Moving to France can be a bit confusing and complicated. The country is very regulated and, depending on your country of origin, there might be a lot of administrative procedures you need to take care of before moving.
Before your move to France
Get a visa if you need one. If you are moving to France from another European Union country, the European Economic Area, Switzerland, Monaco or Andorra, you are not required to apply for a visa. It does not matter the length of your stay in France you are not required to get a visa.
If you are holding a residence or a travel permit issued by a country within the Schengen Area, you will not need a visa for a stay of less than 90 days.
If your situation is different from the ones listed above, then you will need a visa to move to France. There are multiple types of visas that you may apply for depending on your reasons for moving to France (Short stay visa, spouse visa, work visa, student visa etc.). To know more about the different visas and make the right choice for you, you can consult the French Embassy or the French consulate near you. In some countries, such as the USA, the French consulate may be very far away from you, be sure to check out their website for opening times and procedures beforehand.
Learn a bit of French. Even though, the situation has been slightly improving recent years, French people are still very uncomfortable with speaking English. Moving to France without speaking French is a big mistake that you should try to avoid. Take at the very least a few lessons to learn the basics. Often times, people you will meet in your everyday life (cashiers for instance) will not speak any English at all.
Prepare your move. If you plan on bringing some or all of your household items with you, there are several steps that you need to take to ensure that your move goes as smoothly as possible. To choose the best mover for you and save up to 40% on your move, you are advised to request several moving quotes (this is always free). The price of a move can vary a lot depending on the mover. It might be tempting to choose the cheapest price for your move, however, try to consult reviews about the different removal companies online on independent platforms such as Sirelo. A cheap move badly executed could end up costing much more than an originally more expensive move. You can think about issues such as damages, theft, delays etc.
If you need to provide a Customs Declaration, it may be worthwhile having the removal company to take care of the packaging for you. In this case, the movers will be able to make the Customs Declaration for you and save you the trouble.
Are you planning on moving with your pets? Then you need to keep in mind that your pet should be at least 12 weeks old, identified by a microchip and vaccinated before the move. Some additional documentation such as blood tests may be required depending on the country you are relocating from.
Upon your arrival in France
Residence permit and registration. If you are moving to France from a country in the European Union or within the European Economic Area, you will not need to apply for a resident permit. You only need to make sure that you have a valid passport. However, you will still need to register with your local town hall if you intend to stay in France for more than 3 months.
If you do not fit these requirements, you will need to apply for a residence permit or “titre de séjour” within 3 months of your arrival. To do so, you will to need bring the required documentation such as your birth certificate, proof of address, copy of your passport, etc., to the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFFI). However, be aware, the residence permit you will have the opportunity to apply for depends on the type of visa you came to France with.
It is generally recommended that you do not wait until the last moment to take care of these administrative procedures. Firstly, to save yourself from undue stress and secondly because the French administrative system can sometimes be a bit slow. Finally, note that you can only apply for a residence permit if you are in France with a long-stay visa.
Social Security and Insurance. If you live in France, you are legally required to have a health insurance in France. If your stay in France is longer than 3 months, you can benefit from the French healthcare system through the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM). You will receive a personal identification number and your “Carte Vitale” (used by practitioners to identify you).
However, all the medical expenses are not covered or completely covered by the French health system. If you want to benefit from a better protection, you may want to turn to the private sector or opt for a top up or a complementary insurance.
If you are salaried in France, your employer will generally process your Social Security registration within 8 days of your starting date. If you are not salaried but self-employed, it is your duty to process the registration yourself.
Open a bank account. A French bank may prove useful if you plan to live in the country for a long period. Having a bank account may come in handy in order to receive your salary or pay your rent for instance. Moreover, using your bank account abroad will probably cost you more money in fees than opening a bank account in France ever will.
Register with the tax office. If you plan on staying in France for more than 182 days per year, you will automatically be considered as a tax resident from the day of your arrival in the country. In order to pay the corresponding taxes, you will need to register with your local tax office.
Exchange your driver licence. People under the age of 18 who have a driving licence, will not be able to drive in France. The legal driving age in France is 18 years and above. In case you already are of legal driving age and you already have driving licence then this will be valid for a year (as long as you have an official translation with you).
If your licence was issued by an EU/EEA country or in Switzerland, you will not need to change it. However, if you do not fit these criteria, you will need to proceed to an exchange within 12 months. To do so, you can go to your local Police Prefecture or Town Hall.
Sirelo.co.uk for Meretdemeures.com.