Health Care and Carte Vitale

Travel Insurance

While you are visiting France on holiday either in your own holiday home or in rented accommodation you must ensure that you have made all the necessary arrangements for emergency health cover.

If you do not have one already, before you leave the UK, you must apply for your European Health Card. This has replaced the E111. This card will entitle you to treatment whilst in Europe. You may need to pay for treatment in some cases, but you will be reimbursed on your return to the UK. This card is NOT a replacement for travel insurance and you must ensure you have adequate cover in place. Many banks and credit cards now offer travel insurance if you have booked using their credit card, or as benefits with certain types of account. Check the small print as these often only cover you for pre-booked accommodation or a limited number of weeks. These types of policy may not be applicable if you plan to spend several months in your own property here.

Residents Health Cover

When you live in France permanently you will need to ensure that you are properly covered in the event of a medical emergency. European law requires that you are capable of either paying your own medical costs, have comprehensive insurance in place or pay into the state system giving you entitlement to a carte vitale and state cover.

Medical insurance is available either as complete cover, known as "From the first Euro" or as top up cover to the state system. This policy is known as a "Mutuelle". Cover "From the first Euro" can be expensive but is essential if you wish to stay in France.

Before you leave the UK check with the Department of Work and Pensions to see if you are entitled to an E106. This certificate gives you entitlement to cover from the UK. The length of cover is dependent on your UK national insurance contributions. If you are still working for a UK company and are being paid by that company you should be entitled to cover. You should also be covered if you are retired or on maternity leave. In certain circumstances your dependents (spouse, children and other dependents) may also be covered. This certificate can take several months to come through so should be applied for several months before you plan to leave.

For further information on living but not working in France click here

For further information on living and working in France click here

If you are employed here by a French based company you will have cotisations automatically deducted from your salary. Once you have reached 40 hours employment in any 1 Callender month or 60 hours in 2 consecutive Callender months you are entitled to health cover for you and your family/dependents.

If you are self employed you will be paying cotisations and this will entitle you to health cover. See "Setting up a business" for more information.

Seasonal work such as apple picking or similar is a good way to get you into the health system for a year. The work often lasts just a few weeks but you can then concentrate finding permenant employment or setting up your business knowing that your medical cover is in place.

Carte Vitale

Your Carte Vitale is issued by the department to who you pay your cotisation and entitles you to reimbursement for 70% of all your medical expenses. When you visit a doctor in France you usually pay the doctor there and then for the consultation. This will usually be reimbursed within 48 hours. You are expected to cover the 30% difference either from your own funds or via top-up insurance or "Mutuelle".

Mutuelle's vary in price depending on the level of cover you opt for. It is not unusual to see mutuelle's being advertised offering cover of 250%. This is because the state has published a table of charges and this is what you pay in government funded establishments. You are, however, entitled to use private clinics and these can be more expensive. You will be refunded the 70% of the government expectation of the cost. The difference is settled by your mutuelle. If you have standard cover you will normally only get back the 30% of the EXPECTED cost, not the actual cost. If you use private services you may need to opt for a mutual offering up to 150% or more reimbursement.

When taking out a Mutuelle look at the facilities in your local area and the charges of those you are likely to be using. Also consider optician and dental costs and if pre-existing conditions are accepted.

Help with Mutuelle costs

If you are on a low income or receiving state benefits you may be entitled to help with costs towards a mutuelle. The table below shows the income thresholds and the amount you could receive. Download a claim form here

Maximum monthly income from 01/01/07
Number of people living in you household Maximum monthly Income
(métropole) Mainland France
Maximum monthly income
(DOM) Overseas territories
1 person 717,88 795,41
2 person 1 076,82 1 193,12
3 person 1 292,18 1 431,74
4 person 1 507,55 1 670,36

From 4 people and for every person in addition.

+ 287,15 + 318,16
Age of beneficiary as of 1st January
Amount of aid
less than 25 years 100 €
From 25 to 59 years 200 €
60 years or older 400 €


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