Your arrival in France

Administrative tips for international students

It’s official – you’ve arrived in France! Here is what you need to think of …

To make the very most of your new student life here, you must nevertheless comply with a certain number of regulations in order to then get well and truly settled. Here’s all you need to know.


If you are able to withdraw cash in France with your bank card, then take advantage by taking out some cash from the ATMs available in the majority of train stations and airports. 

Once you have arrived at your accommodation and completed the necessary formalities in order to get settled, you will have earned a few hours’ rest and the chance to discover your new surroundings. So take a breather and then get started – only a few steps remain before your stay in France is truly up and running.


The first few days/week 1

Over the first few days following your arrival in France you will have to complete a series of basic administrative tasks.

  • Pay your Student and Campus Life Contribution (CVEC)

The CVEC is a mandatory financial contribution that all students enrolled on initial education programs within a French higher education institution (private or public) must make. Payment must be made to the CROUS in order to maintain social, health, cultural and sporting assistance to all students. Only two types of student are exempt from this payment: 

Holders of a means-tested scholarship managed by the CROUS or a regional scholarship;

Beneficiaries of refugee status, subsidiary protection or officially registered asylum seekers.

Payment of this apparent formality is a priority as it is required in order to be able to enroll in your chosen Pass-world competitive entrance exam school. The CVEC costs €90 per year. You can pay online here, or in cash at a post office.

Proof of payment (or exemption, for relevant student cases) must be kept safely as it will be requested when enrolling in your chosen establishment.

  • Finalizing your enrollment

Go to the International Relations office of your school, where you will find all the information needed concerning your studies in France. Then go to the enrollment office in order to finalize your enrollment and pay your tuition fees partially or entirely if you are not exempt and have not already done so. Your institution will then deliver your tuition certificate and student ID card. 

  • Residence permit application

This next step only applies if you arrived in France on a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit, which must be authorized by the French Immigration and Integration Office. You have 3 months in which to take the required measures but should do so as soon as possible. This step is mandatory in order to register for Social Security and to be able to travel freely during your stay.   

The procedure (which is in the process of being simplified) is currently as follows: 

Complete and send back the French Immigration and Integration Office certificate request form by post to the nearest French Immigration and Integration regional headquarters

In return you will receive proof of submission of your application, plus an invitation to the immigration office in order to complete your visa application. You will need to bring with you: 

Your written invitation;

Your passport and visa;

Proof of address in France (rent receipt, lease, water or electricity bill, accommodation certification); 

ID photo;

Revenue stamps (physical copies to be purchased from a tobacconist-newsagent) or their electronic equivalent along with proof of online payment (€60-240 according to the case in 2018);

A medical certificate with an immigration office-recognized doctor within your country.

Following this invitation, the immigration office will issue a certification stamp, to be attached to your passport

  • Register to the Social Security

If you are a European student, being a holder of a “Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie” (CAEM) is sufficient (cf. our article “Preparing your project”).

If you are a non-European student you must sign up to the general French Social Security scheme via the health insurance website dedicated to foreign students. This step is mandatory but free of charge and must be taken as soon as you have registered with your institution of choice and completed your visa application. This health insurance policy will grant you the “carte vitale” health card, which you must use every time you consult a doctor or chemist in order to receive reimbursement of your medical costs. 

Our advice.

In order to receive a higher reimbursement you may sign up for a private top-up health policy (or “mutuelle”) via student organizations, insurance companies or banks. Before committing to this kind of policy make sure you compare all the available deals. Also ensure that the private policy you choose includes civil responsibility that is applicable to your personal and student life. The aim is to be covered by your choice of policy both where you study and where you live.   

  • Open a bank account

Another essential formality for your peace of mind and comfort is to open a bank account. Compare offers as most offer advantages to students. When opening your account you will be issued a bank card, a check book and your bank account reference numbers, which you will require in order to set up direct debits for your telephone and electricity contracts and leisure activities, as well as reimbursement of your health costs and, in some cases, receipt of your scholarship.   

To open a bank account you will need to provide proof of your address as well as ID and a social security certificate (or your student card)

And so here you are now a fully-blown student! Welcome to France – you are going to love your stay here! 

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