Moving to France? Top 10 Questions to ask

June 7, 2024 | Blog, Home & Relocation

Fabien Pelissier, the founder of Fab French Insurance, has been in the insurance sector since 2015. With a passion for helping English-speaking expats navigate the administrative hurdles of the insurance industry, he has successfully guided thousands of clients through the visa application process, making things as simple as Frenchly possible. Here are some of the questions he is regularly asked by those moving to France from the Uk and further afield. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Moving to France

If I buy a property in France is there a guarantee I can get my visa?

Having a property (or not) doesn’t change anything about the visa process. However you can include a break clause on your property purchase agreement to have the transaction cancelled if your visa is denied.


Moving to paris, France?


Although this is completely doable, visa rejection coming from an English-speaking country is so rare that it’s often not worth the trouble. It is also worth noting that although there are no guarantees, owning a property outright in France without a mortgage is also often linked to officials being more flexible with visa applications, mostly in regards to the “proof of income” part – but this is very much an “unspoken rule”.

How long does it take to get or apply for a French visa?

The visa process itself should be started at least 30 days before the intended arrival date in France. You first need to book an appointment at a local visa centre. Availability can vary so it’s best to leave at least a couple of weeks of margin to maximise the odds of securing an appointment.

After the interview, the usual processing time before your passport is returned to you (hopefully containing your visa if it was accepted) is an additional couple of weeks,  hence the 30 days minimum allowance you should give them.

Do I need to setup a business to run a Gîte in France?

There are quite a few different schemes you can set up to run a Gîte business in France, and there is definitely no “one size fits all” answer. It also massively depends on how much turnover you’re making.

For example up to 23,000€ you can often file your taxes under a particular scheme called “LMNP” which doesn’t require you to setup an official business (and is still compliant with having a non-working visa, such as the visitor visa).


French properties


Most of the time expats will either opt for the LMNP or to be registered as a “micro-entreprise” (self employed) if their turnover is above 23,000€. As this is an important decision, I would recommend booking a free consultation to make sure you know your options.

What kind of insurance do we need to support our long term visas in France?

The official requirement is a private medical insurance (not a travel insurance policy as those don’t cover you in your country of residence, which will become France). This should have no excess, deductibles, co-pay or co-insurance, with 30,000€ cover and repatriation included.

There are other smaller requirements, but if you match those you’re already looking good. If in doubt, check out our partner offer with Fab French Insurance.

When can we apply to the French healthcare system and what are the costs?

You can initiate the process, called a “demande d’ouverture de droits” with CPAM (French social security) after 90 days of living in France. Depending on your situation it can be completely free (for British retirees for example) or in some cases you may have to pay a tax called the CSM tax.

But worry not – even if you are required to pay CSM, it is often much cheaper than private medical insurance in your home country. If you want to be sure of your personal situation, book a consultation with one of our local immigration experts in France and we can advise you on the best way to proceed.

What type of visa should I apply for?

It depends on “why” you’re moving to France. For retirees and remote workers the best option would be a visitor visa. For those setting up a business in France, one of the various types of business visas like the profession libérale visa or the entrepreneur visa.

Combined, the various business visa types and the visitor visa account for the vast majority of all visa applications for English speaking expats. If you’re unsure we’re more than happy to help you figure out which visa is the best for you.


Social time when you move to France


I’ve heard there is a medical exam, can we fail it?

Th short answer is no. While there is a medical exam, they are only screening for contagious disease like Tuberculosis and make sure you’re up to date with your innoculations. In France, COVID vaccinations are not part of the mandatory list for this exam.

When can we apply for a residency permit?

You can apply for a residency permit once you’ve been in France for 10 months. Although we strongly recommend you wait until you have your French social security before applying (unless you’re getting too close to visa expiration). Don’t wait until the end of the 11th month, as you can no longer apply for that residency permit if you’re less than 30 days away from visa expiry date.


Stunning countryside in France


In some very specific cases (for the spouse of a French or EU citizen for example) you can apply for a residency permit straight away. But the more typical process is a 1 year visa followed by a 1 year residency permit.

What if I am the partner of a EU (or French) citizen?

This allows you to skip the visa process and apply directly for a residency permit. You can therefore come to France directly and apply for a carte de résident directly from within France at your local préfecture.

Do we need to exchange our driving license?

Unless you’re coming from the UK then the answer is yes (if you want to keep driving in France). If you’re coming from the UK you also will also eventually need to change your driving license, but there is a longer tolerance. However in theory every non-EU expat is supposed to have exchanged their driving license within their first year after relocation.


Cute French cars


Find out more about the range of useful services offered by Fab French Insurance. Register for Fabien’s upcoming online webinar for an enlightening session that will answer your questions in more detail and empower you on your journey of moving to France.

Read more recommendations, relocation stories and inspiring interviews on the MumAbroad blog

Contact Details:

1432 Route de Bayonne, 40230, Benesse Maremne, France

+33 05 35 65 50 50
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