Health care in France

Are expatriates eligible to health care in France? What are the relating formalities? Find out in this article.

By moving to France, you will probably have queries regarding the health care system. The French health system is world famous, envied by many countries, due to its Social Security system. In fact, the Social Security system is partly financed by compulsory contributions. Besides government and individual contributions, it also benefits from the 7.5% contributions made by employees and the 13.10% contributions made by employers.

The system provides basic coverage in case of illness, maternity, incapacity, death, occupational accidents and diseases, old age and for families. It applies to all residents in the country, whether or not they are working. However, some conditions apply.


Medical visits and treatments are refunded by the social security at a rate of 70%. The remaining 30% is the patient's responsibility. In the case of serious or long duration illnesses, 100% coverage is provided. Since a few years, many beneficiaries have also subscribed to private health insurance so as to benefit from the remaining 30% which they have to pay. 


All more than 16 years old persons, residing legally in France, must be in possession of a Carte Vitale and a Social Security number. They are therefore required to produce their card at any visit to the doctor, hospital, dentist, etc. This will ensure a rapid refund, without having to fill relating documents, sending these by post mail and wait for their processing. 


Nationals of the European Union and European Economic Area who are coming to work in France must subscribe with the French social security system. You must therefore take care of the following before traveling there:

  • obtain a E104 form from your current affiliating organization (certification regarding the aggregation of periods of insurance, employment or residence – sickness, maternity, paternity)
  • fill the form and produce it to the nearest health insurance office (Caisse d'Assurance Maladie Française) to your new place of residence in the country.

 Good to know:

Family members, known as Rights holders, are also entitled to coverage, whether or not they are residents in the country. If they remain residents of their home country, you are required to request for the S1 document (certificate for the registration of members of the family of the employed or self-employed) from the nearest health insurance office (Caisse d'Assurance Maladie Française) to your new place of residence in France. You then have to produce this form to the competent health insurance organization once you are in the country. 

Non-European nationals who are coming to work in France also have to subscribe with the French Social Security system. To be eligible, they must be legal residents in the country and contribute to the social security fund. In fact, employers are liable for the registration of their foreign employees to the Caisse primaire d’Assurance maladie (CPAM) by sending a declaration of employment within 8 days following the hiring date or start of employment. 

Expatriates may also subscribe to the CPAM on their own by contacting the nearest office to their place of residence. This applies to both employees (except for agricultural workers) and the unemployed. In the case of agricultural workers, they have to contact the Caisse de la Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA). Finally, independent workers (artisans, traders and liberal professionals) have to register at the Caisse du Régime Social des Indépendants (RSI).

In general, the following documents have to be produced:

  • a passport or identity card
  • a civil status document with filiation (bearing the names of the applicant's father and mother) stamped or legalized by the issuing country's authorities. 

You might find the relating formalities quite complicated, but you should be able to handle these with appropriate planning. You should just be patience and take some time to tackle the procedures. All the best!

 Useful links:

Social Security
Service-Public – Health insurance 
April International – Health insurance 
Ameli – Health Insurance 
Ameli – Information on registration of foreign nationals 
Registration of UE nationals 

HERVER contributor
Member since 28 July 2008
Évian, France
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