Living in Europe | Health insurance | France

The social security system in France

(Please note that information may change depending on the regulations in force when you arrive in France.)

The French social protection system allows anyone residing in France on a regular basis to benefit from Social Security to cover health costs. The funding of these services is mainly provided by contributions from all employees and employers declared in France.

Social security reimburses part of the health costs (medical visits, drugs, surgical procedures) and it is advisable to take an additional health insurance, that is to say insurance to pay monthly which will complement and therefore better reimburse expenses related to health costs with different rates, for example for glasses or dental care.

Note that each major affiliate now has their own Social Security number. It is however possible to request to be attached to your spouse's insured number as a Beneficiary.

New: All Students, whatever their age, will be attached to the General Social Security Scheme!

The French social security system is basically a number of statutory schemes:

  • The compulsory general scheme which covers most employees and certain other categories (students, beneficiaries of certain benefits that have progressively come under the general scheme) ;
  • Various "special" schemes covering specific categories of non-agricultural workers against all or some risks (usually old-age, with other risks being covered by the general scheme). 

For more information, please consult the website of the CLEISS (Centre of European and International Liaisons for Social Security), in particular the webpages dedicated to sickness insurance and accidents-at-work and occupational-diseases branch.






Affiliation to the CPAM (Primary Health Insurance Fund)

To join social security, that is to say to benefit from reimbursements on medical expenses, you must apply to the CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie).

The procedures vary depending on your personal and professional situation.


You are a student from the European Union or the European Economic Area and you hold the European Health Insurance Card (CEAM).

This name card makes it easier to pay for the medical care necessary during a temporary stay in France and gives you access to the public health service.

Present it during each visit to a health professional to ensure your care.

To be reimbursed, you must deposit the treatment sheet given by your doctor, your prescription and the copy of your EHIC to the CPAM of your place of residence.

Please note: its period of validity varies depending on the issuing country (ask your social welfare organization in your country of origin or consult the CLEISS website - Periods of validity of the European Health Insurance Card.

You and your family will also be attached to the CPAM under the same conditions.

You will need to obtain the E 104 form from your affiliation body in your country of origin and give it or send it to the CPAM of your place of residence (you find your home fund here).

You will receive an information letter as soon as your file is saved. If you have medical expenses, it is also at this address that you will have to send your proof of payment and care form to obtain reimbursement once you have received your social security number.




Salaried researchers who are nationals of countries not belonging to the European Union but signatories to bilateral social security agreements with France, and who benefit from social security at home, may be reimbursed for their health costs in France.

Before your departure, check with your social protection organization to find out if this agreement includes health and accident insurance.

If this is the case, you can obtain reimbursement of your health costs by presenting to the International Relations Service of the Primary Health Insurance Fund (CPAM): a Certificate of affiliation to the health insurance scheme of your country original with proof of your costs.



If you come for a stay of less than 3-4 months as a self-employed person, you will not be able to benefit from health insurance from Social Security.

This concerns students, doctoral students or researchers on a research internship with a scholarship or with equity, spouses with Visitor status.

In this case, we strongly advise you to subscribe to a private health insurance which will cover your current health expenses at least equivalent to the coverage of Social Security.

Before departure, it is sometimes possible to take out insurance in the country of origin with a private company, which will cover you throughout your stay in France.

In this case, take a certificate of support from this company, which will exempt you from purchasing new health insurance in France.

Otherwise, once in France you can always subscribe to a French private insurance offering insurance contracts to people who cannot or who are not required to contribute to a compulsory Social Security scheme.

Study and compare the offers and prices offered by different companies. For example, you can contact AXA insurance via the Fnak website or ACS AMI who have developed packages for researchers.