Find out all the mandatory administrative procedures to be completed to study and live in France

Administrative procedures to be completed before your departure

To be authorized to stay in France, non-EU citizens must apply for a visa at the nearest French embassy or consulate in their home country. 

The visa application process cannot be started more than 3 months before your expected arrival date in France. This gives you time to gather all the documents and information necessary for your application. 

If you are a resident of an EU Country, you  do not need a visa. When applying for a visa, a fixed address in France  for the first 3 months will be requested. 

It is therefore important to conduct your search for accommodation in parallel with your visa application.

Shared accommodation, university residence, individual apartment? 

Finding accommodation will be more or less easy depending on your choices and the city in which you are going to study. 

In any case, it must be started well before your departure because the search for accommodation involves many administrative procedures. 

You will find all the information on finding accommodation here.

For non-EU citizens, coverage by the French social security only takes effect on the day of their enrollment in a school or a university. 

This means that should an accident happen to you between your arrival and your registration in a school or university, you would not be covered by the French social security. 

That is why it is very important to suscribe to a temporary health insurance to bridge the gap between your arrival and your registration.

Administrative procedures to be completed on arrival

In France, social security is free for students and allows partial or total reimbursement of medical expenses. This coverage generally accounts for 70% of the costs advanced during a conventional  medical consultation. The remaining costs may be supplemented by private health insurance called “mutuelle”.

For European citizens 

The European Health Insurance card is sufficient to benefit from coverage by French social security. The European Health Insurance Card is free and must be requested in your home country. If you already have your European Health Insurance Card, check its validity date. If you do not have an European health card, you must register with French social security. 

For non-European citizens 

You must register with French social security on their website. To be noted: you will only be covered by Social Security once you have registered in a French establishment. This usually happens a few days or even a few weeks after your arrival. In the meantime, you are not covered and we therefore strongly advise you to purchase temporary health insurance. 

For Quebecers 

It is not necessary to register with French social security. To be covered, thanks to the Franco-Quebecois agreements on medical expenses, just fill out the SE 401-Q-102 bis form or the SE 401-Q-106 form if you are on an exchange program between universities.

In addition to Social security you can also take a complementary health insurance called “mutuelle”. As this service is subject to a fee, it cannot be mandatory. But it is strongly recommended if you wish to be reimbursed 100% of your medical expenses. 

To find out more about the third-party payment system, agreed tariffs, complementary health insurances and emergency numbers, consult our article on the health system in France.

Some organizations (especially banks) ask students to have a French telephone number. 

Fortunately, in  France you can find  many subscriptions with no obligation at fairly low prices. You can easily cancel them once your stay in France ends. 

To learn more about the different types of offers available and the procedure to follow to benefit from them, consult our dedicated article.

Most public organizations such as CAF (see below “Housing Aids”) or Social Security only make refunds by bank transfer to a French or European account. 

In the same way, if you want to take out a contract for telephone, internet, electricity and gas, you will need a French bank account. 

Some public organizations accept European bank accounts but this is not automatic and does not concern all European countries. 

We therefore recommend that you open a French bank account to simplify and centralize all your procedures. 

To find out more about the documents required to open a bank account and the terms specific to the banking sector, consult our dedicated article.


All the international students can benefit from Housing Aids. 

Housing Aids are delivered by an organism called the “CAF”. It is a public French organization in charge of paying financial benefits of a social or family nature. It can help international students to pay their rent via the “APL” program (Personalized Housing Aids). The amount of this aid depends on many criteria :  your family situation, the price of your rent, the size of the accommodation, etc. 

To be noted : The application for APL is very useful but it is also one of the main difficulties for international students arriving in France. The CAF website is only available in French and some questions may be difficult to understand. We strongly advise you to be accompanied to carry out your procedure. 

Find here our complete article on the CAF.

All holders of a visa bearing the words “student”, “talent passport”, “trainee” must have it validated as soon as they arrive in France. 

To do this you must pay a tax, the amount of which depends on the type of visa issued to you. 

Payment is made through the purchase of an electronic fiscal stamp. You have 3 months to validate your visa after your arrival in France. 

If you have not done so within the time limit provided your visa will no longer be valid and your situation in France will be considered irregular. Should you travel abroad, you would not be authorized to return to French territory.

To find out how to validate your visa, read our dedicated article.

Contribution to student and campus life (CVEC) only applies to students coming to France outside of an exchange. 

This means that if you are studying in France  through an Erasmus+ type program you do not need to pay this contribution. 

If this is not the case, you must pay this contribution because a payment certificate will be requested when you register in your establishment.