Mes études & moi

Coming to France to study? All you need to know about the French social security system

Coming to France to study ? Planning to work while you study ? Wondering how the French social security system can protect you ? Secu-jeunes tells you everything you need to know!

Stay healthy by building good habits !

1. Register at to get your social security number!

Please note : if you come from a country within the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, you can apply via your home country’s social security system for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). As long as it is valid until at least the end of the academic year, your medical expenses will continue to be covered. You do not need to register on the website.

If you are coming from outside the EU-EEA-Switzerland, please register via the website. You can apply to join the French social security system here. Fill in the required information and submit the supporting documents requested.

A provisional French social security number will be allocated to you automatically via the website.

It is essential to do the following:

  • Download your provisional certificate from your personal space on the website. If you are unable to register online, you can call 36 46: a telephone advisor will be available to help you (in English).
  • Once your French national insurance number has been certified, you can download your definitive social security registration certificate (from your personal space).

2. I want a Carte Vitale so my medical expenses are reimbursed !

The Carte Vitale is a personal green card containing all the administrative information needed to cover your treatment. Valid throughout all of France, you can use it during your stay:

  • at your GP’s practice
  • in a hospital
  • at a clinic
  • at a pharmacy…

3. Open an Ameli account !

With your Ameli account, you can check if you have been reimbursed, update your personal details, download your certificates, and order your Carte Vitale card.

All of the prices, opening times, specialities and locations of doctors and health establishments are also featured Quickly find the doctors nearest to you !

4. Register your GP !

Your general practitioner (GP) is your primary healthcare provider who coordinates your medical records, including test results, diagnoses, treatments, and more. Your GP is best placed to monitor and advise you. They will help you navigate the healthcare system, including recommending specialists and resident physicians. Make sure that your doctor is a “sector 1” doctor.

Please note : with a “sector 1” GP, the consultation fee is €26.50. By consulting your GP first, you are following what is known as the “coordinated care pathway”. In this case, the French health insurance fund will cover 70% of your consultation, whereas if you consult another doctor, it will only reimburse 30% of the fee.

However, it is not always easy to find a GP. If you have any problems, we advise you to contact the local branch of your health insurance fund (caisse d’assurance maladie or cpam) or the health coordinating organisations in the French département where you reside.

Did you know ? A flat-rate contribution of €2 is charged to anyone aged 18 or over when visiting a doctor, for example. A medical excess of €1 also applies to medicines and to paramedical procedures such as nursing care or physiotherapy.

5. The French national insurance fund (Assurance maladie) does not cover everything, this is why we advise taking out a supplementary health insurance policy !

The rate at which you are reimbursed by the French national insurance fund varies according to the procedures and drugs you are prescribed, your circumstances, and whether or not you are following the coordinated care pathway. The amount you have to pay is the part of your medical costs which, as the name suggests, you have to pay after you have been reimbursed by the French national insurance fund.

That is why it is vital to have supplementary health cover (e.g. mutuelle etc.). The French national insurance fund may pay all or part of your expenses, however you are still liable for such charges.

100% reimbursement by the French national insurance fund is only possible in certain situations, in particular for people with long-term illnesses (ALD), for directly related treatment.

On a low income or having difficulty paying rent ? Here is how the French social security system can help !

Like French students, foreign students in France are entitled to certain benefits such as the housing allowance (aide personnalisée au logement or APL) and employment bonus (prime d’activité or PA).

As a reminder, students from outside the European Union (EU) require a “student”-type residence permit to work in France. French law allows foreign students to work up to 964 hours a year on an ancillary basis. By way of exception: if you are doing an apprenticeship or on a professional training contract you can work more than 964 hours a year.

Good to know: it is also possible to work within your school or university, for example, welcoming students at the start of the academic year or supporting students with disabilities.

1. Housing allowance (aide personnalisée au logement or APL) :

To qualify for housing allowance, you must meet the following conditions :

  • you must have a valid residence permit,
  • you must be registered with the compulsory student social security scheme,
  • you must have a bank account in France,
  • you must have an income such as a salary or student grant below a certain threshold.

You can apply via the website of the benefits office (caisse d’allocations familiales or Caf). You can even simulate the amount of housing allowance you are entitled to.

This is also available for those who are sharing accommodation ! The amount of rent taken into account for the calculation of the assistance is then divided according to the number of flatmates. Each flatmate has to apply individually for housing allowance.

2. The employment bonus (prime d’activité or PA) :

The employment bonus bolsters the purchasing power of low-income workers.  Employed foreign students, as well as apprentices and trainees, are eligible for this allowance under certain conditions:

  • you must be at least 18 years old,
  • be employed or self-employed,
  • have a net income in excess of €1,070.78 per month.

In addition, foreign students must comply with certain residence conditions :

  • European students must be long-term residents and have been living in France for at least 3 months when they apply for the employment bonus.
  • Students from other countries must have held a residence permit for at least 5 years.

To qualify, you need to complete an online form available from the Caf website.