The French territory is twice as large as the Italian, while its population is only slightly larger. The capital is Paris. France is one of the founding countries of the EU. Due to its history, it is a country where immigration has always been very present. Today, France is home to about 7.5 million immigrants (9% of the population). Thanks to its history and beauty, many foreigners think about moving to France.
The French, it must be said, believe that their own culture is superior to others, and they are generally very proud of their culture and traditions. This means that if you want to work in France, you must learn French. This does not mean that it is impossible to find a job without knowing the language, but be prepared for a tough challenge and do not expect people to make an effort to understand you.
The French are very proud of their language and the correct pronunciation of French is sacred to them. They are against the use of Anglicisms or other foreign words in their vocabulary.
For those who are already in France, I would like to point out the website of the FLE (French Promotion Agency), which has offices all over the country where you can sign up to improve the language. There are also many free courses for immigrants. Check with the municipality where you live.
Moving to France visas
France is part of the EU, so EU/EFTA and Swiss citizens wishing to move only need a ID. You can stay for 90 days, after you will have to comply with the French government rules.
All citizens of other countries for long stays, (between 3 and 12 months), need a visa. After the first year of residence, foreign nationals wishing to extend their stay in France must apply for the residence permit.
The most common visas are:
- Tourist visa, third country nationals wishing to visit France
- Business visa, third-country nationals pursuing business purposes
- Family visa, third-country nationals who wish to visit a family member in France
- Sport and cultural visa, third country nationals pursuing cultural activities or sporting purposes,
- Student visa, third country students who wish to study in France
- Work visa, for third country nationals who have received a job offer in France
- Working visa, for young people between 18 and 30 years old from 15 countries
- Medical visa, third country nationals who wish to travel to France for medical treatment
You can apply for a French visa at a French embassy or consulate in your home country. Alternatively, you can apply for it online.
Moving to France
If you are an EU citizen, you must take the following steps after arriving in France:
- open a bank account
- find accommodation and obtain a domicile
- find a job
- register with the Sécurité Sociale
- register your residence
1. Open a bank account
The first thing you need to do when you arrive in France is to open a checking account. This is because without it you will not be able to rent an flat.
To open a checking account, as a resident of France, you will need to present some documents:
- ID or passport
- A document proving your residence
- Sometimes an employment contract is also required
If you are still a tax resident in your country, you will need to present the following documents to open a checking account:
- ID or passport
- European Health Insurance Card
- Certificate of residence in your country
- Copy of the last tax return
A resident bank account is much more convenient and cheaper, a non-resident bank account costs much more. To open a checking account as a resident, you can use these options:
- Obtain a certificate of residency from the dormitory, hostel or B&B where you are staying. I advise you to ask if they are willing to issue this statement before booking the accommodation. Show this statement to a bank. If you have problems with one bank, try another. Sometimes the branches of the same bank use different criteria
- Try going to the local Croix Rouge office (Red Cross headquarters) and explaining the situation. There they might issue you a statement to present at the bank to open an account
If you believe you are being discriminated against, you can assert your rights as a European citizen by writing to Solvit (solutions to problems with your EU rights).
2. Finding accommodation
Finding a place to stay in France without having a job is really difficult. The French are very suspicious of the unemployed and are afraid that you will not be able to pay the rent. In France, it is forbidden under any circumstances to vacate your flat in the winter, so they want to be sure you pay every month.
To have any chance at all of renting an flat, you must not only have a regular income (a steady job), but you must also put down a deposit equal to two months’ rent. In addition, 80% of landlords require a guarantor. The guarantor is a person who will vouch for you in case the rent is not paid. The guarantor must be French, although the law actually states that landlords are required to accept foreign guarantors as well.
So it would solve a lot of problems to find a job that involves housing. This happens mainly in the hospitality industry, as a caregiver or babysitter.
Clearly, it’s hard to find housing if you do not have a job. So, apart from the lucky ones who have someone to take them in and allow them to settle down, everyone else has to struggle to regulate their position.
The easiest way is to find temporary accommodation that is as cheap as possible: residences, B & Bs or a sublet room with a family (chambre chez l’habitant). Or you can try Residence Camelot, an agency that manages old buildings and rents them out cheaply. Or ask the support association reseau-sam for help.
Once you have moved into an flat, you can open your bank account and start looking for work.
3. Looking for job
You can find all information in the article: Working in France
4. Registration for social security
The Sécurité Sociale is the public health service for people living in France. It is the employer’s duty to apply for and obtain the temporary social security number for the foreign employee. Subsequently, you must apply for the definitive number. At this time, the carta vitae (health card) will arrive at your home.
5. Residence registration
You must register your residence at the Residents’ Registration Office after 90 days of your stay in France.
If you want to move to France, I recommend you to bring the following documents with you:
- passport or identity card
- health card
- bank statement
- birth certificate
- certificate of residence
- copy of the last tax return
Move to France useful resources
- France Diplomacy, French government website, you can find useful information
- ENIC-NARIC, information about recognition of qualifications
- Study abroad in France, a guide to study in France
- Welcome to France, official website
Move to France and finding accommodation
Here are some rental websites:
- Pap, rental website, (in French)
- Fusac, classifieds website, (in English)
- Selonger, popular rental website, (in French)
- Leboncoin, popular rental website, (in French)
- Studyrama, information, advice and links for finding accommodation and rooms
- Habitat Jeunes, website for rentals (in French)
- Apartager, shared apartments and rooms
Moving to France, Conclusion
Moving in France and finding accommodation in the major French cities, first and foremost Paris, is really difficult. With over 80 million tourists visiting France each year, many prefer short-term rentals. Prices have risen considerably. If you don’t have a permanent job and a French guarantor, your task will be gigantic. In Paris, prices for a 15 m² studio in a non-central location start at €800-900/month + utilities. A room is available from €500. In other cities the situation is a bit better. Much better, however, in smaller cities.
Also remember that if you rent a house, you must have “multi-risk” insurance (assurance d’habitation) to cover risks such as fire, vandalism, etc.
In addition, you must pay the taxe d’habitation. The taxe d’habitation is the responsibility of the tenants and must be paid every year. The amount of the tax depends on the size of the apartment and can be up to one month’s rent.
In France, it is possible to receive housing allowance (APL), a social benefit that helps low-income families pay rent. The subsidy is granted after your application has been examined by the competent authority, CAF