Moving to France: Relocation Guide

Are your employees dreaming of working from Parisian bistros or jetting off to the Côte d'Azur for long holidays? With its rich history, vibrant culture, and robust economy, it's no wonder why many professionals wish to relocate to France.

Make your employees' dreams a reality with our comprehensive relocation guide to France. We've got you covered with all the French immigration information you need for how to move to France. From navigating visas and residence permits, to bringing family members and pets, and more, set them up to thrive as they kick off this exciting next chapter.

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Moving to France: Relocation Guide by Localyze

The basics of French immigration

Relocating existing and/or future employees to France involves navigating various legal and administrative processes. In France, a visa allows your employees to enter the country, while a residency permit will enable them to stay for a specified period. 

France generally offers short-stay visas (90 days or less) and long-stay visas (over 90 days). Additionally, securing a residence permit, or "titre de séjour," is necessary for prolonged stays and typically range from 6 months to 10 years in duration. 

Both visas and residency permits require unique sets of documentation, such as a valid passport, proof of accommodation, and financial resources.

Upon arriving in France, visas must be validated within three months, and certain multi-annual statuses require an exchange for a residency permit within two months. Foreign nationals with valid French residence permits do not need to obtain a new visa each time they leave and return to the country.

Moving to France: employee relocation guide by Localyze - visa extempt

Who is exempt from a French visa?

If your employees fall into the following categories, they won't need a visa to work in France. Instead, they can focus on the tasks related to settle-in admin after arrival.

Citizens of EU/EEA and Switzerland: If your employee is a citizen of one of the 27 EU countries, the three countries in the EEA outside of the EU — Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway — or Switzerland, they do not need a visa to work in France. However, upon arrival, they may need a residence permit (carte de séjour).

Other exceptions include:

  • Foreign nationals who hold a long-term resident permit-EU from a state of the European Union
  • Citizens of Andorra, Monaco, or Saint Marino
  • Foreign employees from non-EU countries who are visiting France for three months or less to engage in paid work in the following fields:
  • Sporting, cultural, artistic, and scientific events
  • Conferences, seminars, and trade shows
  • Production and distribution of cinematic and audiovisual works, shows, and recordings
  • Modeling and artistic posing
  • Personal service workers and domestic workers working in France during their private employers' stay in the country
  • Audit and consulting in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture, and engineering, under the terms of a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement
  • Occasional teaching activities by invited lecturers

What are the types of work visas in France?

Moving to France: Blue Card visa France

EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card (or Talent Passport) is a multi-year residence permit for highly skilled professionals, researchers, and investors. Its purpose is to attract foreign talent to enhance the French economy. Typically, this visa is valid for the duration of the employment contract for any term longer than one year up to a maximum of four years.

✅ Your employees can apply for this visa if they fulfill the following requirements:

✅ A permanent employment contract lasting at least 12 months with a French-based employer

✅ Documentation proving at least 3 years' higher education or professional experience of five years.

✅ Attain a gross annual salary of at least 1.5 times the average yearly gross salary set by decree, i.e. €53,836.50 as of May 1, 2023.

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How to apply for a work visa or permit in France?

As the employer, you are responsible for obtaining the work visa or permit on your employees behalf. Before diving in, determine which option is the best route for your employee and familiarize yourself with the necessary steps and documentation. The visa wizard is a great resource for this. 

Typically, your employee will apply at the French Embassy or Consulate in their country of origin - not in France - but the situation may vary. Be sure to apply with plenty of time, but no earlier than three months before the planned date of arrival in France.

Additionally, immigration laws and policies can vary and change, so it's crucial to ensure you and your employee have the most up-to-date information before proceeding with their application.

What are the qualification requirements for a work visa or permit in France?

Once you and your employee are ready to begin the application process, they’ll need to collect the necessary supporting documents. While this will depend on the specific situation and nature of the job, common requirements include your employer sponsorship, employment contract, and proof of skills and qualifications. It may also include health and character requirements. 

On the France-visas website you can find a comprehensive list of required supporting documents.

Is a formal assessment of qualifications required?

France aims to uphold standards of quality and competence within its workforce while fostering the smooth integration of skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds into the labor market. Therefore, depending on the type of work and visa they’re applying for, applicants may need to pass a formal assessment of qualifications and expertise to be eligible for the visa. For additional details, review the current requirements and procedures directly from the French consulate or embassy websites.

Prepare the documents and attend the interview

Once they know what visa they're applying for, employees will need to prepare all required documents and submit their application to the French consulate or embassy. The basic application for the majority of these visas costs around €99. The Initial Blue Card fee is €269 for the Talent Passport visa. Once they submit their application, they'll need to schedule their interview. They can check the average waiting time for appointments and plan accordingly. 

When attending the interview, your employee should be prepared to present all necessary documents, including the completed application with receipt of payment, as well as discuss their intentions in France. The service provider or consulate will review the application, collect fees, and collect biometric data.

Moving to France: How to relocate to France with family

How to relocate to France with family

The Family Reunification Visa allows your employee to bring immediate family members (typically spouses/partners and children under 18) who won't be working in France. Once the sponsor obtains their residence permit, they can apply for family reunification on behalf of their family members. 

Required documents may include:

  • Proof of family relationship (i.e., marriage certificates or birth certificates)
  • Proof of accommodation in France
  • Proof of financial stability to support the family members
  • Proof of health insurance.

Check out the full details here.

Can you move your pet to France?

Like most EU countries, France allows certain pets during relocation. Generally speaking, for dogs, France prohibits Category 1 (attack) dogs and permits Category 2 (guard and defense) if they comply with specific regulations.

At most, five dogs or cats can accompany your employee to France. Additionally, any dog entering France must have at least one adult tooth.

Before arriving in France, employees must ensure that their pet has:

  • A microchip with a transponder or a clearly readable tattoo if applied before July 3, 2011
  • The necessary vaccinations. For rabies, specifically, vaccination must be given at least 21 days before travel to France, and the antibody test must be performed at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination.
  • If necessary, a test showing the effectiveness of the rabies vaccine (serum titration of rabies antibodies) in an approved EU laboratory between 30 days after vaccination and three months before travel.
  • A health certificate from an official veterinarian in their country of origin, including proof of vaccination.

Upon arriving in France, dogs and cats must be registered with ICAD within eight days and visit a veterinarian to obtain a provisional identification certificate for import or intra-community exchange.

You can read more information on bringing pets to France here.

Moving to France: How to move to Portugal with pets

Settling in France

Once your employee moves to France, there are a few things they'll want to do for a seamless transition into life in France, like open a bank account and exchange their driving license, if necessary. There is also much to learn regarding taxes, health insurance, and social security.

Moving to France: How to prepare for the registration appointment

Taxes in France

In France, anyone conducting a professional activity — including expats — is considered a "tax domicile." Residents are taxed on their entire income earned, whether from French or foreign sources, and the tax is calculated based on the combined incomes of the household, typically ranging from 0%-45%. Some people may owe additional surtaxes if their income exceeds certain amounts.

When your employee becomes a resident, French tax authorities automatically assign a 13-digit unique identifier, starting with 0, 1, 2, or 3. These tax simulators can help you understand how much your employee might need to pay for their taxes. Additional details about taxes in France can be found here.

Health insurance and social security in France

France has a renowned public healthcare system that covers a significant portion of medical expenses. Expats in France who work and pay social security contributions are entitled to healthcare benefits, including access to medical services and coverage for expenses.

Any company employing an individual in France must complete a pre-recruitment declaration (DPAE) to the local URSSAF, the French governing body collecting social security and family allowance contributions. Once they register for social security, employees will receive a social security number and an electronic registration card, the Vitale card ("Carte Vitale"). Coverage will begin from the start date of the employment contract.

It's common for expats who move to France to also have "mutuelle," or private health insurance, to supplement their coverage. There are a variety of plans to choose from, all varying in coverage and cost, making it essential to research and choose a plan that meets individual needs.

Some visas require individuals to obtain healthcare in France prior to applying for it. See here for the required documents and addresses based on the type of visa.

Moving to France: Tax & social security ID

FAQs for expat life in France

Do you have more questions as you move employees to France? We've got answers.

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