Integration to France : Your Frustration-Free Guide

Integration to France : Your Frustration-Free Guide

There are many things that can make your first year in France the best experience, but paperwork is rarely one of them.   To make this easier, here are some Top Tips.

By Tracy Leonetti

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My dream of moving to a foreign country began at the ripe old age of 8.   I spent my early years day dreaming of where I wanted to live, and France was often top of my list.

It’s a beautiful country, the language is romantic. It's well-known for the delicious food, the arts, La Tour de France and the wine is to die for… But it’s also renowned for its difficult bureaucracy. Over the years I’ve learned that the only way to deal with this is to be PREPARED!

Your Paperwork - Make a List: This is the most important point, get your paperwork footprints ready.  Round up all your documents now, they will all be needed. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, tax returns, driving license, medical files, insurance policies, international health cards, work contracts, salary slips, financial resources, retirement notifications, vaccination information for your children, and more …….

Banking: It can prove very difficult to set up utilities, pay your tax, get insurance, set up a business, get your healthcare organised if you don’t have a French bank account.  You will need your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) for these processes.    Nowadays there are many online banking options that can be easier to set up. Proof of address in France, your ID, your tax number are essential.   Note:  going overdrawn in France is not tolerated, so you should negotiate an overdraft facility at the start.

Health Cover - Be proactive:  Health cover in France is very good but obtaining the Carte Vitale can be complex.   Don’t wait!   Salaried people, business owners, retirees, and even inactive people have the right to request a social security number after living in France for 3 months.   Contact them on 3646 or visit  to get the application forms and list of documents required.

Learn the Lingo  if you really want to integrate. There are many fun ways to learn this fantastic language. Group or private lessons, exchanges with French people who want to learn English. French clubs & associations or get active in your local community. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Visas & Cartes de Séjour  -  Plan Ahead: The immigration process is about paperwork footprints, so start working on getting those in place.   For those worried about Brexit (I know there are many), if you are already living in France before 31st  December 2020, you will have until 30th  June 2021 to apply for your residency permit, so you still have time to get those footprints in place.   The online applications website will become available from 1st  October 2020 due to delays.   Take your time to put your file together, ready for uploading at the right time.


Whatever the stage of your integration in France, enjoy the process and you could even use it to practice your French language skills.

Author: Tracy Leonetti is the founder of LBS Relocation Services created in 2012.  The aim of LBS is to help their clients navigate the French administration system to ensure a smooth transition.

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