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What to do before you arrive in France

When you are a foreign student and you come to live in France, there are several steps to take to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. Follow our advice to make your arrival easier. From opening a bank account to the Navigo pass, which is essential for future Parisians, we tell you everything. 




The essential administrative steps


Open a bank account


To find a bank and to open a bank account is the first thing you need to do. Even before you arrive! That will allow you to deposit money but also to pay the deposit of your monthly rent. It is important to know that all apartment rental agencies ask to be paid by bank transfer.


You will also need a RIB (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire) for all the French administrations (CAF, Sécurité Sociale…) which could grant you student aid that way and for your employer who will pay your salary.


If you are a student, it can also help your parents transfer you some money in case of emergency.  



Settling your residence permit 


To avoid being in an irregular situation, and to avoid paying additional fees, it is imperative to regulate your residence permit. To know all the necessary documents needed, go to the website "Étrangers en France". If you have difficulties or do not understand something, ask for help at the police station (or prefecture of police) of your place of residence. 


The residence permit must be paid before the end of your visa. The procedure can be lengthy but as long as your papers have been deposited on your personal space, you will have no problem.



Get an apartment 


Have a guarantor


To find an apartment, you need a physical guarantor in France. He or she must be a resident of France for tax purposes and have a salary of 3 times the amount of your rent. You will also need to have a deposit ready, that is to say the equivalent of one additional rent if you are renting an unfurnished apartment or two rents if you are renting a furnished apartment.  


Remember to activate the notifications on all the housing search sites to be warned when an agency or a private individual has an apartment available. These go out very quickly and the faster you are, the more chance you will have to visit the apartment.


If you don't have a physical guarantor in France, you can try Visale. It is a free service from the government to provide a guarantee in case of overdue rent, but does not require having a physical guarantor. But be careful, not all the agencies agreed to use Visale. 



Housing allowances


Students may have access to housing assistance through the CAF (Caisse d'allocations familiales). Since the procedure can take several months, we advise you to take care of it immediately after signing the lease for your apartment. 

Once your file has been approved, you will receive housing assistance every 5th of the month. Don't worry, even if the process takes several months, you will still be reimbursed for the months you were waiting for your application to be confirmed. The assistance will start from the day you rented your apartment.



Some needed cards 


The "carte vitale"


Getting sick can happen to anyone, at any time and in any country. However, in order to have access to French health care, it is necessary to be registered with the social security system and to have a "carte vitale". Indeed, the latter will exempt you from accumulating medical healthcare sheets that you must remember to send in order to receive a reimbursement several months later (as opposed to a few days with the card).


To register, it's over here for the assurance maladie.



The "Navigo pass" in Paris


To get around Paris, there are several ways, the easiest of which is by public transportation. Here again, you need to get a Navigo pass, which is the metro card used in Paris. You can do it online or in a RATP agency.
By mail, it takes about 2 weeks so don't delay. The passes are monthly and start on the 1st of the month.

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