Registering With The French Health System

Registering With The French Health System

Registering with the French Health System (CPAM)

I always advise my British clients to contact the NHS (overseas department) before relocating to France in order to apply for the necessary documents to get into the French Health System. You need to apply for a S1. This document can take a while to come through so it is best to apply for it before moving to France. Please note you can only apply for a S1 if you are a UK resident and if you are RETIRED.

Once it is in your possession, visit your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie). Your local mairie will be able to give you the address of the local branch. As the French love their paperwork, always carry with you for the 6 months following your move to France your passport, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and a proof of address (phone, EDF or water bill) with you The CPAM office will also need your bank details. It is called a RIB (Relevé d’identité bancaire). Your French bank will supply you with several RIB when you open a French bank account but if you require more just ask your bank, they will print some more for you. You can also find one in your cheque book.

Once you are registered it will take a while for you to receive your Carte Vitale but in the meantime you will get a proof of your registration called “attestation”. Carry this paperwork with you all the time. I always advise my British clients to copy it and keep a copy in their hand bag, wallets and glove box of the car. Emergencies can happen anytime! The doctor, dentist, chemist and any other practitioners and healthcare specialists will ask for the attestation. Once you’ve received your Carte Vitale keep the attestation in your file. It will be handy to have if you lose your Carte Vitale.

You will then have to register with a doctor of your choice (médecin traitant). You will have to send a new “Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant” each time you decide to change doctors. Those forms can be picked up from the CPAM or you will find one online by visiting this site here.

If you arrive in France and are not officially retired or employed in France you will have to visit your local CPAM and apply for PUMa. Take the following documents with you: passport, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and a proof of address (phone, EDF or water bill). The CPAM office will also need your bank details. It is called a RIB (Relevé d’identité bancaire).


If you are self-employed, you won’t have to register with CPAM. Where you register to pay your health and social charges will depend on what professional activity you have. This information will be given to you on registering your business.

Registering can be long but it is worth it.

Remember: the French healthcare service is one of the best in the world, offering a wide choice of general practitioners and healthcare specialists!

If you need any assistance with registering with the French Health System, don’t hesitate to contact me. I will be pleased to help.


carte vitale

Registering with French health system

6 Comments so far

Kathy SimmonsPosted on  2:34 pm - May 1, 2016

Hi Rachel
Kathy Simmons here again. I have another query after reading this page. I have a Carte de Sejour but had to show proof of health insurance which I purchased thru AARO in Paris. I am retired now as is my spouse. I am a US citizen with no transferable medical coverage from the USA Medicare system. Am I eligible to apply for French assurance maladie? If so, do I pay into the system? Or is French insurance free for expatriate retirees with CDS? Also, I hired Haywood Wise, Paris attorney to assist with my CDS. Do you also offer CDS assistance? If so, what is your charge? My spouse will start the visa longue duree AVS he will be back in the USA in August so apply from there (the French embassy in DC). I find your posts incredibly useful. I just don’t know how I was lucky enough to find you.

Bruce and Sue BanardPosted on  12:35 pm - Aug 9, 2018

Dear Rachel ,

We have retired to France and would like to sign up for the Vitale medical card -please can you help us -we live in Creuae -thank you

Jane LockPosted on  12:45 pm - Aug 10, 2018

Hi Rachel, I would like to thank you so much for the very professional help and advise you gave us when obtaining our Carte Vitale. The Link you sent us was so helpful and your response to our queries was quick and beneficial to us getting our Carte Vitale without any problems. Without your help I do not think it would have been straightforward for us. Thank you once again. I have booked marked your website to use your expertise for things in the future.

Jill DespratPosted on  1:30 pm - Nov 4, 2018

Hi there, just arrived in France, took early retirement at 56. I did work here for 15 yrs until 2005 when I returned to uk.I still have my old carte vital . But have since divorced my french husband. Not sure how to go about registering now. My partner is also english but still works 1 day a week online for a company he has dividents in. I would really appreciate some help & advice.

    RachelG GallardPosted on  12:14 pm - Nov 5, 2018

    Dear Jill

    You can visit your local CPAM and apply for PUMa.
    You must be able to prove you have been in France for 3 months (ferry/plane tickets, phone bill etc).
    Let us know how you get on!

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