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Check our new ebooks on the French Health sytem and how to apply for a Carte Vitale.
We start this New Year with some great news! In a nutshell, from 1st January 2016, ANYONE who has moved to France and been living in the country as a permanent resident can apply for French health care coverage. So this means that if you are intending to move to France, or already have, and are not working, you can apply for your Carte Vitale once you have lived here for three months on a ‘stable and regular’ basis.

This policy change equalises rights for EU citizens with non-EU citizens, who already had the right to apply for their Carte Vitale after three months’ permanent residence in France, whilst EU residents were obliged to wait five years.

This reform, effectively abolishing the ‘CMU de base’ and replacing with a new system called the ‘Protection Universelle Maladie’, simplifies what some have seen as unfair legislation for EU citizens and their supposed free movement within the European Union.

Simplified Health Insurance for Foreigners in France

If you have no professional activity, regardless of your age, the protection universelle maladie guarantees a right to the reimbursement of most of your health costs (70% on average) and the application system is now much simplified. Individuals need to complete the correct form from l’Assurance Maladie and send it back with the requested supporting documents to your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) office.* Top-up or complementary insurance (une mutuelle) can be taken for full reimbursement of most medical costs.

Documents Required to Apply for Health Insurance in France.

•  Photocopy of your official birth certificate – the jury is still out at the moment as to whether you need to supply a certified translation (traduction assermentée) as there are more reforms happening in order to dispense with the necessity to provide these within Europe. However, until these reforms become official and until that news reaches the desk-workers in the CPAM offices, we recommend that you add a certified translation into your application file.
• Photocopy of your passport
• Proof of your permanent residence in France for more than three months – this can be a copy of your lease, your title or deed (Acte de Vente or Acte Finale), gas, electricity or fixed-line phone bills.
• If you have dependent children at home with you, you need to complete an additional form from l’Assurance Maladie.

Submitting Your French Health Insurance Application

Once you have everything together and have filled in the forms, you can hand it in to your local CPAM office or send it via post. They will study your situation and your rights. If necessary (ie., if you are non-working but under state retirement age), they will then write and ask you to send proof of income so they can calculate your contributions. You will then receive a temporary Social Security number, followed by a request for a photograph for your Carte Vitale, which you should receive next. Note that timescales may not shorten with this reform, but as soon as you have your temporary number (between 4-6 weeks), you can start claiming your costs back.*

Complementary CMU (CMU complémentaire) is still in place.

The basic CMU, which has been replaced with the protection universelle maladie, should not be confused with the complementary CMU (CMU complémentaire). CMU complémentaire is the French state’s free top-up health insurance for those living here in a stable and regular manner and on low incomes — it complements the new protection universelle maladie. CMU complémentaire is means-tested and only available to those below a certain income threshold.  The new legislation therefore doesn’t change the CMU complémentaire in principle nor its attribution rules.

We at Renestance are thrilled to hear about these changes, making it easier for Francophiles across Europe to make the move to France and benefit from the world-class healthcare.

For more information in French, please visit l’Assurance Maladie.

If you do not read French and need assistance filling out this form, please contact our Administrative Assistance team here at Renestance. You can also hand the whole procedure over to Renestance and we’ll do everything for you!


Note: If you are an inactive (not working) EU national and have been told that you must reside 5 years in France before you’re eligible for a Carte Vitale by your local CPAM or by the Anglo Améli phone line, we have a possible solution! As with most things bureaucratic, the success of your task often depends on the individual person you are dealing with, but it always helps to have some form of official, written back-up.

Click on this link to the Améli website itself, where they state that, as well as having to have the legal right to live in France, you need only to have been a stable resident for three months or more to qualify to apply for PUMa. Print it out to take with you to CPAM with your application pack, or use it to quote to the Améli team: www.ameli.fr/assures/soins-et-remboursements/cmu-et-complementaires-sante/la-cmu-de-base-n-existe-plus/l-affiliation-sur-critere-de-residence_rhone.php

We have been informed that it works!


Check our new ebooks on the French Health sytem and how to apply for a Carte Vitale.

Nicole Hammond

Nicole is a bilingual Brit from Cambridge who has been living in the Languedoc since 2002 and is one of the first Renestance's Consultants. She knows how to get things done and can find the key contacts, having worked in real estate, managed two businesses of her own, and started a large social group for English-speakers in the area.

All articles by: Nicole Hammond

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