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Moving to France – What You Need to Know

Moving to France – What You Need to Know

Posted on 25th August 2015

Whether you’ve been offered a fantastic new job in the heart of Paris or are dreaming of retirement in the South of France, moving abroad can be an exciting, exhilarating, exhausting and stressful time! In order for you to fully enjoy your emigration, we’ve compiled an easy-to-read guide so you can get the basics in order.

Language & Culture

The first step you should take in your relocation to another country is to ensure that you speak the language fluently. This is important as it enables you to see that all the formalities of your move run smoothly, but also to ensure that you can fully immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of your new home. Remember, you aren’t just moving to a warmer, more picturesque version of England, the French culture is very different and the locals will have been raised with different morals, values and manners than your own. You need to respect this and make an effort to embrace their way of living. Take as many French classes as you can before leaving so that you are up to at least a conversational standard.


If you are not an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa which costs about £70. The application process can take an average of 2-4 weeks and will have to be renewed annually until you are granted permanent residency, which can take anywhere from 3-10 years.

Medical Insurance

The French national healthcare system is much more efficient and organised than the NHS, however this superior service comes at a price. Whilst some of the costs of your medical care can be claimed back, they do have to be paid in advance by you and there is no guarantee on how much you will be reimbursed. Your contribution to the social security system, which is matched by your employer, allows you access to a whole range of medical treatments, but the state only pays between 65-90% of these costs. The remaining cost can either be covered by you personally or you can take out a top-up insurance known as  ‘complémentaire’ policy. The premiums are relatively low and could be a worthwhile investment if you think you might need frequent doctors, dentist or hospital appointments.

Register Your Car

If you plan on taking your car with you, you will need to register for a ‘certificat d’immatriculation’ which can be difficult to obtain and requires a lot of paperwork. The process differs from region to region so you’ll need to locate the relevant information from DRIRE (Directions Régionales de l’Industrie, de la Recherche et de l’Environnement). Normally, you will require a completed application form (the Demande de Certificat d’Immatriculation d’un Véhicule), the original bill of sale, registration details, a quitus de TVA (available from the tax office) to prove your car is exempt from VAT, a letter from the French head office of your vehicles manufacturer that states your car is approved for France (you may be charged a fee for this which can be as high as 110 euros) and a contrôle technique certificate, which can cost around 80 euros. Bear in mind that to pass your contrôle technique certificate you will have to have your headlights modified to suit driving on the right side of the road. Finally, your completed dossier can be submitted, along with a final fee. This amount depends on the age and horsepower of your car. This can be a very expensive procedure so keep track on your fees to assess whether taking your own car is worthwhile.


You can only take 5 animals, of all species, to France with you and they must be at least 3 months old, vaccinated against rabies and microchipped.

HM Revenue & Customs

You need to notify the government and HMRC that you are relocating. If you are retiring, you will need to make the necessary steps to ensure that your pension can be paid to you in France.

Have Your Belongings Moved

Of course, besides all of the paperwork involved in emigrating, you also need to ensure that your belongings are safely packed up and moved to your new home.

Whittle International Movers believe that the key to a successful move is planning, so our expert team provide attentive detail to all aspects of relocations to ensure that you have a smooth and stress-free transition to your new home, and new life.

For more information, you can get a quote or call us today.

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