How to benefit from French healthcare?

You are coming to France for work, and you are wondering if you can benefit from French healthcare? YES, you can; and from your first day of work! However, it is not automatic.
Here is the step-by-step process to make the bureaucracy easier for you.

The French public social security is called CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie). It provides reimbursement to medical care and medicines under specific conditions.
As a foreigner, you may be entitled to it. The 2 main ways to access French health care is first when working in France with a French work contract or as a self-employed under a French registered company. You will be contributing to the social security system through the social charges deducted from your payslip. The second way is when justifying a stable long term residence in France (from 3 months duration).

NOTE: This article only applies to individuals under a working contract and their families. You will find more information in this article if you are an inactive adult in France.

French healthcare

Prepare your documents to register for French healthcare

An important rule that applies to most of the administrative processes you may undertake:
Never send original documents! Only send copies.

Documents for you:

  • A copy of your ID: passport or national identity card
  • Full French bank account details in your name (called RIB in French)
  • A copy of your work contract or your first payslip (see Insider tip 1)
  • Your birth certificate (see INSIDER TIP 2). The certificate must mention:

o Your Date and place of birth
o Your gender
o Your father’s and mother’s name

o If you are a tenant: an energy bill such as electricity, gas, water, landline phone, Internet. CAREFUL: the mobile phone bill is usually not accepted.
o If you are staying at a hotel or a residence: proof of residence + receipt for the previous month rent.
o If you are being hosted: a hand-written certificate of residence signed by your host + your host last energy bill + a copy of your host’s proof of identity

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If you signed your work contract on your first day of work, the contract copy will be sufficient to request the affiliation. However, if you signed it BEFORE your first day, you will have to wait for your first payslip before being able to submit your healthcare affiliation file to CPAM. The CPAM wants to make sure you have started work.


Depending on which language your birth certificate is written you may be required to provide a translation done by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal. The French Assurance Maladie no longer requires to have the birth certificate authenticated or stamped with an “apostille”, as long as a readable official stamp appears on your certificate.

Only birth certificates in French, Albanian, German, English, Danish, Croatian, Spanish, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Czech and Turkish are accepted by the French Social Security without translation.
Birth certificates in any other languages must be translated into French by a sworn translator approved by a French Court of Appeal.

Fill in the form S1106

Good news, the CPAM has recently provided a form in English that can be filled in and sent as it is to your local CPAM with the above backup documents!

Where to send it?

You will find the address of your local CPAM on the CPAM website called Ameli by providing your French residence address postcode.
I strongly advise you to send it by postal mail. A centralised department will receive it. If you bring it in person to your local CPAM office mailbox, it can take about 3 weeks to reach the appropriate department!

You will send your first reimbursement claims to the same address.

Be patient

It can take about 2-3 months to receive your health insurance card (Carte Vitale)… If you are lucky it can be faster, it depends on the region you apply for it.

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What to do while waiting for your Carte Vitale?

Feuille de soin

In the meantime, you can still go to the doctor and keep the receipts (called Feuille de soins) together with the corresponding prescription. Once you have been provided with a social security number, you will have to fill in the top sections of the Feuille de soins and don’t forget to sign it. This is a common oversight that will delay the reimbursement.

1. Your first name and last name – Prénom et nom
2. Your 15 digit-social security number – Mon N° d’immatriculation à 15 chiffres de Sécurité sociale
3. Your date of birth (day/month/year) – Date de naissance
4. Your address in France – Adresse
5. Don’t forget to sign it on the bottom right-hand side section!

CPAM can reimburse medical expenses for the past 2 years maximum.

I have under-age children. Can they benefit from my health coverage in France?

Your children under 18 are eligible for universal health coverage under your French social security scheme. You must register them when you register yourself.

Documents for every child should be sent in the same envelope as your affiliation request:

Your spouse and adult children can apply to French National Social Security only after three months of residence in France if they are not working in France.
Every individual over the age of 18 must register individually. Each one will receive their social security number and Carte Vitale.

  • Copy of passport or national identity card
  • For none-EU citizens: residence permits for each family member.
  • Form S1106 in English to apply for health insurance from the social security scheme
  • Birth certificates for each family member (see INSIDER TIP 2)
  • Your marriage certificate translated into French if necessary
  • French Bank account details (RIB) under the same name as the insured person.

If they are EU nationals, they will need to provide supporting documents certifying they do not have health coverage in another European country in addition to the below documents:

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o Lease or rental contract, successive rental payment receipts, Electricity/water/phone bills, hotel bills for the past three months, etc.

o Proof of address less than three months old including the spouse name

How to use your Carte Vitale?

Carte vitale

Every time you go to the doctor, you need to provide it.
The CPAM will have the information on the doctor’s rate, and you will automatically receive the relevant reimbursement amount on the bank account you have provided the details.
This means that you always have to pay the doctor at the end of the consultation. It will prevent you from sending paper documents as explained above.

Congratulations! You have finalized this first long process! You are now covered by the French healthcare system!

I hope this article helped you understand the French healthcare system a bit better. Follow me on Facebook @ExpatInFrance not to miss my next articles.

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How to benefit from French healthcare?

Healthcare FAQ

  • How to sign up to the French healthcare?

    If you have a French work contract or a French registered company you are covered from your first day of work but it is not automatic. You will need to send the affiliation request form and the requested back-up documents for every family members.

  • Can expats benefit from French healthcare?

    Yes, foreigners can access to the French health coverage. You will need to reside in France for a minimum of 6 months per year and submit your application with the relevant documents matching your situation. The requirements will be different whether you have a job in France or are inactive.

  • Can my children be covered via my healthcare affiliation?

    Yes, your under-aged children can be covered under your affiliation. You will need to fill in the affiliation request from for minors and add it to your own affiliation request with the relevant back-up documents.

  • Once I receive my Carte Vitale, can I use it to pay for the doctor?

    No, the Carte Vitale is not a payment card. You will need to provide it at the doctor's or the pharmacies' and the Assurance Maladie will be informed about your payment and will reimbursed the relevant amount directly to your bank account.

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