Accessing public healthcare

How to register with Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie

Under France's universal public healthcare scheme, Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA), residents are covered for 70% of their medical costs. Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) is France’s primary health insurance fund. To get the 70% coverage, you need to register with CPAM.

Accessing public healthcare

If you are employed in France, you generally won’t have to register for public healthcare yourself: most employers take care of it for their employees. It is your responsibility to check that your employer has done this for you. If your employer does not sort it out, you must register with CPAM yourself within eight days of starting work.

The system for self-employed workers is currently in a period of transition (2018-2020). Previously, public health insurance for self-employed workers was provided by the Régime Social des Indépendants (RSI). The RSI is now being taken over by CPAM. Self-employed expats relocating to France should register with CPAM like everyone else.

How to register

To register for public health insurance, you need to apply directly at your local CPAM office  with the following documents:

  • Printed health insurance application form .
  • Birth certificate (plus those of all family members with you).
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable).
  • Proof of identity (passport/ID card).
  • Visa (if applicable).
  • Proof of residency (utility bills, rental agreement, etc.).
  • Bank account details (RIB - relevé dídentité bancaire).

Depending on your situation, you may need to provide some additional documentation:

  • Employed:
    • employment contract
    • proof of income (payslips)
  • Retired citizens of an EU/EEA member country who receive a pension from home country:
  • Students:
    • proof of university enrollment

(Not all students are eligible for public healthcare under PUMA, check if you are here)

You will need to get all documents in your native language translated by a court-certified French translator before you take them to a CPAM office.

Carte Vitale

After your application is accepted, you will get a Carte Vitale (green card). This card contains all of your social security information and must be presented to your doctor in order to claim reimbursements.

Unfortunately, the card can take a long time to process. During this processing time, you are advised to ask CPAM for an attestation de couverture sociale or a temporary French health insurance card. Both of these will allow you to claim reimbursements while you wait for your Carte Vitale.

If you are employed in France, you generally won’t have to register for public healthcare yourself: most employers take care of it for their employees. It is your responsibility to check that your employer has done this for you. If your employer does not sort it out, you must register with CPAM yourself within eight days of starting work.

The system for self-employed workers is currently in a period of transition (2018-2020). Previously, public health insurance for self-employed workers was provided by the Régime Social des Indépendants (RSI). The RSI is now being taken over by CPAM. Self-employed expats relocating to France should register with CPAM like everyone else.

How to register

To register for public health insurance, you need to apply directly at your local CPAM office  with the following documents:

  • Printed health insurance application form .
  • Birth certificate (plus those of all family members with you).
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable).
  • Proof of identity (passport/ID card).
  • Visa (if applicable).
  • Proof of residency (utility bills, rental agreement, etc.).
  • Bank account details (RIB - relevé dídentité bancaire).

Depending on your situation, you may need to provide some additional documentation:

  • Employed:
    • employment contract
    • proof of income (payslips)
  • Retired citizens of an EU/EEA member country who receive a pension from home country:
  • Students:
    • proof of university enrollment

(Not all students are eligible for public healthcare under PUMA, check if you are here)

You will need to get all documents in your native language translated by a court-certified French translator before you take them to a CPAM office.

Carte Vitale

After your application is accepted, you will get a Carte Vitale (green card). This card contains all of your social security information and must be presented to your doctor in order to claim reimbursements.

Unfortunately, the card can take a long time to process. During this processing time, you are advised to ask CPAM for an attestation de couverture sociale or a temporary French health insurance card. Both of these will allow you to claim reimbursements while you wait for your Carte Vitale.

Further reading

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