France

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Watch out for extra fees!
In your accommodation, you will have to pay gas, electricity, water and some other external fees. About the electricity and the gas, after subscribing to a contract, you will receive a bill every 2 months. It can be paid by bank transfer each month. The contract will cost you around 40€, and it’s not included in the rent. About the water, you have to pay it each month. The meter is checked once per year and the bill will be adjusted according to your own use. The other fee is the housing tax and the one on housing trash. Known as council tax in some countries, students are exempt from this in the UK, but sadly not in France.

 

Going back home?
If you want to leave your accommodation before the official date written in your contract, you have to send a “recommended letter” (“lettre deommandée avec accusé de reception”) one month before leaving your place. Be careful, the landlords will not give you the rent back if you’ve already paid it.

At the end of the academic year, when you leave your accommodation, you have to:

  •      Read the electricity and waters meters and close them.
  •      Inform your insurance company about your check out date.
  •      Arrange your check out with the landlord to return the keys.

Please note that you will fill the French Social Insurance form only when you arrive in your city. For non EU students: A translated birth certificate is mandatory for the French social security application and it must be in French. You do not need to submit the birth certificate with other application documents at the same time, just remember to bring it with you when you come to France.

 

A financial support for housing that you’ll love!
In France, if you rent a private room or an apartment, you may be able to qualify for financial aid. Please visit CAF to find out whether you are eligible for the financial support of “Aide Personnalisée au Logement” (APL). This personal housing allowance is issued by the “Caisse d’Allocation Familiale” (CAF). And no worries, we can provide you a guide to help you in English and Spanish.

If eligible, you will need to gather all necessary documents (passport,rental contract, French student card, translated birth certificate, social security card, three passport photos, a letter from your parents ensuring financial support, and an “OFII Stamp” from the French prefecture in Nantes) and submit it to the CAF offices.

To benefit from the student housing help, you have to:

  • Be the tenant of an accommodation (at least 9m²).
  • The accommodation should be your main accommodation, established in the rental contract.
  • Have a student visa with the OFII mentioned.

 

Do not forget insurance
Health insurance in France may be very different from the insurance you have at home, and requirements and procedures vary based on the length of your stay, your age, your home country, and whether or not you are a full-time student.

Generally, degree-seeking students in France are required to participate in the French social security system, which costs about €200 per year and includes basic health insurance. Different requirements exist for students from other countries within the EU and students who are over the age of 28.

Exchange students: If they stay in France for more than 3 months, non-European exchange students are required to enroll in the French health insurance plan provided through your school or university. If you are from the EU, don’t forget to bring your European Health card.

In order to obtain a student visa, you will have to provide proof of purchase of travel insurance, liability insurance, and health insurance that will be valid for the entire duration of your stay in France. The French consulate will ask to see photocopies of the insurance policy as well as the accompanying documents that highlight the coverage.

 

Other details to consider

There are a lot of details to keep in mind as you prepare to travel to France and start your courses at your school or university! Therefore we have compiled a checklist of important details to consider before your departure for a smooth and worry-free journey:

  • Photocopy your passport and student visa; keep a copy for safe keeping with someone you trust in your home country.
  • Scan important documents and e-mail them to yourself before you leave. (Passport, student visa, visa application, university acceptance letter, birth certificate, travel insurance documentation, etc.)
  • Have your birth certificate professionally translated into French. This will be necessary for obtaining government aid for housing (CAF).
  • If you are renting a flat or living in a private residence hall, your landlord may require a “Financial Guarantee” form. This is a document that confirms that your parents or a guardian will provide you with a certain amount of money each month so that you will be able to pay rent on time.
  • Bring along one or two power adaptors. They are relatively expensive to purchase in France.
  • Have some passport-sized photos of yourself handy. You may need to use them for membership cards (e.g. Carte 12-25).
  • If you wear glasses, be sure to bring your prescription with you in case you need them replaced. If you wear contact lenses, it will be less expensive to bring along a supply of lenses that will last you throughout your stay in France.
  • If you take any prescription medication, it is best to ask your doctor for an advance supply to last for your entire stay in France. Some prescriptions may not be available in France.

 

French bank accounts

Your French debit card is known as a “Carte Bleue”. You will not be charged for withdrawing money from other financial institutions. Your debit card works as a VISA or a MasterCard. Your debit card should work throughout Europe.

To open a bank account in France, you have to show:

  •    A copy of your passport.
  •    A proof of residence (rental contract).
  •    Your student card to receive student offers.

Depending on the type of account you choose to open, you will be required to pay an annual fee between €20-60.

Once you have signed up for an account:

  • Within one week, you will receive a letter in the mail with your PIN number.
  • Within two weeks, you should receive a letter with your online banking information.
  • Within one month, you will receive a letter advising that your debit card has arrived at the bank and is ready for you to pick up.

Here we go, you now know all the info about your stay in France!

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