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Relocation Guide to France

If you are considering relocating to France in the near future, you will be in good company. It is estimated that around 10% of the country’s population are immigrants. The attraction of France is clear; it is safe, it has an extremely high standard of living, it offers easy access to the rest of Europe, it has a transport system which is the envy of the world, and it has stunning scenery. Whether you want to move to one of France’s cosmopolitan and affluent cities, to the North, West, South coast, to a quiet village, or to the mountains, you have a wide range of options available. To establish a new life, secure employment, and bring your family with you will take time and knowledge of the local systems, customs, and immigration rules. In this article, we will provide a guide to relocating to France, including immigration considerations, what you need to do on arrival, and the paperwork you need to complete.

Acquire A Visa Before Travelling To France

If you are a national of a country in the European Union (EU), you will not need to apply for a visa to enter, live, and work in France. If you are from a country outside of the EU, it is important to check if you need a visa, and if so, which one. As you are planning to relocate to France, you will most likely need a long-stay visa and, when you arrive, a residence permit.

Another option is to apply for a VLT-TS, which is effectively a visa and permit rolled into one. With a VLS-TS, you will not need to apply for a residence permit for your first year of residence. There are several types of VLS-TS visas, including for employees, research scientists, students, intra-company transferees, and those who are eligible for the French Talent Passport scheme. To apply for a VLS-TS, you will need to submit an application in your home country.

If you plan to work in France, you will need to secure a job before you arrive. Your employer will then need to request permission from the foreign labour section of the DIRECCTE (Regional directorate for enterprises, competition, consumption, work, and employment) to recruit you. Long stay visas are available for a range of purposes, including business/self-employment, education, and joining existing family members in France.

The French government provides a website form that prospective migrants can complete, which advises if a visa is needed, and if so, the type of visa they should apply for.

To apply for a visa, you will need to:

  1. Complete the relevant online application form
  2. Pay the relevant application fee
  3. Book an appointment with your local French visa application centre
  4. Attend your appointment, bringing all of the documentation required with you
  5. Wait for your visa application to be processed

For more information on whether you need a visa and how to apply for one, speak to an immigration lawyer or review the official French visa website, which explains the visa options and process.

Register With The French Authorities Within Three Months Of Arrival

Assuming you have been issued with a long-term visa, you will need to visit your local French Office for Immigration and Integration (Office Français de l‘Immigration et de l’Intégration- OFII) within three months of arriving in the country to formally register your residence. As part of the registration process, you will be interviewed and may have to have a medical. Once you have your long-stay residence permit, you will be asked to sign a Republican Integration Contract. As the OFII guidance states, “By signing this contract, you are committed to respecting the principles and values of the French society and the French Republic. You will follow the required training courses seriously and on a regular basis”. As part of the integration process, you will be offered assistance with integration in France, including language skills and civic training. If you abide by the contract, you may then be issued with a multi-year residence card.

You Will Need To Secure Health Insurance In France

While the French medical system is world-class, you will need to apply to join a French health insurance scheme to access it. You can apply for private medical cover or request to join the government’s own insurer, l’Assurance Maladie, once you have been in the country for three months or more. To register for l’Assurance Maladie, you will need to complete the online application form and submit this with your supporting documents, including copies of your passport, visa, and birth certificate, and proof you have been in France for at least three months. This will then need to be sent to CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie). You will be given a numero de sécurité sociale which will uniquely identify you as eligible to use the French healthcare system and issued with a Carte Vitale, a card with a chip that will allow you to access healthcare services.

You will also need to find a local doctor who you can register with and will oversee your medical care.

Other Considerations

We recommend opening a bank account when you arrive in France; this is often required in order to allow you to pay rent and to receive wages. It may also be possible to apply for a bank account in France before you leave your home country, meaning that you have one less thing to think about on arrival. If applying at a bank in France, take your passport, French residence permit, and proof of your address.

If you have children, you will typically be restricted as to where they can go to school based on where you live. It is worth asking local schools about their catchment area before committing to a property in which you will be living.

Final Words

Remember, if you need guidance with any aspect of moving to France, there is a wide range of help available. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as this is the only way you will be able to establish yourself and your family in France. We wish you all the very best with your move.

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