Update: December 2012:

French medical coverage is required for all foreigners residing in France.  It is essential for obtaining a French visa prior to moving to France and also for obtaining and for renewing French resident permits.

Employees and the self-employed:

Most usually French medical coverage is obtained by making contributions – as an employee or a self-employed person – into the French social security system.  Contributions must be made and a significant number of documents provided to obtain a French social security number in order to be able to claim reimbursement.

In an internal memorandum dated April 2012, the French social security authorities (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie or CPAM) have initiated very strict requirements for the legalization of documents birth and marriage certificates which should be submitted to obtain a French social security number.

European documents and certain documents from former French colonies need only be translated by an official translator in France (see www.ceticip.com for a list of official translators).

Documents which do not need to be legalized (but must be officially translated by a certified translator in France):

Algeria Croatia Macedonia Poland Tchad
Austria Denmark Madagascar Portugal Tchek Republic
Belgium Djibouti Mali Rumania Togo
Benin Egypt Morocca United Kingdom Tunisia
Bosnia Herzegovina Germany Mauritius Saint-Martin Turkey
Brazil Hungary Monaco Spain Vietnam
Ireland Montenegro Senegal
Burkina Faso Italy Niger Serbia
Cameroun Ivory Coast Macedonia Slovakia
Central African Republic Kiribati Madagascar Slovenia
Congo (Brazzaville) Lettonia Netherlands Switzerland

However, for non-Europeans, obtaining the legalized document can be complex, especially if you are already located in France.

Here is the list of birth and marriage documents which must be legalized (this can sometimes be done through your consulate in France but not always):

Afghanistan Ghana Naura Thailand
Angola Guatemala Nepal Turkmenistan
Saudi Arabia Nicaragua Sri Lanka
Bahrain Guinea Nigeria Tuvalu
Bangladesh Guinea Bissao Oman Uganda
Belau (Palau) Guyana Sierra Leone United Arab Emirates
Bhutan Haiti Singapore Uruguay
Myanmar Indonesia Somalia Uzbekistan
Bolivia Iran Sudan Yemen
Burundi Jordan Nicaragua Zambia
Cambodia Kenya Nigeria Zimbabwe
Canada Kirghististan Oman Tuvalu
Chili Kosovo Papua New Guinea Uruguay
China Kuweit Paraguay Yemen
Comores Laos Philippines Zambia
Congo (Republic) Lebanon Qatar Uruguay
Costa Rica Libya Rwanda Yemen
Cuba Mozambique Saint Siege (Vatican) Thailand
Equitorial Guinea Maldives Sri Lanka Zambia
Erthree Mexico Syria
Ethiopia Micronesia Tdjikistan
Gambia North Korea Taiwain

Apostilles to be obtained from local authorities which issued birth or marriage certificate:

Albania Brunei Grenada Malta Saint Vincent et les Grenadins
Andorra Cape-verde Honduras Marshall Islands Salvador
Antigua and Barbados Cyprus India Maurice Samoa Occidental
Argentina Columbia Iceland Mexico Sao-Tome-et-Principe
Armenia Dominican Republic Israel Moldavia South Africa
Australia Dominique Japan Mongolia South Korea
Azerbaidjan Equador Kazakhstan Nambia
Bahamas Estonia Lesotho Norway
Barbados Fiji Liberia New Zealand United States (from the issuing State)
Belize Finland Lichenstein Panama South Africa
Belarus Georgia Lithuania Peru
Botswana Greece Malawi Russia


Bilateral social security treaties.  Certain countries have bi-lateral treaties in France which allow an employee on assignment to continue to make social securitycontributions in his home country and exonerate him and  the French host company from French social security contributions for a determined period of time.  See Annexe “list of countries with bilateral agreement with France”).  Only a few of these countries, primarily the European countries, allow for reciprocal medical coverage in France. Private insurance must be taken for the assignee and his family during their stay in France.

For nationals of countries without a bilateral social security treaty, French social security contributions (employer and employee) must be made in France (even if the employee is being paid by his employer outside of France).  If the employee is being paid in France, social security contributions are made through the normal channel (the URSSAF – the French collecting agency).  If the employee is being paid by a foreign employer, social security contributions on his entire remuneration must be made to a special branch of the URSSAF (see URSSAF du Bas Rhin).

After 60 hours of contributing to the French social security system, workers and their beneficiaries residing habitually with them are covered by French social security.   However they cannot claim reimbursement for their medical expenses until the worker and his family are registered with the French medical coverage organisation – the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie – the CPAM.  Registering with the CPAM has become a complex procedure and can take several months (See notes on French medical coverage Annexe).


A prerequisite for obtaining a visa to move to France is proof of private medical coverage specifically covering France.  Only under exceptional circumstances can a foreigner arriving in France apply for French medical coverage available for all (at a cost of 8% of worldwide global income).  Most foreigners residing in France will prefer to continue to pay private medical coverage.

Self-employed people moving to France must go through a lengthy procedure to obtain resident permits and register with the French social security authorities

to begin to pay self-employed social security contributions – usually estimated to be approximately 35% of pre-tax profit).  These contributions cover health and retirement but do not French income tax (and there is no unemployment benefit for the self-employed).

                  Security treaties between France and other countries:

Country Length of exonerationYears Prolongation – to be confirmed Reciprocal medical coverage in France – to be confirmed Comments Eligibility of nationals of a third state Exoneration for the self-employed
European countries 2 4 Yes      
Transitional European countries (Bulgaria and Rumania) 3 No      
Algeria 3 2        
Andorra 1 1        
Benin 1 Agreement required        
Bosnia Herzegovina 3        
Cameroun 6 months        
Canada 3 Agreement required        
Cap Vert 3 Agreement required        
Chile 2 2 – agreement required        
Congo 1 Agreement required        
Korea 3 3 – agreement required        
Ivory Coast 2 Agreement required        
Croatia 3        
United States of America 5 Exceptional agreement required        
Gabon 2        
Guernsey, Aurigny, Herm, Jethou        
India 5 Agreement required   Only retirement exonerated!    
Israel 1 Agreement required        
Japan 5        
Jersey 6 months 6 months – agreement required        
Macedonia 3        
Madagascar 2        
Mali 2 1 – agreement required        
Morocco 3 3 – agreement required        
Mauritania 3        
Mayotte 6 months        
Monaco 6 months Agreement required        
Montenegro 3        
Nigeria 1 1 – agreement required        
New Caledonia 2 2 – with agreement        
Philippines 3 3 – with agreement        
Polynesia (French) 3 3 – with agreement        
Quebec 3 Agreement required        
Quebec (students and cooperation) Yes          
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 2        
Senegal 3 3 – with agreement        
Serbia 3        
Togo 3 Agreement required        
Tunisia 3 3 – with agreement        
Turkey 3 Agreement required        

Please refer to separate treaties and to local authorities for the information shown for confirmation of the secondment periods allowable and conditions for reimbursement of medical expenses.

Share →