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Moving to France

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to France

With its rich culture and history, France is the ideal destination for many expats. But before making the big move, there are many steps to move to France that should be considered. This practical guide takes you through the requirements for moving to France so that you are well prepared for your adventure abroad.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Are you thinking about moving to France? Is it easy or hard to move to France? Well, this will depend on how much effort you put into preparation and planning. It will require some major organizing. This guide makes it easy for you by providing all the information you will need for your expat adventure.

Whether your chosen destination is the bustling City of Lights or a quiet town nestled along the French Riviera, this guide covers the key things to know when relocating to France. But what do you need to do in order to move to France? Well, for starters, did you know there are different 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.

Along with the public healthcare system, all legal residents are entitled to join the public schooling system as well. France has one of the best education systems in the world. These are just a few of the benefits of moving to France.

From relocating, housing, healthcare, banks and taxes, education, to working, and more, this practical guide provides all the information you need.



Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

There are many things to keep in mind during the process of moving to France. For example, your health. What are the vaccinations required for France? Are there any? And if you are relocating to France with pets, they will need their shots too. How will you be moving, shipping, and storing household goods to France? These are all critical questions to ask when planning your move. Having the answers beforehand will save you a big headache upon arrival.

To breeze through the customs process when you arrive, it is essential to make sure you have the right paperwork for any household goods you are shipping. 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 are 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 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 French visa application process is straightforward once you know precisely what visa you require and the documents you need. It can also be simpler for some expats of particular nationalities. EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens, for example, do not require a visa or work permit to move to France.

If you are moving from outside the EU, it is recommended you 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 upon arrival, if staying for an extended period of time.

There are several French visa types for long-term stays including employment and family visas. Our guide will help you through the conditions, requirements, and process of obtaining the right one for you and your loved ones.

Depending on your visa type, you may also have to apply for a carte de séjour, which is the official residence card. If employment is your primary 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 necessary for those planning to reside in France on a more permanent, long-term basis.

Check out the Visas and Work Permits section 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 there are many types of houses and apartments to choose from. If you decided not to move your household goods with you, it is possible to find furnished houses and apartments for rent in France. Furnished apartments tend to be rather old, and unfurnished places, which is also an option in France, provide greater legal protection and a longer minimum lease – typically three years. When it comes to housing in France, the average rent will depend on many factors including the region and city you choose to live in, the size of your space, and whether it is in the city center or not.

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.

France’s strict tenant protection laws make it difficult to evict tenants; therefore landlords are incredibly selective with regards to 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, a guarantor in some cases, proof of employment, and financial resources to better your chances.

If you are looking for something more permanent, some expats choose to eventually buy a home in France with average house prices depending greatly on the type of property you decide to buy and where.

When budgeting for household expenses and setting money aside for rent or buying your home, you must factor in a budget for utilities. Utilities in France generally include water, gas, electricity, and internet services.

For more information on utilities, how to rent a house in France, or how to buy a house in France for foreigners, check out our Housing section.

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The healthcare system in France is one of the best in the world, and all legal residents and non-residents are eligible to join, regardless of employment status. However, it may take several months to meet the residency requirements to benefit from the French healthcare system, so plan to purchase private health insurance in France 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. The state covers 70% of the cost on average. 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 buy private health insurance in France to top-up your coverage. As of 2016, private companies are required to offer this insurance to employees.

France’s hospitals are equipped with modern technologies and facilities. They are categorized into general hospitals, local hospitals, and university hospitals. If you are wondering how to find a doctor in France, it is relatively easy with the use of websites like Doctolib. If you happen to be expecting while in France, giving birth in France is an excellent option. All medical costs during pregnancy are covered by France’s healthcare system. New moms are also guaranteed a minimum of eight weeks of 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 and international banks. A non-resident bank account in France is available for expats who do not have residency, while expats with residency will have a broader range of banking options available to them.

The best banks in France include those with multiple branches throughout the country such as BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, Credit Mutuel, and La Banque Postale, among others. If you are under 26, the best bank account to open is a no-fee account which is sometimes available in some branches.

Most expats in France are required to pay income tax. France’s tax rate is 30% minimum on income for non-residents. The French VAT is 20%, which is above the OECD average but still below certain European nations, such as the Scandinavian countries. Our Banks and Taxes section 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 costs can be as low as 400 EUR (448 USD) per year. International schools in France would fall under this category.

Parents wishing to enroll their children into the international school system in France should apply early. Many of these schools offer internationally recognized certifications, providing for a smoother transition in case the students move again or decide to pursue higher education abroad. Keep in mind that tuition for international schools in France is a lot pricier.

The higher education system in France boasts some of the best schools in the world, a plus for expats with older children. Tuition fees at France’s 75 public universities are relatively low. Our Education section 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 ensures you have all the necessary information on how to get a job in France. For example, when applying for a job in France, it is a good idea to send a translation of your CV in French, and some choose to include a professional photo. The average salary in France is 2,998 EUR (3,359 USD) gross (or 2,250 EUR (2,521 USD) net) for a full-time, private sector employee. Once employed, you can look forward to France’s social security benefits which are among the highest in the EU.

When it comes to French business culture, it tends to be more on the formal and conservative side with an emphasis on hierarchy. 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. To do this, you will need to register at the social security office to get your tax ID number. This will be required for working in France. Working conditions in France are strictly regulated by law.

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Is it expensive to live in France? Well, unfortunately, the cost of living in France is not cheap, but it can vary significantly throughout the country. Living in Paris will be more expensive than living in other parts of France, for example.

One thing expats can appreciate, though, is 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 opt for driving in France, it is essential to make sure that you know the local traffic rules before setting out in your car. Check out our Living section to learn everything about daily life in France.

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Updated on: January 28, 2020
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