A Basic Overview

Health coverage is required for all people living in France. It is designed to cover you in case of health related expenses (doctor’s visit, medicine, hospitalization), which can be considerable.

Based on your personal situation (age, reason for being in France, employment contract, grants, length of your stay, etc.), the French social security system (commonly referred to as “la Sécu”) will be either:

  • Required
  • Possible but optional, with limited access for the first few months
  • Impossible, for all or part of your stay

If your situation makes it so that French Social Security is not required, you can or must be covered by other means for all or part of your stay, in which case:

  • Either you may remain affiliated with your health insurance provider in the country in which you are insured (check to make sure that they cover you in France) and, when applicable, start the process to be covered during your stay in France
  • Or you must sign up for private insurance in France or in your regular country of residence for all or part of your stay (for scholarship holders with Campus France, contact Campus France to learn more about your coverage possibilities)

You will find examples of the most common instances below. By no means should this replace a personalized analysis specific to your situation and, when applicable, to that of your family accompanying you.

Before taking any steps on your own, we recommend that you contact your acc&ss center or the establishment to which you are affiliated to ensure that you follow the appropriate procedure for your specific situation.

Do not forget to specify if your spouse and/or your children are or will be staying with you in France.

Regardless of whether it is required or optional, the registration process for French Social Security can take many months. It is recommended that you start the process as soon as possible, and sign up for a private insurance for the first few months of your stay in case of emergency.



If you apply for social security membership, the organization must be able to identify you in order to register and give you a social security number. Civil status documents (birth certificate in particular) are very important. In some cases, they will have to be legalized or apostilled. In some cases, they will also have to be translated into French by a sworn translator.


For the translation of Civil Status Documents:

  • If you are a citizen of an European Union member state, you must include a multilingual form (to be requested from the relevant administration in your country of origin) with your civil status documents. For example, in France, the form may be requested at City Hall.
  • If you are a citizen of a country outside of the European Union and your civil status documents are not drafted in French (only French or multilingual) by the relevant administration or directly by the consular post, your civil status documents must be translated into French by a registered translator.

How do I choose a translator?

If a translation is required for your visa application, you can ask the Consulate for the list of your country’s certified translators authorised by the French consular post.

For translations that will be used during administrative procedures in France (especially for affiliation with social security), it is advised that you choose a certified translator in France from the list of judicial experts with a French Court of Appeal (for Paris, you’ll find the list of certified translators at http://cetiecap.com/)

However, it is possible to have a document translated outside of France. In order for the translation of an official document by a certified translator of a foreign country to be recognized in France, the translator’s signature must be authenticated by the Consulate (otherwise, you can get them apostilled, which is a simplified authentication procedure). In certain instances, the certified translator must also be authorized by the French consular post. For more information, you can contact either the French Consulate or your acc&ss centre.

Access to Social Security

You are a PhD student enrolled in a French institution, with a student card, and you are not an employee (doctoral contract, CIFRE contract, etc.): you benefit from social security, free of charge. To find out how to register, please read the section students and social security

You are a doctoral student in cotutelle : it will depend on your cotutelle agreement and the length of your stay in France. If the duration of your stay in France is less than 3 months long, you will not have access to the French social security.

You are a salaried PhD student in France (you have a doctoral contract, a CIFRE convention…): you will be registered for social security on professional criteria. Please read the procedure to follow on the section researchers and social security and start your application process as soon as possible. If you are a non-European doctoral student and have a “talent passport – researcher” visa/residence permit as a result of a contract in France (doctoral contract, CIFRE, etc.), refer to the section Specific case of employees with a visa or residence permit “Talent Researcher Passport” or ‘Research scientist.

Your minor children (under 18)

If you are registered for French social security, you can attach your minor children (under the age of 18). They are your “beneficiaries” (ayant-droits). However, it is not automatic; we must ask for it.

To apply for the attachment of your minor children as ayant-droit, you must fill out the application form for the attachment of minor children to one or both insured parents and send it (deposit or mailing) to your Health Insurance (CPAM), accompanied by the supporting documents requested in the form.


Your spouse and children over 18

They must be insured on a personal basis and therefore according to their situation during their stay (employee,, students, length of stay, etc.) and their visa.

For the specific case of families of paid researchers, visa holders, or “family – talent passport” or “private and family life” (for Algerians) residence permit holders

Applications to register your family may also be sent to the CPAM of Paris, regardless of your place of residence in France and ideally at the same time as the researcher. By derogation, spouses without employment in France need not wait 3 months after their arrival in France before requesting affiliation.

Sometimes also called mutuelle, the supplementary health insurance reimburses the amount of the user  (ticket modérateur) fee after deduction of the flat-rate contribution (costs not covered by social security). It is optional but it is strongly recommended to take one.

Health insurance for travel, health insurance for expats…

Many companies offer insurance packages based on the length of coverage (fewer than 3 months, up to 12 months, more than 12 months…) and the type of stay in France (tourism, professional, studies…). It is important to do your research regarding what the insurance actually covers and be careful of exceptions:

  • Only emergency/accident expenses
  • Common medical expenses (medical consultations, medicine, laboratory tests…)

Of course, the less expensive the insurance, the greater the chances of the insurance being restrictive (and thus with fewer reimbursements) and larger deductibles.

Please note: when you stay in France for longer than 3 months, it is essential that you sign up for full insurance coverage.


A few of the most well-known French insurance companies

Among the most well-known companies are:


Packages negotiated for PhD students and researchers


  • Personalized health insurance regardless of the length of your stay
  • Insurance for all medical expenses, without repatriation insurance (additional insurance may be taken out)
  • Packages for additional insurance / private insurance are also available
  • For more information, you can contact the Agence Anthony Corneille directly: agence.corneille@axa.fr

www.ameli.fr (Health Insurance Online)

Some pages may be available in English. YOu may have a look here

All contact details are available on ameli.fr/ Ameli portal for insured persons: go to Adresses et contacts > un autre sujet > Dans un de nos points d’accueil and you will find the list of welcome office of CPAM (addresses and opening hours)
Phone information: 3646 From Monday to Friday, from 8.30am to 5.30pm – service charged 0.06 € / minute + call price
CPAM provides a telephone enquiry service in English at 09 74 75 36 46 from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. From abroad dial 00 33 974 75 36 46.

http://www.cleiss.fr (CLEISS, Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale, a national public institution responsible for providing information on social protection in the context of international mobility)