Guide to Health Insurance for Long Stay Visa in France

Originally posted on & updated on 10th May, 2024

Starting a new life in France is an exciting prospect but many aspects require careful consideration for families and foreigners wanting to make the move and enjoy the good life in this wonderful country. In this short guide, we provide an overview of the health insurance requirements for long-stay visa holders in France.

Most visas require travel insurance to protect from potential misadventures and subsequent costs while travelling in France and around Europe. The health insurance contract for a long-stay visa depends on the purpose of the visa, for tourism, family reunions, or temporary work.

The aim of this guide is to provide you with the advice reqiored to navigate the French healthcare and medical support system with confidence.

Guide for Non-EU citizens Moving to France

If you’re a non-EU citizen planning to live, work, study, or seek permanent residency in France, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa. If your stay in the country is less than 90 days, you do not need a visa. However, if you plan on staying longer, you must apply for a long-stay visa in advance.

Research the French consulate or embassy in your home country responsible for visa applications. Then prepare all required documents, which typically include the application form, passport photos, proof of travel insurance, proof of accommodation, and financial statements.

You can apply for most visas online or at the French embassy. We have previously provided tips and advice for post-Brexit Brits, as well as American and Australian visa applicants. Learn more and apply for Long Stay Visas on the French government website.

It is important to note that those travelling to France with long-stay visas must have health insurance policies that meet French requirements. They cannot rely on a Schengen private insurance cover.

Healthcare Cover for Long Stays (VLS-T)

VLS-T act as a preliminary visa that allows you to enter France legally. You will later be required to apply for a residence permit, commonly referred to as a “carte de séjour,” which corresponds to your specific long-term purpose (e.g., student, employee, family member).

For Brits looking to spend between 90 to 180 days a year in France, the new instructions on Temporary Long Stay Visitor Visas (VLS-T), are that the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are accepted.

You will be required to provide a valid GHIC or EHIC copy. Currently, valid EHICs can still be used by UK nationals living in the UK to receive free (or discounted) medical treatment in EU countries and Switzerland.

British travellers can use the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to receive state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. If you possess a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), it remains valid until its expiry date. Once the card expires, it needs to be replaced by a GHIC card.

If you don’t hold a UK-GHIC or valid EHIC, you will need to provide private health insurance, which must cover the full requested long-stay visa, up to 6 months (VLS-T).

Health Insurance for Longer Stays (VLS-TS Visas)

If you plan to stay over 180 days in France with a VLS-TS, you must have health insurance that covers the entire duration of the visa, up to one year. VLS-TS is also a Long Stay Visa for France, but has a special feature: it acts as both a long-stay visa and a residence permit (VLS-TS stands for Visa de Long Séjour valant pour Titre de Séjour). After obtaining a VLS-TS, you won’t have to reapply for a new permit upon arrival for a long-term stay.

Following new directives on Long Stay Visitor Visas (VLS-TS), a valid S1 Form is accepted as proof of medical coverage. The S1 Form is used to transfer your healthcare coverage from your home country to France if you or a family member are an EU/EEA/Swiss national.

This means you and your family will be entitled to receive healthcare in France. You will need to contribute to some of your medical costs, just like other French residents. Once you have your S1 form, you must register it with CPAM or Ameli, the local health authorities.

If you don’t hold a S1 Form, you will need to provide private Health insurance for the full duration of your long-stay visa and cover all medical expenses, including hospital costs. We recommend that you initiate the process by contacting your home country’s healthcare system and providers.

TOP TIP - You should also consider top-up insurance, a ‘mutuelle’, most French people use one or more. This will cover all or part of your medical costs that are not covered by state repayments, and for dental care, hearing or optician costs for example.

Travel or French Healthcare Insurance?

Travel Insurance covers treatment in the event of an emergency or unforeseen circumstances while you and your family are travelling or holidaying in France. Travel insurance typically covers trip cancellations, lost baggage, travel delays, and emergency medical expenses incurred while abroad.

This type of insurance can provide coverage for non-medical incidents such as trip cancellations due to unforeseen events, such as illness or airline strikes. Travel insurance does not substitute for comprehensive private health insurance and may not cover all medical expenses, especially for pre-existing conditions or long-term stays.

Advice for Travellers to France

When visiting France and Europe, travellers should choose insurance that suits their needs and health requirements. This is especially important for people who may have pre-existing conditions or families with young children. There are many articles and topics available on our French blog where you can search by topic, for example; Paris, chateau or driving in France.

Finally we recommend that you take a moment to visit our pages about emergency contact numbers when holidaying or staying in France, as well as learn about the phone system and French telephone numbers before you leave. “Un homme avertit en vaut deux”, as they say…. Bon voyage.

We hope this is useful, for more information visit our main French insurance page, our complete guide to living in France and get in touch by email if you wish to be contacted by one of our experienced English-speaking experts.

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