Short-term stays in France
EU/EAA citizens: If you are citizen of one of EU/EEA countries (which includes all 28 EU members, Iceland, Lichtenstain and Norway) and moving temporarily to France or looking for cover at the start of longer stay, you are automatically entitled to free basic health care in France due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. Since the 1st June 2004, European citizens who are travelling within the European Economic Area are given a European Health Insurance Card, which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance during their stay in a Member State. Note that this health card is not an alternative to travel insurance, so private costs are not covered by this card.
Non EU/EAA citizens: If moving temporarily from a non-EU/EEA country to France, check with your relevant local agency whether there is a bilateral agreement that will cover you in France. These normally cover only limited urgency healthcare and you are advised to get comprehensive private insurance. If you get private insurance, make sure that they provide cover in France, have a local office or partner and read the small print so you know what's covered (and what's not!).
Being resident in France
If you live (or you are going to live) in France, you should subscribe to the French Social security system, which includes also the health insurance. For more information, consult our guide to the French Social security system.
If you are under the French Social security, your dependants (spouse, children under 20, partner, and other dependants living with the insured) are also automatically covered unless they are self-employed. Some foreign students might benefit from a special Student social security coverage.
Subscription to the general French social security system (except in some specific cases) gives rights only to the basic health insurance coverage which reimburses usually only part of medical expenses.
For more information on expat health and related issues in France, visit our expat health blog at ExpatHealth.org.