Whether it is mandatory or not, registration with the French Social Security may take a few months. It is therefore recommended to start the steps quickly, or even to subscribe to a private insurance for the first 3-4 months in France in case of emergency.
Social security covers only a part of the health costs (up to 70% depending on the act) of registered persons. In order to obtain a better reimbursement of your medical expenses, it is strongly advised to subscribe to supplementary health insurance (complémentaire santé, or mutuelle).
Usual procedure: You must fill in the application for health insurance coverage form and send it (by submitting or mailing it) to the Health Insurance Office (CPAM) of your place of residence, in addition to the supporting documents requested on the form.
In order to obtain a better reimbursement of your medical expenses, it is strongly recommended to subscribe to supplementary health insurance (complémentaire santé, or mutuelle) through your employer or on your own.
For more information :
The CPAM provides a telephone information service in French or English at 09 74 75 36 46 (from France) or 0033 974 75 36 46 (from other countries), from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The English speaking operators will answer immediately or within 48 hours, if the answer requires research
First check if you cannot be covered during your stay in France via your European Health Insurance Card or a bilateral agreement between France and your country of residence. Otherwise, you may be able to join the Universal Health Protection (Protection Universelle Maladie – PUMa) in France with your local Assurance Maladie (or Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie – CPAM) according to your place of residence, or to choose a private insurance in your country of residence or in France.
If you choose to join the Social Security Universal Health Insurance Coverage (PUMa), under the residence criteria, please be aware of sometimes limited interest, depending on your situation.
You must fill in the application for health insurance coverage form and send it (by submitting or mailing it) to the Health Insurance Office (CPAM) of your place of residence, in addition to the supporting documents requested on the form.
Beware: The request is possible only after 3 months of residence in France, apart from special exemptions*. You will need another coverage for the first three months. Moreover, if you are registered under the residence criteria for Universal Health Insurance Coverage and you receive an income from an activity and/or wealth exceeding a certain threshold, you will need to pay the subsidiary health insurance contribution.
* You do not need to prove your stable residence for more than three months in France if you are in one of the following situations (article D160-2 of the Social Security Code):
- You are joining or accompanying your family member who is already insured in France
- You are enrolled in an educational institution or are a trainee in France within the framework of cultural, technical and scientific cooperation agreements.
- You are recognised as a refugee or a beneficiary of subsidiary protection, or you are an asylum seeker.
- You are an international volunteer abroad returning to France..
If you choose a private insurance :
- Make sure that your contract covers all health expenses for the entire duration of your stay in France (find out before you leave about the scope of the guarantees).
- Ask your organization for a health insurance certificate (in English or French) proving that you are covered.
- Make sure your insurance guarantees repatriation and that you are covered by liability insurance.