Moving to France – 10 step guide
If you move to France, you will have the opportunity to look around the largest Western European country. Eventually, everyone can find something in France, because the country is really beautiful both in the summer and in the winter. You may admire attractive small towns and beautiful villages in France, though finding a job is maybe a bit harder than in big townslike in the capital of France, in Paris, or in Nice, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Nantes etc. If you are planning to live in the coast of France, then you will be able to spend your spare time at the wonderful seaside.
In addition, you can enjoy shopping and you can enjoy typical French dishes, various cheeses and drink delicious wines.
Step 1: VISA
Before moving to France you’d better to get some information about visa obligation, since not to be surprised.
So, nationals of EU Member States, the EEA or Switzerland are not subject to the entry and stay visa requirement. As a rule, unless you are exempt, you are required to have a visa.
If you realised that you need a visa, then as a next step, you can apply for it from the French embassy or consulate in your country where you reside.
Let’s just see again accurately what you will have to know about a visa in case you are moving to France. You do not need neither entry visa, French residence permit (carte de séjour) nor work permit (autorisation de travail) if you are a citizen of:
- a European Union (EU) country,
- A European Economic Area (EEA) country, including: Iceland, Lichtenstein or Norway,
- Switzerland, Monaco or Andorra.
Step 2: Accommodation
If you are renting in France, be very careful because in France the rental is nearly always proposed unfurnished.
There are two ways of finding rentals; with help of estate agents (un agent immobilier) or direct from landlords (bailleur) or owners (propriétaire) which is cheaper.
So, before moving, you can start finding rents online, for example, there are two websites what could be useful:
- ParuVendu.fr (French only)
petites-annonces.fr (French only)
When you are in France, you can easily get information about rentals:
- in local newspapers,
- in estate agents’ windows,
- with signs outside the home
If you’re looking for a property in a rural area, an estate agent can help a lot, because many properties are not easy to find either in person or online. In urban areas, however, you are likely to be able to find a property on your own, although you will typically have to deal with an estate agent to sign the lease.
Step 3: TRANSPORT
Travelling by train in France is easier than you can ever imagine, since France has the best developed and fastest high-speed rail network in the world.
You will probably use this service most of the time during you’re travelling in the country, because the railways are the main form of intercity public transport in France. As for, French and European rail networks, they offer thousands of miles of modern high-speed tracks which will save you a lot of time.
If you are planning to travel by aeroplane in France, you can do it easily, because there are major airports in most French cities, since the five biggest French airports are: Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris Orly, Nice, Toulouse and Marseilles. Here is some information about French Airports and airlines by region, given here.
When thinking about driving a car in France, it is important to emphasise that you need to check if your driving license is valid in the country or not. If you are a driver from any other European Union country, then you do not need an International driving licence, however, you may need to show a passport or national identity card. An international driving license is a document you will need to obtain in your own country, before coming to France.
A driver with an EU-member state driver’s licence who takes up residence in France is not required to exchange the licence for a French one.
Here you can find detailed information about driving licence
To hire a car in France you must be at least 21 years old; some car-hire firms will not hire vehicles to drivers under 25. You must hold a valid driver’s license from your country of origin, and you must have held this licence for a year or more.
You will need to show this license when picking up your vehicle.
Step 4: WORKING
When you have decided to move to France you have to pay attention to conditions of work. It is vital to be aware of the fact that if you are from EU, EEA and Switzerland then you are free to work in France without needing a work permit.
Foreign nationals from any country other than EU/EEA/Switzerland must hold both a valid work permit and residence permit (in the form of a long-stay visa, visa de long séjour) to be allowed employment in France. Furthermore, both must be obtained before arriving in France.
If you are planning to move to France, it would be useful to start searching for jobs online, there is a French website, which could be useful, of course there are many resources online which help you in job searching.
Afterwards, you will see if you could work as salaried or self-employed. You have to pay attention to as follows:
- Minimum requirements for an employee, you must have worked at least:
- 60 hours per month
- or 30 consecutive days
- or 120 hours in salaried employment during three consecutive calendar months
- or three months start date to finish date
- or 1200 hours in salaried employment during one calendar year (the latter will get you two years’ cover).
- Self-employed is less complicated because there is no minimum income so, in theory, you can register as an Enterprise Individuelle),earn no money and only pay your health care contributions, which are about EUR 1,300 a year and will enable you to obtain a carte vitale.
Step 5: OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT (official currency is euro)
When you arrive in France, you will see that payment is very simple there; you can pay by credit card, but as a resident you’ll need a French local bank account for your wages to be paid into and to gain many essential services which require your bank details as a guarantee of payment. There are many places you will be able to use a French cheque book which is a very frequent way of payment in France.
To open an account, you will need a passport or residence permit, proof of your home address in France and some written proof of earning.
Step 6: HEALTHCARE
If you are making the move to France from another EU country, and you were either previously affiliated with their social security system or are currently receiving a state pension from that country, you should contact the appropriate governing body to see which of their measures can assist you with joining the French system.
For instance, if you previously lived in the UK, you would contact the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK, and find out if you are eligible for an E106, which would give you cover in France for up to two years.
Then if, after this cover has expired, you are not yet at state retirement age and therefore eligible for cover via your EU state pension, it is possible that you might need to purchase private health care until you have either been a resident in France for at least five years or reached state retirement age. As you can imagine, costs will vary greatly due to age and circumstance, but you are unlikely to be looking at less than EUR 2,000 a year.
If you are not an EU national and you have no cover from another EU country, then it is likely that you will need a full health care policy. That is, unless the 3 month rule is fully applied or you are working, have reached state retirement age or have lived in France for over 5 years.
Step 7: TAXES
You must pay French taxes, called impots, if you become a resident of France.
Taxes are calculated yearly, according to your earnings from 1 January to 31 December.
You will use tax form called la declaration d’impôts which must be completed and sent to your local tax office by 28th February of every year. One you are recorded in the system, the form will be sent automatically to your home address each year.
If you are salaried, your employer will provide you with notification of your declarable income for the year concerned. If you are self-employed, you must be able to produce detailed accounts of your earnings.
Step 8: MOBILE TELEPHONE AND BROADBAND INTERNET SERVICE
Like the rest of Europe, France mobile service providers use a GSM network; all GSM-compatible phones should work here, but CDMA phones, used in North America and parts of Asia, won’t.
If you have a GSM phone and want to keep your current operator, you need a French telephone number to avoid international rates. Check with a telecom shop, found in any mall, to replace your SIM card and obtain a French number.
The contracts can be complicated and include hidden fees like connect fees, frais d’activation, and disconnect fees, frais de résiliation. Look for a contract sans engagement, that way, you can change providers if you’re not happy.
There are three big service providers. All have some information in English on their websites:
Again, you need to know whether your address is in a zone de dégroupage total or dégroupage partiel. If you’re in one of the limited remaining zones non-dégroupées, you can get ADSL service but not at the highest speeds.
If you live in a zone non-dégroupées or dégroupage partiel (most of France), you must also first set up a telephone service with France Télécom. You can then sign up with any vendor for ADSL or other digital services but be advised that it may take as long as several weeks to set up.
As with long-distance phone service, the number of competing operators and packages can be overwhelming and you should get any rate offers in writing. The major providers are:
If you would like to know more about these services you can visit the website given below:
Step 9: FAMILY AND KIDS
In France there are two options for you as a parent to send your children to both publicly and privately run nurseries, called crèches, as soon as the child is three months old.
French public nurseries and day-care centres, are mostly open 11 hours a day and close only for one month over the summer period, as well as on public holidays.
All French cities and towns offer this service but small, rural localities may have a limited number of places and in big cities, demand often outstrips availability.
Step 10: FRENCH EDUCATION SYSTEM
If you are planning to move to France and have children, it is good to know that schooling is free and mandatory from ages 6 to 16, although nearly all French children begin school by age four.
There are public schools with bilingual programmes, but in most cases, a bilingual education is only available in a private school.
In Paris and some other large cities, there are private American and British schools where the curriculum is equivalent to the country of origin.
However, if you would like to send you children into private school, there is a possibility likewise.
Private schools are either sous contrat, meaning under contract with the state whereby the government pays the teachers’ salaries and the school follows the national curriculum and schedule, or hors contrat whereby they are totally privately funded.
Private schools sous contrat demand a relatively modest tuition; tuitions at schools hors contrat are significantly higher and vary widely, although most fall in the EUR 1,500 to EUR 4,000 range.
How to register your child for school
If you want to send your child to a public school, contact the service des écoles at the mairie of your city or arrondissement. If your child is arriving from outside France and is entering collège or lycée, you will need to contact the educational district’s administrative head, the rectorat. See the list of académies on the Ministry of Education‘s website.
All foreign documents will need to be translated by an official translator, traducteur assermenté. You will be asked for the same documents for both public and private schools.