The CAF vouchers may just be the extra help you need to go on vacation with your kids if you live in France. Holiday vouchers offer families a great deal of freedom of choice according to their very diverse practices (sports and cultural activities, holidays, weekends, etc.).
Not every household can afford to go on vacations. The French family allowance fund called CAF will provide you with extra aid to support access to local leisure activities for under-aged children.
Be aware that the conditions and amounts will vary depending on the French department of residence where you live. Each CAF office has its own criteria for delivering the “chèque-vacances”, so the amounts provided below are for information only. However, the overall system will be the same.
Let’s see how it works.
How to get holiday vouchers?
First, you need to be registered with your local CAF. Your registration can be done online or directly at the CAF office.
The CAF voucher campaign usually starts in March.
With your CAF registration, CAF will know your income level and family situation. If you meet the criteria that I will detail further down, you will receive the order form from March 1st by email if you have provided it or by postal mail. Make sure you return it signed to CAF before the stated deadline.
If you haven’t received anything, you can also log on to your CAF online account to place your order before the deadline which is usually in March or April depending on the year and the CAF where you live.
Enter your benefit number and click on “validate”: you will immediately know whether or not you are eligible for Holiday Vouchers. Then, click on “validate”, and if you wish, enter a valid e-mail address (in order to receive the acknowledgement of receipt of your order).
You must enter your first and last name and click on “validate your holiday voucher order”. If you have entered a valid e-mail address, you will automatically receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your order by email. If you have received a letter, you also have the possibility to return this letter, which has the value of an order form, before the deadline of 31 March.
Conditions to receive CAF vouchers
Holiday CAF vouchers are awarded to the children of families who meet the following conditions:
- Be a CAF recipient in October of the previous year (to receive the 2022 CAF voucher you would need to receive CAF benefits in October 2021)
- Have a family quota less than an amount going from €600 up to €900 in January of the year you are receiving the CAF voucher (this quota is calculated by CAF based on your income level and family situation and will appear on your CAF online account and is likely to change every year)
- Have at least one child aged between 6 and 18 (the age bracket may vary based on your French department of residence, some will allocate CAF vouchers for children from 3 y.o.)
In addition, your household income, the number of children in your care and your holiday wishes (such as renting a mobile home or homestay for example) are also taken into account, but at a different level for each CAF office.
What is the amount of the CAF vouchers?
Again, the amount you may receive differs from one CAF to another. Furthermore, it is important to remember that this amount may vary from one year to the next, and from one region to the next.
If you received €500 last year, it is not certain that it will be the same amount this year, or next year.
It is therefore essential to contact your CAF in order to benefit from the advantages to which you are entitled.
What is the deadline for ordering holiday vouchers?
The deadline for ordering is 31 March. After this date, it will no longer be possible to order holiday vouchers for the current year.
Your ordered Holiday Vouchers will be sent by post in early July.
When you receive your holiday vouchers, don’t forget to detach the first page, which can be useful in case of loss or theft of the chequebook.
What if I’m a divorced parent with shared custody?
For families with children in an alternating residence without sharing family benefits or exercising a right of accommodation for the children, you must apply to the CAF to study your request for holiday vouchers.
To do this, you must send your Y-2 resources (so that your family quotient for the previous year can be calculated) as well as a copy of the judgement setting out the custody arrangements for the children or a statement on honour specifying the full names and date of birth of your children and the custody arrangements set out.
Where can I use the Holiday CAF vouchers?
More than 200,000 tourism and leisure professionals accept holiday vouchers. They are easily recognisable thanks to the sticker on their shop window.
To find out where to use your holiday vouchers, the company managing the CAF voucher, ANCV, provides an online guide at www.ancv.com. You will find the Guide des Vacances, des loisirs et du sport. Thanks to its multi-criteria search engine, you can easily find where to use your holiday vouchers.
This guide also allows you to select the professionals who offer discounts as well as those with the Tourism&Disability label.
How long can I use my holiday vouchers?
Holiday Vouchers are valid for 2 years in addition to their year of issue (a voucher issued in 2022 is valid until 31 December 2024).
They can therefore be accumulated over several years to carry out a more expensive project.
At the end of the validity period, if you have not used all your vouchers, you can ask for their exchange.
And a good thing to know is that ANCV can even reissue your unused vouchers once their expiry date has passed.
How to book your vacation with CAF vouchers?
Here are the different steps:
1. Choose your vacation location
In practice, you must first choose the destination you are interested in, only on the website www.vacaf.org.
2. Make contact
When you are sure that it corresponds in all criteria to your wish, you must contact your future holiday destination (contact details available on the VACAF catalogue).
3. Inform the organisation
Immediately mention that your family is entitled to family holiday assistance by giving your personal CAF number.
4. Receive the price proposal
The establishment of your future holiday will then make you a proposal, which you are free to decline or accept by asking to receive your booking file (available online).
5. Pay in full or your family contribution
The total amount does not have to be paid in full by you, but only in part; once the CAF aid has been deducted (this is called the family contribution).
Your reservation will be validated as soon as we receive your deposit and your completed application form.
What to remember
If you are already a CAF recipient (allocataire CAF), log on to your account now (March or April at the latest) to check if you are entitled to holiday CAF vouchers and request them before the deadline.
If you are not a CAF recipient, it is a good idea to register in prevision for next year even if you are not sure whether your income level and family situation will get you any type of benefits.
I hope this will help you a bit navigate the French aid system and give the opportunity to your children to go more on vacation if you are on a tight budget.