Top Tips When Moving to France

Guest post by Tracy Leonetti. Language & Business Services

Don’t forget to bring all your paperwork: Birth certificates, marriage certificates, tax returns, driving license, medical files, insurance policies, social security cards. You will need these for the different processes in France. For some situations you will need a translated birth certificate. A list of legal translators can be found from the local Town Hall (Mairie).

Set up an International Banking Account: If you are buying in France, you will probably already have a French bank account. But if you are still in the process of looking it is good to find an international bank with online facilities where you can easily transfer from your home country to France. Don’t forget to inform your bank of your change of address.

Transfer your Health Cover: Health cover is not free in France! However, most European countries have an agreement with France and you can transfer your social contributions to France therefore covering you for health care from between 12-24 months (depending if your national insurance contributions are up to date in your home country). For the UK, you need to contact the Department of Work & Pensions.

If you are coming to work for a company in France, your company should do all the paperwork with the local CPAM to ensure health cover for you and your family, managed by Ameli. For more information from

If you are setting up your own business or thinking of becoming an auto-entrepreneur (sole trader), you will be entitled to health cover but this will be managed by the RSI (Régime Sociale des Independents). More information at

Claim Child Benefit: If you have 2 or more children and are a resident in France, you can claim child benefit in France. This benefit is not means tested at the moment and therefore is accessible to any resident. It can be a long process but child benefit is back dated up to two years for those who haven’t quite got round to putting their claim in yet. Before leaving, ask your local child benefit office for a letter certifying that you are no longer receiving child benefit for your children. You will need this for your application here in France. More information at

Your Driving License: If you are non-European, you have one year to transfer your license over to a French one. After that you will need to take the French driving license. Note: For non-Europeans, before you leave your home country, ask your local driving office to give you a letter stating that your rights to drive are not suspended or cancelled. You will need this for your driving license application at the Prefecture.

Since 1st July 1996, it is not an obligation for Europeans to change their driving license and you may continue to drive in France with your driving license. However France works on a points system and if you commit a driving offense where points would be taken from your license, it then becomes an obligation to change your driving license to a French one. Driving license changes are done at the prefecture.

Car Registrations & Insurance: If you are bringing a car over to France, you normally have one month to make the change to a French registration ‘certificat d’immatriculation’ but this can be pushed out to 6 months as this is when one is considered as resident. This process is taken care of the Prefecture and the cost can be a little expensive as there is an import tax plus a pollution tax. Before leaving your home country, ask the garage where you bought the car or the manufacturer for a ‘Certificate of Conformity’, this is a document stating that your vehicle conforms to French standards. You will need this document to change your car registration. More information at

Also check your car insurance policy as most only cover up to 3 months abroad and if you have an accident in France you may find yourself without cover.

Local Utilities: To prepare your move remember that for the electricity and gas (EDF/GDF) you will need to inform them at least 2 weeks before your move to ensure your electricity is switched on. There is a small cost for this. English website:

You should also think about getting your telephone line connected and what internet options you need. The main operators in France are Orange and SFR and provide telephone, internet and TV packages. This can take a few weeks so do some research before you move.

If you need help or advice with any of these processes, you can contact Tracy Leonetti on +33 (0)6 59 04 01 51 or check her website out on for more information. She can help your move to France be smooth and frustration free.