brussels under attack: What you should know

If you somehow haven’t heard yet, ISIS (Daesh) terrorists carried out bombings at Brussels International Airport and a metro station downtown near the EU HQ on March 22. There are thought to be 34+ deaths and 200+ injured, with those tolls probably to rise as forensics teams struggle to identify victims.

Flights have been canceled in and out of Brussels, as well as Eurostar trains. Brussels metro system is also shut down. Contact your travel company for information on your individual plans. Belgian authorities are calling for vigilance.

You can see up-to-date coverage on media including France 24, BBC, NY Times, Economist, Flanders News (local) and CNN. I also recommend following the news on Twitter. For those of you who are American, I suggested registering for the US State Department travel alerts & warnings and their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The UK’s Foreign Ministry has a similar service, as does Australia.  Belgium’s Foreign Ministry and that of France are also great resources.

In addition to social  media outreach, diplomatic letters of support were sent the world over including from the US and France.

My thoughts and prayers with the families and victims of Brussels. I personally have over 20 friends there and luckily they are accounted for. I’ve been there several times and each time the Belgian people are very welcoming. My heart goes out to you.

 

 

FranceBelgiumSolidarity2016

France facing significant strikes this week, will impact train travel

French labor unions and student groups are on strike around France right now thru March 10th. This is impacting travel throughout the country. Make sure to check SNCF’s time tracking website for updates to train schedules as well as the Paris transit system RATP.

France24 has great coverage of this here and the US State Department has issued the travel warning below for expats.

Bon courage, les amies, les amis.

SNCF_strike_March2016

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Strikes in France on March 8-10, 2016

On March 8 -10, 2016, members of several unions and student groups plan both strikes and protests all across France. These protests and strike actions are likely to make travel and/or local transport (including movement by private vehicle or taxi) difficult.

Nationwide, the unions that represent 70% of SNCF employees have called on their employees to strike; local media report that this is the first time since June 2013 that the four biggest unions have been unified in their intention to strike, suggesting that the participation rate could be very high and disruption accordingly significant.

In Paris, unions representing local transport authority RATP will also be striking, leading to possible slowdowns on the Metro, buses, and RER.

In separate actions, several groups plan to converge on the Place de la République in Paris at 2 pm from various assembly points across the city to protest the government’s consideration of reforms to the labor laws.

Unions have called on their members to meet around Paris metro station ‘Ecole Militaire’ to march on the MEDEF headquarters in the 7th arrondissement on avenue Bosquet. From there, they intend to head to the Labor Ministry on rue de Grenelle before heading for the Place de la République.

Student and young people’s groups have called on their participants to gather at Place de la Nation in the east of the city before marching to République.

Please note that the actual strike plans filed by the transport workers’ unions designate a start of the action at 8 pm Tuesday night, March 8, and a finish Thursday morning, March 10, at about 8 am.

Please consult various sources of local information for updates, including local TV stations and websites (to include BFMTV, Le Parisien, and France24), as well as:

RATP – Paris local transport system – for information on metros, buses, and RER lines:

http://www.ratp.fr/informer/trafic/trafic.php

Transilien – for Paris region transport:

http://www.transilien.com/info-trafic/temps-reel

SNCF – for national and regional rail travel:
http://www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic

Twitter feeds for particular metro and/or RER line(s) are always very helpful, as are the Twitter feeds of the Paris Prefecture de Police (@prefpolice) and Aéroports de Paris (@AeroportsParis), which also provides information on traffic conditions to/from CDG and Orly airports.

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. Avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Large public gatherings can affect all major incoming arteries to the city in which they occur. Demonstrations in one city have the potential to lead to additional public rallies or demonstrations in other locations around the city and country.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to access local media to stay abreast of developments, avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

For further information:

  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in France, located at 4, Avenue Gabriel, Paris,
    +33 (1) 43 12 22 22, 9:00am – 6:00pmMonday through Friday.
    After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +33 (1) 43 12 22 22.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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