The Complete Guide to Moving to Paris (for EU citizens)
Have you been dreaming of moving to Paris? This French capital is world-renowned as the city of lights and city of love with an enviable culture full of art, history, and amazing food. The French lifestyle appears chic and effortless; shaped over hundreds of years and maintained through their excellent education system and common societal values. It’s no wonder why so many people dream of moving to Paris!
If you’re wondering how to move to Paris, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you out! It may seem like a lot of admin, but we’ve outlined all the steps for you to make it easier. We can even help you find an apartment in Paris. So, don’t worry you will be sipping wine and eating croissants in no time. You will be in good company too, each year France welcomes over 100,000 people from all over the world!
If you’re looking for a guide about how to move to France, and are considering another French city, this can help you too! The steps are the same, you will just need to submit some documents to different government office locations, directories are linked.
This guide covers:
1. The initial steps
6. Mobile carriers
Part 1: The initial steps
So you’re taking the leap and moving to Paris! Best. Choice. Ever. Let’s dive in and go over everything you need to move to France. These are the important first steps to make your journey towards a new life in Paris smooth!
1. The prerequisites
If you’re not a citizen of an EU/EEA country you will need a valid visa to live in Paris. We’re working on a guide for non-EU citizens and will post it as soon as possible. Once you do have a visa, the steps in this guide should help you!
🏢 Get a signed employment contract
A signed employment contract is typically the starting point for a move to Paris. However, this is up to you, if you’re an EU/EEA citizen, you don’t need to have a signed employment contract to move to Paris. Though it is certainly advisable to make the process smoother and faster since employers kick it off in most cases.
🏡 Get a valid long-term rental contract
Housing is a top priority when making a move. In addition to having a home, securing housing means you will have an official address and can start registering for things like bank accounts, healthcare, and other necessities.
How to find an apartment with a long-term rental contract in Copenhagen?
The housing market is notoriously challenging, not only is it competitive, but many landlords need extensive documentation and require guarantors. In Paris, apartments can be even trickier to secure if you’re unfamiliar with the city and don’t speak French. Luckily we have some resources for you! These are popular websites for finding rooms and apartments for rent in Paris:
If you're looking for an apartment in Paris, you might find LifeX coliving homes to be a great fit in terms of convenience and flexibility! You can find more about the LifeX community and see our available Paris apartments on our homepage.
2. Open a French bank account
We recommend you start opening a bank account in France as soon as you can. As a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you have the right to a French bank account. You don’t need to have a residence in France to start the process; though once you do, you will likely have access to better account deals. Having a French bank account will help you get settled and do regular things such as paying for a gym membership, a phone plan, and setting up automatic withdrawals for rent and paying bills. Aside from bills, there’s lots to see and do in Paris, plenty of opportunities to enjoy spending your hard-earned cash once you have your banking figured out!
💡 When setting up your bank account, ask your banking advisor about getting your bank details in the form of a ‘RIB document’ (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire - RIB). This document is often required for setting up direct debits, like automatic monthly bill payments. Normally, it can be downloaded through your online banking account.
How to open a French bank account?
- "Normal banks"
There are lots of banks to choose from like LCL and Caisse d’Eparnge, some offer services in English such as HSBC, BNP Paribas, and Britline. We suggest booking an appointment with a financial advisor at a few different banks and seeing which bank best suits you. Make sure you take your passport/ID and proof of your residence/address to your appointment in case they need you to fill in any paperwork!
- Modern online banks
There are a number of new digital banks opening around the world and helping remove some of the struggles ex-pats face. Digital banks are typically aimed at young professionals, with apps full of helpful features, support through chat and email, and a smoother application process. We recommend you start by having a look at N26, Revolut, or Transferwise. With smoother application processes, opening an online bank account in France might help speed up your administration progress, and allow you to get settled even faster!
3. Register with the French Social Security System
Apply to the public health insurance fund, and for a Social Security number. Since you’re planning to work and live in France for the long term, you will need to complete a few processes. Applying to your local health insurance fund, commonly called CPAM (Caisses Primaires d'Assurance Maladie - CPAM) will kick it off! 🚀 It can take some time, so it’s best to get started as soon as you move to Paris. There is no formal deadline to complete this, but it’s extremely practical to start as soon as you arrive. It’s a multi-step process, but when it’s completed you will have:
- Coverage in the French healthcare system. By joining CPAM, the health insurance organization in France.
- A Social Security number (numéro de Sécurité Sociale). Meaning you’re administratively accounted for in the French government.
It can seem overwhelming but we’re here to walk you through it. Remember to have patience, as the French bureaucracy can be slow, all good things take time! If the process is running smoothly, you can expect it to take around 3 months.
🚨 This process is slightly different depending on your employment status in France 🚨
Check what fits your situation:
- I have a job in France. 👩💻
If you’re employed in France you can apply immediately starting from your first day of work, start the process from Step 1.
- I do not have a job (if you’re job-hunting, studying, retired). 🧑💼
If you’re not employed, you will need to be a resident of France for three months, before you can apply to CPAM and get a Social Security number. If you’re not coming as an employee, we advise you to check your status here. After you’ve lived in France for three months, you’re eligible to apply and should start this process from Step 2! At some steps, you will need to submit extra documents too, this guide will highlight them but pay close attention. If your status changes (for example if you get a job) during this waiting period, you become eligible to apply immediately after your first day of work 👍
Step 1: Make sure you’re ready to roll
Generally speaking your employer’s responsible for kick-starting this process for you. Confirm with your hiring manager/employer that they have submitted your pre-employment statement. Normally, they need to do this within 8 days of hiring you, so if that time has passed you can assume it has been done, but to ensure things go smoothly, it never hurts to check!
What is a pre-employment statement?
As soon as your hiring process is complete, your employer is legally required to register you as a new employee through a pre-employment statement (Déclaration Préalable à L’embauche - DPAE). They submit this registration to the Social Security Union (Unions de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d'Allocations Familiales - URSSAF). This registration process completes several functions for you (and your employer); the main reason this is important to you, is that it allows you to register for healthcare, your Social Security number, and other social services right away.
🤔 Interesting fact: Starting a new job in France? Expect a full medical check-up, this is part of the normal hiring process for everyone working in France! When your employer submits your DPAE you’re automatically enrolled for a medical check-up through your employer. Usually, this exam is arranged within the first three months of your job by your employer. So nothing for you to do until you’re informed about the appointment! For smaller companies, this is not always compulsory.
Step 2: Register for the French healthcare system
France’s healthcare system is among the best in the world! Register to your local health insurance fund by applying to CPAM to become part of it. Once registered, you will have a Social Security number and access to healthcare at a significantly reduced cost, as all French residents. In France, some choose to have private health insurance on top of the public coverage - you can decide on your own if that’s something you would like.
How to register with CPAM 💌
- Print and fill out a hard copy of this form - there is also an English version which they will accept.
- Gather the following documents and make printed copies
- Passport or ID card from an EU/EAA country
- Birth certificate (long-form or short-form), if it’s not in French, an official French translation is needed in most cases.
They do accept some other languages without translation but it’s dependent on the country of origin. Unfortunately, there is no list outlining the exceptions for the French translation. We suggest you: a) get an official translation completed (call your local French Embassy for a list of approved translators) or b) call CPAM to ask about your specific case and country of origin to find out if a translation is necessary. If you submit it without an official translation when it was needed, they will contact you for it, causing some delays. If you need this to be done quickly we recommend that you just get a translation made to avoid any delays.
- If employed, you need documentation of employment (like a contract or a payslip).
- If you’re not employed, you need to document the nature of your residence in France to show you’ve been there for at least three months according to the requirements on the form.
- Your main bank account IBAN number - to be used for reimbursements/ payments of your benefits.
💡 If you’re planning to live in France, it would be wise to connect this with your primary French bank account so you don’t need to change it later.
- Carefully review the form and documents, ensuring that you’ve met the requirements for your specific case.
- Once you have all these documents gathered, mail* them to your local CPAM office. If your living in Paris the CPAM address you need to mail this to is: Assurance Maladie de Paris, 75948 PARIS CEDEX 19. If you’re living elsewhere in France, check your address here to find out which CPAM office you should be mailing your application to.
*Please note: it’s also possible to submit your CPAM application in person at your local office, but you must phone ahead to make an appointment. The benefit of going in-person is that they can review the documents together with you, it can speed up the process if you can get an appointment within a good time frame. However, appointment times are limited due to COVID-19.
If you have any questions about your application to CPAM, we highly recommend calling the French health insurance advice hotline (available in English) at 0033 974 75 36 46. They are super helpful and quick to reach! You can also check out, Ameli, which is their website and platform for managing healthcare.
Step 3: Wait to hear back from CPAM with your Social Security number
So you’ve submitted your application to CPAM to join the healthcare system and get registered with the French government, now what? You’re waiting for your Social Security number from CPAM and getting closer to completing the process.
What is a Social Security number (numéro de Sécurité Sociale)?
CPAM will assign you a national membership registry number, commonly referred to as a Social Security number. This number will remain with you for your lifetime and all future endeavours in France. This is an essential identification number used to access and manage most government-related systems (healthcare, employment, pension etc.)
You can expect a bit of a wait, but generally, within a few weeks, you will receive a temporary Social Security number in the mail. Once you have your temporary Social Security number you can use the public healthcare services with coverage as a resident. If you’re already working, you’re covered from day one of your job in most cases.
However, this is not your permanent ‘Social Security number’ you will need to wait 2-3 months for that. Wait times vary a lot so do keep track of your temporary number and don’t hesitate to call them and check in on your application status.
Note: You will only get a new Social Security Number if it’s your first time living/working in France and you’ve never had one before. If you already had one from another period living in France, you can continue using your original number.
💡 If you’re working, you can find your Social Security number on your first Paycheck in France. You will still need to complete this process but it will be faster as employers jump-start enrollment when they hire you.
Step 4: Create an Ameli account
Finally, the day comes that you receive your permanent Social Security number in the mail from your local CPAM office! Almost time to celebrate 🎉 but before you do that, just a few more things to tidy up.
You will need your French Social Security number to make this account. The good news is, this can be done online! Simply visit www.ameli.fr and open an account here. You only need to fill out a short form and enter your Social Security number then you can activate your Ameli account for the first time!
If you have any trouble opening your Ameli account, call their hotline (available in English) at 0033 974 75 36 46.
What is Ameli?
Ameli is the French government’s healthcare website, you will need to access this platform to manage your medical reimbursements and other administrative tasks related to your healthcare.
Step 5: Order your Vitale Card (la Carte Vitale)
Log on to your Ameli account and click ‘Order my Carte Vitale’ and complete the form! It will arrive by mail. The card is green and yellow with your name, photo, and Social Security number on it. The card streamlines the healthcare coverage process and makes it much easier; though you are covered as soon as you get your temporary number from CPAM.
What is the Vitale Card?
The Vitale Card is your access card to the French Healthcare system. You should bring it with you to swipe at all medical appointments so that you can be easily and quickly reimbursed for the costs that are covered by your local health insurance fund.
💡While on your Ameli account, apply for your French European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). In French it’s called the Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie (CEAM). This will provide you with healthcare coverage when travelling within the EU, read more about the EHIC here (including detailed instructions on how to get an EHIC card).
Part 4: Apply For Your French Tax Number (Numéro Fiscal)
If you’re a full-time resident in France, you will need to file taxes there. But hey, you’re living in a country with one of the best social security systems 💪 If you have an employer, taxes should be deducted automatically from your salary - as you’ve probably noticed on your payslips. However, you will still need to declare your income at the end of the French fiscal year to make sure your tax deductions were correct. In France, the fiscal year runs with the calendar year and the deadline for filing returns is in May. Good news, it can all be completed online on the French Tax Authorities website and this is pretty much the final step in your move to France (unless you count learning French - that could take some time 😉)!
The first time you file your taxes in France, you will need to get a Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Numéro Fiscal as they call it in France. Your TIN will allow you to create an online account with the tax authorities where you can file your taxes, and make payments (if needed).
How to get a french tax number
This is only available in French so use Google Translate to help if needed.
- Complete this online form and select the following options:
Vous êtes: ‘Particulier’
Votre demande concerne: ‘L'accès à votre espace particulier’
Au sujet de: ‘Je n'ai pas de numéro fiscal’
- A box should pop up at the bottom of the page which gives you information and three options to request your TIN (in person, by letter, or through their online form). We recommend their online form. Click the last option: ‘Par courriel après avoir rempli le formulaire: Accès au formulaire.’
- Fill out the online form and click ‘Continuer’ at the bottom.
- A box should pop up with some important information. There should be an email address for the Public Finance Center serving your area - copy that email address and save it. And a link to a form, called 2043-SD, download this form.
- Fill out the 2043-SD form for the current year (here is a helpful English translation) and make a digital copy of your ID/Passport. Email these documents to the email address (from step 4 👆) for the Public Finance Center serving your area. They should respond by email with your TIN and first-time setup access code.
- Using your TIN and access code, create your personal account on the French Tax Authorities website 🎉 Set up your account as soon as you get the mail as the access code does expire over time. Now you have a TIN and your account ready to go for tax season!
If you have any issues you can visit their website and call their English hotline +33 1 72 95 20 42 - it starts in French so hold for options in English.
Part 5: (Optional) Apply For Your French Residence Permit Card (Carte de Séjour)
France is currently the only EU country that does not require EU citizens to register upon permanently moving to France and becoming a legal resident. All other EU countries require registration during the first 3 months to form a legal residency. As a citizen of an EU country, this step is optional, it’s up to you to decide if you would like to acquire a French Residency Card (Carte de Séjour.)
If you’re not from an EU/EEA country and are wondering how to move to Paris, you will need to start by applying for a visa and/or residence permit for France. You can read about the options here; common types of residence permits are for working, studying, or reuniting with family in France.
As a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you can move to Paris and apply for a residence card without needing a visa. If you’re moving as a student, or without employment, the government can ask you to prove you have health insurance and sufficient financial resources in order to be granted a residency card - you can read more about that here.
You can apply for a French residence permit card at no cost if you would like one. After five years of living in France, you will be eligible to get permanent residency, meaning you would no longer need to justify the conditions of your stay.
How to apply for a residence permit card in France:
If you’re moving to Paris for employment and you would like to get a residency permit card, you will need to gather the following documents:
- Valid government ID card or passport
- Proof of your home address
- 3 recent passport photos
- Proof of health insurance
- Employment certificate from your employer
If you’re moving to Paris without employment, you will need a few more documents depending on your situation, find them here.
Once you have these documents you will need to submit them to the prefecture assigned to your home address. In Paris you will need to visit a department of the Préfecture de police de Paris (Paris Police Prefecture), called Centres de Réception des Étrangers (CRE) (Foreign Reception Centres). In Paris, there are two locations, and you should visit the one which is assigned to the arrondissement you live in. You can find out which one to visit here.
Part 2: Culture
Give yourself a high five, you’ve made it through the heavy part! You should be all set to move to Paris and start your new French life! ✨
In the following sections, we'll try to highlight some interesting tidbits about everyday life in the French capital. We'll go through everything from culture to healthcare and transportation. Let's dive in!
Paris is home to 2.2 million people (20% are international), with a history so rich and extensive you could spend a lifetime reading about this one city! Paris proudly carries it’s history forward through museums and art, but perhaps most notably through Parisian values and lifestyle. A lifestyle that appears effortless and well balanced, valuing joyful moments or ‘joie de vivre’ instead of getting caught up in the daily grind. Experience all that the city has to offer and let us know if you find life in Paris to be as effortless as it looks! Whether you’re inspired by Emily in Paris or Midnight in Paris, you will be sure to enjoy the Parisian life!
As you know, French is the official language of France. If you can’t speak French, we would advise you to start learning it! In Paris, many people can speak English, but if you want to live there in the long term, learning some conversational French will make life a lot easier and more enjoyable! It’s also quite important for your career prospects in most industries. A little bit goes a long way, and your French doesn’t need to be perfect to open doors for you and help you feel more settled.
- Work-Life Balance
France has some of the best labour laws in the world, it also has the shortest work week, at 35 hours. There is a big emphasis on disconnecting from work when you’re home. However, this varies a lot from urban to rural areas, and from one organization to another; if you’re living in Paris you may still be working longer hours, but in general, productivity is highly valued! Employees can also expect five weeks of holiday, in addition to public holidays to unwind.
- Déjeuner (Lunch)
Lunch is an important meal in France, not something to be rushed through. Outside of cities, don’t be surprised if shops are closed between 12-14 so employees can enjoy lunch. Try going to a bistro and taking in the experience yourself. Taking a two-hour lunch is less common in bigger cities, like Paris, but it’s still an important time to socialise, don’t eat your lunch while working at your desk!
- Parisian Café Culture
If you move to Paris, you will quickly notice how important cafés are to Parisian life. Cafés have been the long standing social hub of neighbourhoods, a tradition dating back to the 17th century. You can find Parisians of all ages gathering there all throughout the day. It’s much more than a traditional coffee shop, they generally offer full restaurant menus and drinks, making it easy to spend hours socialising and people watching.
- Events & Activities
There is always lots to see and do in Paris, here are some great resources! For news, events, and activities going on within Paris Sortir a Paris is a great source, available in English and French. Another great source is Le Bonbon, however, it’s only in French. If you’re looking for French news in English, The Local is a great source. Additionally, there are tons of great Facebook groups for finding other people in the city with the same interests or background as you. For example, if you’re new to France you might want to join this Expats in France group.
Part 3: Climate
The weather in Paris varies quite a bit over the year, you can expect to experience all four seasons! On a day-to-day basis, the weather is fairly unpredictable and can change quickly over a day. So it never hurts to bring an umbrella or extra layer in the cooler seasons.
Paris has comfortable weather in the summertime and cold, but not frigid winters. In the summer (mid-June to mid-September) you can expect temperatures to range from 15° to 25°, higher than 31° would be rare. In the winter (mid-November to late-February) you can expect temperatures to be between 2° to 10°.
There are always things going on in Paris, even when the weather isn’t ideal. A good example of this is the Parisian cafe culture which persists year-round. Even on the coldest day of the year, you can find a cosy cafe patio to relax on!
Part 4: Healthcare
The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world. And as a French resident, you will have coverage and easy access to it. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health administers public healthcare, it’s a strong system and covers 75% of medical expenses in France. Here are a few things to know:
- French Health Insurance:
As a resident, you will have access to public health insurance once you’ve registered with your local CPAM office (as covered in Part 3). The coverage is extensive, check-ups, specialist visits, dental care, hospital stays, medications, and more; generally, public health insurance covers between 70%-100% of the cost depending on patient income. Some people opt to have private health insurance to cover any additional costs.
- French Health Card (La Carte Vitale):
This microchipped card carries your administrative information and gives you simple access to healthcare reimbursements. You will need to apply for this (as covered in Part 3) and once you have it you should bring it to all healthcare appointments to ensure your reimbursements are simple. Normally you pay for your appointment, swipe your Vitale card, and log in to your Ameli account to get your reimbursement within a week.
- Finding a Doctor:
Residents that are part of the healthcare system in France can select a general doctor as their primary care physician. Pick one near your home or work to make life easier! It’s up to you to do this yourself, but it’s worthwhile to ensure that you have consistency in care and to avoid the stress of finding a doctor when you’re feeling unwell. You can find a doctor here.
- Dental care:
Dental care costs are generally lower in France than in most European countries. Routine dental care is partially covered by public health insurance as well. When you get into more extensive dental care (braces, surgeries) then the coverage is limited and costs may increase. So private dental insurance might be something to consider. The best way to find a dentist in France is the old fashion way of googling it or asking your friends and colleagues for their dentist’s info.
- EU-wide healthcare coverage:
As an EU citizen, you are entitled to medical treatment if you unexpectedly fall ill during a temporary stay in another EU country. This is a healthcare card that covers you for short visits to other EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland. You should apply for a French-issued European Health Insurance Card once you move to France. You can apply online for free on your Ameli account (as covered in Part 3).
Part 5: Transportation
There are lots of transportation options in Paris, and public transit is pretty efficient and affordable! Driving is an option, of course, but Paris is notoriously congested so driving can be slow and tedious, something most try to avoid. Meaning that public transit the favoured choice among Parisians, second only to strolling on the beautiful streets.
- Public Transit:
The transit system is operated by a public transport operator called Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP). You can travel by bus, RER trains, tram, and the underground metro all within the RATP system, so you only need to purchase one ticket for a multi-transfer journey within the city. The Parisian metro system is advanced and extensive, with over 300 stations, easily spotted by their iconic iron art-nouveau entrances. If you will be using public transit often, consider purchasing a Navigo pass which will give you better commuter rates. Once you know your route you can get around the city pretty quickly! Or grab an RER train for a weekend escape ✌️
Biking can be a great way to get around and take in the beautiful scenery. Paris has recently become a much more bike-friendly city, due to drastic measures by the city to decrease car traffic and build more bike lanes. Try it out by subscribing to the city's bike-sharing service Velib.
Part 6: Mobile carriers
There are lots of mobile phone providers to choose from with most offering contracts and prepaid options. Paris does not have a lot of free public wifi available so make sure to get a good data plan! Most phone networks have similar quality coverage, so it’s mainly about finding the plan that fits your needs. If you’re moving from within the EU you should be able to use your current phone plan, at no additional cost, for some time while you get set up in Paris - check it out with your provider before leaving!
- Prepaid phone carriers:
The perfect ‘pay-as-you-go’ option. These plans typically don’t require any paperwork. You can purchase them and top-up your account online or in stores such as kiosks, gas stations, and most supermarkets. The four main providers are Orange, Free, SFR, and Bouygues Telecome.
- Contract phone carriers:
Once you have your French bank account, you can consider getting a contract from one of the following providers: Orange, Free, SFR, and Bouygues Telecome. You will likely need your French bank details (RIB document), address, and ID to set up a contract phone plan.
- Must-have "local" apps:
After you move to Paris, a few apps can help you out a lot! Citymapper is an amazing app to help plot out your journeys around Paris. With all the amazing food, you will also want to be sure to have a good food delivery app for the days you want to dine from home, Deliveroo and Ubereats are the most popular. Lastly, when it comes to feeling like a local, Google Translate and Duolingo will help boost your French skills if you need some help.
We hope this guide helped you figure out how to move to Paris! Have any updates or feedback to share about this guide? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.