The Rules: France

France has a history of bureaucracy that can be frustrating when carrying out common tasks like registering a vehicle or changing address. However, for Proper BnB owners this should work in our favour as the airbnb advocates have problems in meeting the requirements and often don’t try. The issue is that no one appears to be interested in chasing up illegal operators but more on that later.

Who can own and run a bed and breakfast in France?

Anyone who is legally resident in France can operate a bed and breakfast in France. There are different levels of bed and breakfast with different requirements but we will concentrate on the smallest bed and breakfast, the Chambre d’hôtes. The owner must reside in the Chambre d’hôtes and they can offer a maximum of 5 bed and breakfast rooms for a maximum of 15 people. Larger operations can register as a Maison d’hôtes which has it’s own rules and regulations.  It is not allowed for a foreign resident to own and operate a Chambre d’hôtes. as the owner must reside in the property.  It is also possible for  renting a house to establish a Chambre d’hôtes as long as their rental contract allows it.

It is allowed to own and operate holiday homes from abroad, often called gites. Gites have a different set of regulations not discussed in this article. It is not allowed to provide Chambre dèhôtes in a gite as the owner does not live in the accommodation.

Regulation L 324-4 du code du tourisme

The Chambre d’hôtes must be declared at the Mairie using form Cerfa N°13566*02.

The fine for not declaring is €1500.

Regulation L 324-3 du code du tourisme

  • Owner must reside in the property
  • Maximum of 5 rental rooms with each having access to a bathroom and WC.
  • Maximum of 15 guests on any one night.
  • Breakfast must be served and must be included in the room rate.
  • Minimum room size of 9 m2 excluding bathroom.
  • Linen must be supplied and changed between guests and otherwise as required.
  • Smoke detectors are compulsory.
  • CO detectors are compulsory where solid fuel or gas is being used.
  • Price transparency as for hotels. The normal (read maximum) room price must be displayed outside the property, inside unless there is a proper reception, and in each rental room.
  • An Invoice / Receipt must be provided with detailed breakdown – reliance on OTAs to provide this is not acceptable. It must contain the owners name, address and SIRET number and the guests name and address. The fine for not providing this is €1500 in each case.

Registration in the Trade Register (RCS)
When the activity is carried out on an ongoing basis or as a principal occupation then it constitutes a commercial activity and the owners are required to register in the Register of Trade and Companies (RCS) and to register with the Business Formalities Center (CFE) of the Chamber of Commerce. These formalities are mandatory, regardless of the income generated by the activity, under penalty of constituting an offense for concealed work (€4500 fine and/or 6 months in prison).  Generally, if the Chambre d’hôtes is on one of the OTAs or has a website, FB Page etc then it is an ongoing business and must be registered with RCS / CFER.  The activity code is 5520Z : Hébergement touristique et autre hébergement de courte durée.

Note: this is not to be confused with the requirement to affiliate with a social security regime which is income related (see below).

Table d’hôtes

This special service enables Chambre d’hôtes operators to offer an evening meal without the rigorous requirements expected of a restaurant.

Ingredients should be sourced locally where possible and the following rules are fixed – there are no exceptions:

  • The price must be displayed as per the room rates.
  • Only one fixed menu can be offered.
  • Only one table is to be used and the meal must be taken with the owners.
  • Alcohol can only be served or sold as it pertains to the meal.
  • A petit restaurant or a grand restaurant license “en ce qui concerne la chambre d’hôtes” must be held by the owner.  Strictly, this is only necessary if alcohol is served, sold, or otherwise offered, allowed or provided alongside the meal (e.g. bring your own does not avoid the requirement).  However, the police take the view that this is France and it would be very strange not to have a drink with dinner.  The consequence of being found providing or allowing alcohol on the premises without a license is being closed down and then prosecuted.  The license can be obtained via the Mairie after taking the training (see below). The license is free.  It must be displayed.
  • A non smoking sign is required in the dining room.

Regulations L. 3332-1-1 du code de la santé publique

  • Compliance with the hygiene safety and sanitation regulations
  • Display the source of Food Items publicly
  • Separate hand washing to food preparation / washing up sinks
  • Table d’hôtes operators must take a 1 day training course “Permis d’exploitation en ce qui concerne la chambre d’hôtes”.  This training costs from €250 to €450 depending on the region and it includes alcohol awareness as well as basic hygiene requirements.
  • Table d’hôtes operators must also inform their Prefecteur of their intent to supply meat dishes with details of the sources of meat and meat products.  Once informed the Prefecteur will arrange an inspection within 2 years.

Income Tax – Regulation F31521

The Chambre d’hôtes falls under the tax regime of the “parahôtellerie” as opposed to that of furnished rentals.
Income must be reported under one of the following regimes:

  • Industrial and Commercial Profits (BIC): profits made by natural persons who exercise a commercial profession. In this case icome and expenses are declared as normal and used to calculate the taxable profit.
  • Microenterprises (for autoentrepreneurs), if turnover excluding tax does not exceed € 170,000.  In this case the profit is calculated after a lump sum expense reduction of 71%, so the taxable income corresponds to 29% of the turnover.

However, if the income does not exceed €760 per year, it is exempt from income tax (except for autoentrepreneurs and microenterprises using the microfiscal pay as you go scheme).

Affiliating with Sécurité sociale indépendants – Regulation F31521

RSI was replaced with “Sécurité sociale indépendants” in 2018. The conditions and liability to register does not change.  If the income from the Chambre d’hôtes is less than €5165 then there is no obligation to register.  Instead, the owner will be charged 17.2% of turnover for social contributions at the same time as income tax is collected.  When the income is over €5165 then the owner must register and pay approx 13% of turnover on a monthly or quarterly basis if registered as a Microenterprise or 48% of profits if registered as an Independent Real. As a Microenterprise it is also possible to pay income tax “as you go” at a rate of approx 2% in which case the income is not counted towards the taw burden at year end, although it still has to be declared.

Value added tax (TVA)

If turnover exceeds 82,200, the Chambres d’hôtes is subject to TVA at the rate of 10% for the accommodation and any food service (except for alcoholic beverages taxed at 20%). Below that income level TVA is not applied in which case all invoices must carry the notice “TVA non applicable, art 293B due CGI”.

Tourist tax

If the bed and breakfast is located in a tourist commune where the tax is in pace then the owner must collect it.  More details available from your local tourist office.

Local Tax

Tax d’habitation applies to the property as it is the owners home.  A Chambre d’hôtes is not reclassified like a hotel and remains in the category of private dwelling.  Tax Fonciere also stays the same but there will also be a small Business Use Tax Fonciere.

Decree 2015-1002

Guest Details:

Pursuant to Decree 2015-1002 of 18 August 2015, all providers providing tourist accommodation are required to have foreigners complete and sign, upon arrival, an individual police form comprising:

  • The name and first names (Children under the age of 15 may appear on the accompanying adult card);
  • Date and place of birth;
  • Nationality;
  • Address
  • Mobile phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Date of arrival and date of departure.

The cards must be kept for a period of six months and given, at their request, to the police and gendarmerie units. This transmission can be done electronically or in paper form.

Note: In a state of emergency this is extended to domestic as well as foreign guests.

The easiest way to achieve this is to have a guest card for all guests and make it a normal part of the check in process with certain fields oly completed by foreigners.

One interesting question is, with GDPR now in place, can you then  contact your ex-guests by email?  This is covered in an excellent article here.