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.

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 PhD program in a French establishment, you have a student card, and are not a paid employee (doctoral contract, CIFRE contract…): you can benefit from social security for free. To find out how to register, please consult the following rubric: Students and Social Security

You are a PhD student in an international joint thesis program: this will depend on your program contract and how long you will stay in France. If you will be staying in France for fewer than three months, you are not eligible for social security.

You are a PhD student and employed in France (you have a doctoral contract, a CIFRE agreement…): you will be registered for social security based on professional criteria. For the appropriate steps to take, consult the Researchers and Social Security section and begin your registration application process as soon as possible.


If you are a non-European PhD student and have a visa/residence permit “researcher – talent passport” because you have a contract in France (doctoral contract, CIFRE…), please refer to the section Specific instance of paid employees with a “Researcher – Talent Passport” or “Scientist – Researcher” visa or residence permit.

Your underage children (younger than 18)

If you yourself are signed up for French social security, your children can be covered by it as well (younger than 18). They are your “dependents.” However, this coverage is not automatic and must be requested.

To request coverage for your under-age children as beneficiaries, you must fill in the application for coverage of minors under one or both of the parents’ insurance form and send it (by submitting or mailing it) to your Health Insurance Office (CPAM), in addition to the supporting documents requested on the form.


You spouse and your children of majority age (over 18)

They must sign up for insurance as individuals based on their situation during their stay (employed, unemployed, length of stay…).

For the specific case of Passeport Talent Famille visa or 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 you. By derogation, spouses without employment in France need not wait 3 months after their arrival in France before requesting affiliation.

Sometimes referred to as “mutual insurance,” it reimburses the co-payment after deduction of the lump sum contribution (costs not covered by social security). It is optional but strongly recommended.

Beneficiaries: all persons registered with social security (affiliation based on professional or residence related criteria).

Procedure: first check to see if you have additional insurance for students or through your employer if you are employed.

Many private insurance companies offer supplementary health insurance packages.

The centers LMDE and HEYME Mutuelle Santé also offer packages. Certain packages include third-party liability insurance (required for internships, for example) and home insurance at student prices.

The French Social Security Offices (l’Assurance Maladie) offer a Supplementary Health Care Aid (Complémentaire santé solidaire), with or without financial participation, based on your income. You can simulate your eligibility on the Ameli website to find out if you are eligible for this supplementary health care. With the Supplementary Health Care Aid, in most cases, you do not need to pay, fill out, or send any forms to your health insurance fund. Upfront payments are waived.

To request the supplementary health care aid, you must either complete the application online using your Ameli account, or fill out the application form for supplementary health care aid and address it by mail to the Social Security offices (CPAM) of your place of residence, along with the supporting documents requested in the form.

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: online French health insurance

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” (in one of our reception points).
Phone: 3646 From Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. – service charge €0.06 / minute + call price
The CPAM provides a telephone information service in English at 09 74 75 36 46 (from France) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. From abroad, dial 00 33 974 75 36 46.

http://www.cleiss.fr: the CLEISS, Center for European and International Social Security Liaisons, “Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale”, a national public establishment whose job it is to provide information regarding social protections in the context of international mobility

https://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=13750&langId=fr: the European Commission’s guide: “Your Rights to Social Security in France” (“Vos droits en matière de sécurité sociale en France”)