Latest News from BPCA

12 May 2021

Opinion: Vive la France? Observations on pest control licensing in France

OPINION | PPC103 MAY 2021

In PPC103 Robert Moon, director of Applicateur3D, looked at whether British pest controllers should be licensed like those in France. 

Vive-la-france-main-image

In 2010, having already lived in France for four years, I found myself in need of a pest controller. I quickly noticed a gap in the market - no Brits were qualified to trade legally as pest controllers anywhere in France.

With the guidance and mentoring from a friend in the UK, I was able to find the relevant training centres.

Over several weeks, I took several courses and exams. It transpired that I was the first, and still over ten years later, the only Brit in France with a French diploma in Pest Control, Certibiocides.

This is valid for five years, whereupon another entire training course must be taken.

For the protection of plant matter (crops etc), you must have a certificate Cert Phytosanitaire, but this does not qualify you as an Applicateur3D.

The French system

Any person in France who wishes to run a business must be registered. If you have never been self-employed before, you must do a week-long training course just to get your trading (Siret) number.

Your Siret number must be written on websites, letterheads, invoices, flyers and even business cards. You also need to register your ‘Activité Principale de l'Entreprise’ (main business activity along with other aspects of your activity).

People politely ask each other in business about their ‘métier’ vocation. The French respect this, as it shows you have received formal training. You are an artisan, a master of your trade.

There is a diploma for being a window cleaner, a taxi driver, a chimney sweep. Pest control in French is Dératisation, Désinsectisation, Désinfection (3D), the generic term being an Applicateur3D.

To purchase any products from distributors, sell or gain financially as an Applicateur3D, it is obligatory to hold a Certibiocides diploma and have a Siret number. All products must be purchased and authorised for use in France. All labels, data and reports must be in French.

An artisan’s attitude

A window cleaner will clean windows. A roofer will ‘roof’. If they were to come across a wasp nest, they would walk off-site and demand that a qualified pest controller treats the nest before returning.

Is it a restriction of trade? Others deem France as a nation where the entrepreneur is frowned upon. It’s not true. They just don’t appreciate chancers earning a fast buck in the latest fad without formal training.

Being a pest controller carries enormous responsibilities. You’re often using products that can kill – not just target species, but inappropriate use can harm wildlife, pets, humans, and the environment.

Having a diploma (your licence to practice) proves that you’ve received training and have a level of understanding of the cause and effect of your actions. By being licensed, you’re accountable. After all, a licence can be revoked.

Robert Moon, Applicateur3D

Buying rodenticides or insecticides from a supermarket does not make one a qualified pest controller.

Having a diploma (your licence to practice) proves that you’ve received training and have a level of understanding of the cause and effect of your actions. By being licensed, you’re accountable. After all, a licence can be revoked.

Your role in French society

The actions of one rogue individual can ruin the reputation of an industry. The penalties in France are severe for transgressors. The French like nothing more than reporting people to the authorities (especially Brits!). There are no exceptions, no warnings, no excuses.

Thinking about moving to France and becoming a pest controller? UK qualifications for pest control are not valid in France. They’ve never been recognised; it’s not a ‘Brexit-thing’.

These are the personal observations from an Englishman trading as a pest controller in France. Approved, legal, insured, respected... and licensed.

Follow up questions

Should we be more French this side of the channel?

Should pest controllers be licensed in the UK? In the UK to be a gas engineer, a dog breeder, and to do ear piercing, you need to be licensed. Inappropriate pest control can harm the whole sector and, at worst, can kill. So in my opinion, YES!

What about the DIY-ers? Does the licensing stop amateur pest management?

Regarding DIY, the shops will never stop supplying pesticide products to the public. There’s too much money involved.

DIYers will still DIY, but they usually fail (mainly because they don’t read the instructions!).

It is illegal to use pesticides anywhere except on your property or land, even as a freebie favour for your neighbour, unless you have a licence. It is illegal for me to sell any professional pesticides to anybody or business without a licence.

Should pest controllers be licensed in the UK? In the UK to be a gas engineer, a dog breeder, and to do ear piercing, you need to be licensed. Inappropriate pest control can harm the whole sector and, at worst, can kill.

Robert Moon, Applicateur3D

Want to be French? The editor speaks...

Should the UK be licensed in a similar way to the French system? Would you be willing to pay to requalify every five years to stamp out the ‘chancers’ (even if it didn’t stop the DIY-ers)? Would you be ready to upgrade your Level 2 qualification to a more involved diploma?

Earlier this year, BPCA reported on our 2018-2020 strategy. One task was to explore a viable licensing structure for the professional pest management sector.

We explored the setting up of a new professional body for pest professionals. It was decided that the sector was not ready for this mainly because the industry already has two trade associations, and the existing qualification requirements are too low for a professional body.

BPCA hasn’t given up on this objective and instead is committed to developing individual recognition and a training framework fit for the future - but it’s a long road ahead.

Agree with Robert?

Would you like to see licensing in the UK? Wish we were all a bit more French? Send us your views on licensing, and we might print them here.

hello@bpca.org.uk

Source: PPC103