Moving to France

A comprehensive guide on relocating to France

With its rich culture and history, France is the ideal destination for many expats. However, there are many steps to moving to France that should be considered. We will take you through the requirements, so that you are well prepared for your adventure abroad.

Have you been wondering about how to move to France? This will require some planning and organization but will be worth the effort. Whether your destination is the bustling City of Lights or a quiet town nestled along the French Riviera, there are some key things to know before moving.

Did you know there are four types of long-term visas for those planning to work in France? This guide will help you identify which type of visa and work permit you need and how to apply for it. Once that is in place, you will be able to register for social security in France and other state-run benefits such as education and healthcare.

All legal residents are entitled to join the public healthcare and schooling system. France has some of the best schools in the world, but parents hoping to send their children to an International school should apply early as admission is competitive.

Excellent healthcare, affordable education, and promising job satisfaction are just a few of the many benefits of moving to France. From how to relocate to France to navigating the tax system and housing markets, this guide will tell you what you need to know about moving to France.



There are many things to keep in mind while in the process of moving to France: Do you have the recommended vaccinations? Are you bringing a pet? How will you move your things there? Where can you store your belongings? How do you buy a car? These are all important questions to ask when planning your move. Having the answers beforehand will save you a big headache when you get to France.

To breeze through the customs process when you arrive, it is important to make sure you have the right paperwork for shipping household goods or importing your car to France. EU citizens will be able to do this duty-free as long as you can provide detailed records proving you have paid VAT on the items you are transporting. If you’re moving to France from outside the EU, you should expect to pay VAT and duty tax on all items. This process will require authorization before arrival and can take up to a month so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to take care of this before your move.

If you are moving to France with pets, make sure that they have proof of current rabies vaccination and microchipping. The regulations regarding pet immigration will depend on which country you are coming from and what type of animal you are bringing with you. Staffordshire terriers, Pitbulls, Mastiffs, and Tosas without pedigree are banned in France. Keep in mind that you may need to provide a pet passport or a non-commercial EU health certificate from a vet.

Your furry friends are not the only ones who need vaccinations in order to move to France. Be sure to consult a medical professional well in advance to ensure that you have all the vaccinations recommended for France including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, and Rabies. Some may need to be administered in multiple doses or within a particular timeframe so make sure you know what you will need well in advance.

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Visas & Work Permits

Wondering how to get a French visa or work permit? The process is straightforward but may be more difficult for some. EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens do not require a visa or work permit to move to France. If you are moving from outside the EU, you should start the visa application process before arriving in France. All foreigners are required to register their address with the local authorities regardless of which country they come from.

There are four types of long-term visas: vacation, student, employment, and family. Work visas for France are the most difficult to get, but our guide will help you through the process. The French visa application process costs can vary but generally cost around 269 EUR for an employed adult. Proof of sufficient funds will also be necessary for the visa application.

Depending on your visa type, you may also have to apply for a carte de séjour, which is the official residence card. This is the most common type of residence card for expats. If employment is your main purpose for being in France, a work permit will also be required for your stay. Your employer will need to apply for this on your behalf. Medical exams, cultural lessons, and language tests may also be required for those planning to reside in France more permanently.

Check out the visa and work permit guide to make sure you have everything you need to meet France’s visa requirements.

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Renting is the most common choice when it comes to accommodation in France. And if you decided not to move your household goods, we have good news: most houses and apartments that are for rent in France will be furnished. However, keep in mind that the furniture tends to be rather old. Unfurnished places in France provide greater legal protection and a longer minimum lease, typically three years.

France has a strong holiday rental market, which includes places that can be rented for up to three months. Housing in Paris can take several months to sort out so short-term rentals are a good starting point until you find more suitable accommodation. A few weeks should be enough time to find housing that meets your needs in other parts of France.

May to July is the best time of year for house hunting in France as many real estate agents are on vacation in August. September to October is not a good time to look for a place in a university town and the French housing market is also particularly slow around the Christmas season. If you decide to brave the housing market without a real estate agent, Se Loger, Logic-Immo, and A Vendre A Louer are good websites to kick off your search.

France’s strict tenant protection laws making it difficult evict tenants, landlords are incredibly choosy regarding whom they rent to. This means you need to show up to your accommodation interview with proof of identity, a home or liability insurance certificate, proof of current residence, proof of employment, financial resources, and your bank details.

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The healthcare system in France is one of the best in the world and all legal residents are eligible to join, regardless of employment status. However, it may take several months to meet the residency requirements, so plan to purchase a private policy to cover this gap. Once you are part of the French healthcare system, you will also be eligible for a European Health Insurance Card.

The hybrid system is paid for by both the state and the individual. You will have to pay upfront so do not forget your wallet. The state will later reimburse, on average, 70% of the cost. Prescribed medicine purchased from a pharmacy may also be eligible for 15-100% reimbursement from the state depending on how necessary it is. It is possible to purchase private health insurance in France to top-up your coverage. As of 2016, private companies are required to offer this insurance to employees.

Hospitals in France are equipped with modern technologies and facilities. They are categorized into general hospitals, local hospitals, and university hospitals. All medical costs during pregnancy are covered by France’s healthcare system. New moms are also guaranteed a minimum of eight weeks maternity leave in France.

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Banks & Taxes

Opening a bank account in France can be relatively easy thanks to the popularity of online-only banks. A non-resident bank account is the only option for expats in France who do not have residency. As a non-resident, you will not be eligible for a credit card or overdraft. Expats with residency will have a wider range of banking options available to them.

The best banks for opening a bank account in France include those with multiple branches throughout the country such as BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, Credit Mutuel, and La Banque Postale.

Most expats in France will be required to pay income tax. In France, 29% is the standard income tax rate for a single employee with average income and no children. The French VAT rate is similar to other European countries, which is at 20%. Our guide can help you master the ins and outs of France’s banking and tax system.

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The public education system in France is free and open to any child legally residing in the country. Private schools in France are also a popular option. The majority of private schools in France have a religious or bilingual base and tuition cost ranges from 400 to 5,000 EUR per year.

Parents wishing to send their children to an international school in France should apply early. Many of these schools offer internationally recognized certifications, providing for an easier transition if the students move again with their expat parents or decide to pursue higher education abroad. Tuition for international schools in France can cost up to 15,000 EUR per year.

The higher education system in France has some of the best universities in the world, a plus for expats with older children. Tuition fees at France’s 75 public universities are relatively low. Our guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about childcare, France’s education system as well as higher education in the country.

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Finding work in France can be a challenge if you are not prepared, but our guide will ensure you have all the necessary information. When applying for a job in France, it’s a good idea to send a translation of your CV in French and include a professional photo: this is different to countries where including a photo on a CV is forbidden.

French business culture tends to be more on the formal, conservative side with hierarchy being very important. If you are more interested in self-employment in France, you will have to set up a micro-enterprise to make sure that your income is recognized by the state.

You will need to register at the social security office in order to get your tax ID number. This will be required for working in France. Working conditions in France are strictly regulated by law, including a mandatory five weeks’ vacation time.

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Country Facts

While the cost of living in France is not cheap, it can vary greatly throughout the country. Living in Paris or Lyon will be more expensive than living in other parts of France, for example.

Expats will appreciate the excellent public transportation in France. Getting around the city and country is very easy by train or bus. There are also a lot of affordable connections to the rest of Europe from France, making international travel accessible and affordable. If you do choose to drive in France, it is important to make sure that you know the local traffic rules before setting out in your car. Check out our guide to know everything about daily life in France.

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InterNations GO!
by InterNations GO!
30 November 2018