How to Get Your Securité Sociale & Carte Vitale in France

How to Get Your Securité Sociale & Carte Vitale in France

Once you’ve lived in France for three months and established residency, you’re eligible for French national health coverage — Woohoo! But to reap all the benefits, you’ll first need a numero de securité sociale and a carte Vitale.

I write mainly about the immigration process for American spouses of French citizens — but eligibility for securité sociale health benefits no longer relies on being married to a French person (this status used to be called “Ayant Droit).

Starting January 1, 2016 France put in place a universal system of healthcare called Protection Universelle Maladie (or PUMA) for anyone who works or lives in France. Now everyone who is here for three months or longer and has a proper visa can get a carte Vitale. So I requested my securité sociale benefits as a resident and not as my French husband’s wife. Here’s how I did it.


A few helpful things to know before beginning this process:

  • Sécurité Sociale is the French healthcare system and your numero de sécurité sociale is your ID number only for the healthcare system. (Not to be confused with how your American social security number is used.) You’ll use this at the doctor’s office, dentist, when buying glasses and for other health-related expenses.
  • Carte Vitale is a physical card with a chip in it that you use to pay and identify yourself for healthcare. It has your photo on it as well.
  • This whole process is in French, so if your language skills aren’t good, you’ll likely need someone to help you — either your partner, a good friend or someone you hire.
  • is the website portal for the French health insurance program.
  • CPAM stands for Caisse Primaire d’Assurances Maladie, and is the local department level of the national health insurance adminstration.
  • Unless you are already working in France, you’ll need to live here for three months to establish residency before you apply.
  • You need a French bank account in your name. It is possible to get a sécurité sociale number without one, but you can’t get paid back without one so there’s no point.
  • If you have a job, your company HR department can also likely help you with this process.


First step is to fill out the health benefits application form – formulaires 736 Demande d’ouverture des droits à l’assurance maladie.

Let’s go over each section.

SECTION A: Your personal info
This is pretty straightforward identifying information, but there are a couple lines that could be confusing.
  • The second point asks for your sécurité sociale number, if you have one. You obviously don’t since you’re reading this article, so leave it blank. This form is used for everyone applying for PUMA including people who may already have a number but are changing their status.
  • The third point asks if you have a numero d’allocataire, which is another ID number used for social welfare benefits. You probably don’t have this — just leave it blank.

SECTION B: Your employment status
If you have a job, check the first box and put your title and type of contract. If not, check “sans activité” and move on.

SECTION C: Swearing you filled out your own form
Date and sign (as long as it’s actually you of course). Don’t forget order for dates is DD/MM/YYYY here in Europe.

***TIP: If you don’t have a printer, you can go to a CPAM information point (borne multiservices) and print there.


You need to send a number of documents along with the application form. You can find all the details in French on the second page of the application form, but here it is in plain English:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your visa long séjour valant comme titre de séjour (VLS-TS) — or titre de séjour or carte de séjour or carte de résident depending on what status you have.
  • Birth certificate with apostille. The added apostille means it is certified or authenticated, and this was an extra I had to ask for specifically when I ordered my birth certificate. We did not get the birth certificate translated, we sent it in English. I’ve read that sometimes they ask for a translation later, but they didn’t for me. I also believe they sent it back to us after.
  • If you have a job, you need to send a copy of your employment contract or last payslip.
  • Proof you have lived in France more than three months. This could be a copy of your lease, or three successive energy, phone, internet or water bills in your name, or an attestation d’hébergement from your spouse (or whoever owns the home you live in) saying you live with them. I used the attestation since I didn’t have a job at the time and none of the bills were in my name. If you go that route, also send in a lease or three successive bills in your spouse’s name, as well as a copy of their ID to be safe.
  • Your relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB) so you can get reimbursed. This is your French banking account routing information and should include the IBAN number.

***TIP: If you have questions, contact your LOCAL caisse (department office) that handles where you live (mine is Caisse d’assurance maladie de Paris). If you call the global number it charges you by the minute. There is an international number also if you aren’t in France.


You have to mail all of these documents in, it is not possible to do it via email. It is also possible to apply in person at your local CPAM office.

If you go the mail route, you must send everything to your LOCAL CPAM office. Click here and then put your zip code into the pop up to find yours.

If you live in Paris, this is the address: Assurance Maladie de Paris, 75948 PARIS CEDEX 19

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You can expect to receive a temporary number first and relatively quickly — mine came in three weeks. You can use this immediately to get reimbursements, but you will have pay in advance and do everything manually on paper (using une feuille de soins). You can not set up a personal Ameli account with this number.

2-6 months after applying you can expect to receive your permanent number. I got mine about 3.5 months later. Now you can open an Ameli account and request your physical carte Vitale.

NOTE: I have heard that you will get a number quicker if you have a job because your employer sends a letter to the caisse saying you work for them and requesting the number. This could be an expat legend, but I got my permanent number just a few weeks after starting a job, so I’m inclined to believe it.


You have two options for requesting your carte Vitale once you have a permanent number.

  1. When they send you the permanent number, they will include a paper form for you to fill out, attach a photo to and send back to request your carte Vitale.
  2. Open an Ameli account, then wait for your temporary access code to come in the mail (yes, they have to mail it to you). Once you have access to your account you can upload a picture for the card and request it directly in the portal.

It took me about a month to get my carte in the mail.

NOTE: Before you get your physical card you can still get reimbursed but you have to mail in a form (une feuille de soins), while with the carte Vitale it is automatic.


You can also order a carte européenne d’assurance maladie (European health insurance card) through your Ameli account as well. This is useful for if you travel in the EU and ever get sick.

To be reimbursed the full amount possible, you’ll need to declare a médecin traitant (a.k.a. a general practitioner or primary care doctor). For helping finding one check out this article.

And finally, if you have additional health insurance (a mutuelle) through work or private coverage, you need to link that in your Amelie account as well.

Did this article help you obtain your securité sociale? Please say thank you by buying me a coffee to help keep the blog going!

68 thoughts on “How to Get Your Securité Sociale & Carte Vitale in France”

      • I leave all needed papers to CPAM in September 2019 and still no temporary number or a carte vitale. They’ve asked for more information to proceed. Several times.
        I’m out of the swedish system since July 2019. And I really need it. I’m diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis since 1998 and my health is getting worse.
        Who can help me?

    • I dont really understand . Why does the CPAM need my ribs? Is it to collect my money every month ,i want to really kwn because am confused.

      • To send you reimbursements for healthcare. You pay for healthcare coverage in your taxes, but sometimes doctors are paid upfront by you and then you are reimbursed by SS.

  • I just dived into all of this as I’m still preparing to move back with my US husband. I read tought that if a french resident can prove he/she is hosted, has no resources, is coming back from expatriation and not vacation, it could avoid having to wait 3 month to be eligible for a few social help. But I don’t if a foreign spouse would have the same eligibility.

  • Quick question: Did you get something from the prefecture for your spouse’s attestation or did you just have him write and sign a simple statement and send with ID and/or L’acte du Mariage? Big thanks for this blog!!! xx

  • Thank you for this clear and well written article. There is one further point, however, that I would ask you to clarify. Is the carte vitale free of charge (apart from the taxes one pays to the French government) or is there an additional premium? I have a very good coverage from my former employer at a very reasonable cost, but I need to pay everything up front and request reimbursement. It would be nice for once when asked for my carte vitale to actually take the real thing, rather than my credit card, out of my wallet. My current coverage is considered secondary, so I would still be able to claim reimbursement on the portion not covered by the French.

    • Hi Jef — yes it is free to get the securite sociale and the carte vitale. Once you have coverage, the percentage that is covered depends on your age, income, what service it is and whether you have declared a primary care doctor. If you have a “mutuelle” (additional private French insurance, often through work) you can connect that coverage to your securite sociale on the ameli portal, so your other insurance company can see what wasn’t covered by securite sociale. This helps streamline the process.

      • I wanted to thank you again for the clear directions you gave. My attestation de droits à l’assurance maladie arrived in the post without any further ado after my first application. The approval took about 4 1/2 months, slightly longer than the two-three weeks I have read on some sites, but it is now choses faites. Best wish for 2019.

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. In my experience (recently PACing and changing my drivers licence) administration in France is very good at telling you which documents you are missing from any application rather than advising you what you need! This has saved me hours of research and dead ends. I’ll be sharing this link with many expat friends. I’ll come back and share the timelines. Just hope it all goes through before Brexit!!!!

  • Thank for sharing that but I still have one question. If I already put the documents in securité social in France to do carte vital and I still do not get temporary number yet but I got a job to work now and they need my number of card vital, so what I should I do?

    • Have you asked if your employer can contact the security sociale department and ask for it directly? I’ve heard this can help sped up the process. I didn’t have mine when I first stated working but got it shortly after.

  • Thank you! So helpful! Just a quick question about filling the form… How did you fill in the name line… Is it just with maiden lastname?

    • Hi Lina, it says underneath the name line to put your last name at birth (maiden name) first, then it is optional to put your “nom d’usage” (married name) ; then your first name and any additional legal names (middle, second, third)

  • Hi , interesting site I’m currently having a nightmare trying to get Carte vitale as my partner and I are early retired and not entitled to the form s1 we have had to provide 5yrs edf bills and fill in various other forms including proving our incomes and private pension . I expressed dismay that we needed to do this and not just 3 months bills as evidence but was told this was what should happen , just as in your case my conjoint is not on the bills so I will ad the letter you gave shown . Have you heard of all this complication before ?

  • I have read at the following link that there is an age limit of 65 years on accessing/obtaining a Carte Vitale – noting that the info contained in the article says there is no age limit but further on in the article states….Expats who are living in France can apply to receive state health insurance in France under the new PUMA program if they have lived in France for less than five years, do not have paid employment, are under the national retirement age of 65 years …….

  • can i ask, my son had a carte vital when we moved here 13 years ago, after schooling he moved back to uk, however has come back ( hes now a young man 26) and we need to re new his card, do you have any advice on this ? PLEASE
    P;S; He has a job in the uk, but works from home? how do we explain this?
    thank you and kindest regards E

  • Hi

    Thanks ever so much for the infos .
    A bit of a long shot if you can help me in my situation .
    I was previously attached to my husbands card and now the new system is removing adults from synced secu accounts to give everyone a separate secu account –
    But i try to put my husband’s social secu number when i tried to create an ameli account and it didn’t work.
    Should i inquire for my own social secu number?

    Many thanks

  • really clear and helpful. Reading through the comments, I came across an age limit matter. Is there an age limit for getting coverage? The comment mentioned 65, and I’m 74. Thanks for your reply Richard H

  • Dilemma: My Husband and I have been living in France since 2002, have Cartes Vitales and since the stupid Referendum, also Cartes de Sejour. We went to CPAM to apply for an EHIC but they said there was a problem because we were listed as Migrants. We believe that we can’t get one from the UK either. Do we have no choice but to take out private insurance for a short upcoming holday – our first in 14 years!?

  • Very helpful article, thank you so much.

    Very quick question, for the birth certificate, should I end the original one or can I send a copy ?

  • Thank you for this! Like you, I’m American married to a French citizen. I sat on this issue because I was told my employer would handle it for me. Nine months later, I’ve received nothing from CPAM – not even a temp number – and I’m no longer with the employer as it was a temporary job. My employer claims to have sent off the request, but CPAM insists they have no record of me. I’m having to now apply from scratch and this is the perfect template (they don’t do a good job of telling us how to apply for this during the civics training – which I think may be on purpose, but that’s a whole other issue). Thank you so much!

  • Hi Charli,

    Thank you! What options of health insurance do you recommend for the 3 month period you have to wait until you are granted la securité social? Did you have health insurance during this time? Did you purchase an international insurance policy for 3 months before leaving the US so that you had some coverage?



  • ARGH! I’ve been in France for almost 9 years. FINALLY applied for my carte Vital. Filled out all forms correctly and provided ALL required documents.
    After three months the entire application was sent back to me with a letter asking for proof I had paid tax Habitation since my arrival and asking for tax returns. I took all this back to my local CPAM office with proof of Tax Habitation payments, and was told by a VERY (VERY) rude woman that I did not qualify; she did call the woman (CPAM office in Nantes) that had rejected my application and sent it back – and had a long conversation. No other explanation. I am going to speak with an attorney.

  • Thank you for this clear and well written article. Really helpful. Few question, copy of passport: the passport with shngen visa that i used when i arrived here has expired i have a renewed passport, should i send them the copy of the renewed passport? Or the passport when i arrived here? Do you i need to send all the pages of the passport or only some pages? Merci

    • Hi Don, I believe you’ll want to send the valid one, but you can always send both with a note explaining, to be sure. You only need to copy the pages with your photo/info/signature.

  • Hi!

    Thank you for your article and the information! I have a few questions for you. I am a Dutch student living in the Netherlands and I am doing an internship in Paris from September 2019 on. For the company I am going to work for, I will need to register for a temporary securite sociale to receive my salary. However, as I understand that CPAM offices are only based in France, is it true that the only way I can register for it is to go to one of the offices in France? Or is there also a website where I can register for it? Even on the ameli website I can’t find the register applications for a numero de security sociale. I truly appreciate your answer!

    Best regards,


  • Thank you so much for all the great information. I have a follow up question about my situation, that I can’t seem to find covered anywhere.

    I previously lived in France for a very short stay. In 2015, I was there for 8 months, but that was long enough for me to get my official SSN, and to have my Carte Vitale issued — I still have a FR retirement account ;-). Anyway, my family is moving back, for longer this time…

    Here are my questions
    1. is the SSN I obtained in 2015 going to be the same this time around? ie. I can skip that process…
    2. how can I request a new Carte Vitale be issued? I no longer have the old one (lost). … or, do I need to some how request it be renewed? or something else?


  • Hello and thank you for the info.
    Is there any way to track the card or know if the submission of my documents were ok?

  • Hello,

    Thank you for you article. It was very informative , I only have one question. Can I use the original copy of my birth certificate with an Apostille that is within 3 months or do I need a certified copy with an Apostille. Its kind of a hastle to get a copy in France and my mother can get the Apostille of the original. I know she can request a certified copy but you can only request a copy from the county of which you where born so I thought this might be a good solution.

    • Hi Zakiah, I never recommend people use originals because I have heard stories of documents getting lost or not being returned. So that is always a risk.

    • The instructions for the form I downloaded yesterday ask for a birth certificate with an official stamp, if possible–no mention of the apostille. That makes a huge difference for me since I am in France without the document. After receiving a copy of my birth certificate from Washington, DC, where I was born, I would have to send the original to a different office in DC for the apostille, an office that gets terrible marks for efficiency.

  • Hi, thanks for all the information! Do you know if I can apply for this with a long stay visitor visa? Or do I have to wait for a residence permit?


  • I have dual nationality french and american. I have a french SSN as well an American one. I worked in france for 3 1/2 yrs as a teenager. I worked 30+ years in US. I am 72 yrs old and receive American SS retirement income. I plan to move back to france permanently with my sister. How do I get a carte Vitale and do I get a “very” small retirement income from french SS. I’ve asked la mairie in Bergerac and consulates in both New Orleans and Houston. They don’t know !!!

  • Hi. Thanks for a clearly written article. I have had a Carte Vitale for many years and under an S1 for 10 yrs + as a dependant of my wife. Unfortunately she died recently but I now have a new S1 that arrived today in my name. As I have/had a Carte Vitale do I already have a SS number . If so where will I find it, or do I need to apply for one and at what point in the system do I send them my Si?
    Thanks for any help you can give me.
    Regards John

  • It is thanks to this clear, concisely written article that I feel my application is progressing.

    I have lived in France for six years in March and tried several times to apply for my social security number and Carte Vitale, each time without success. The UK offices told me I was not able to get an S1 form which made my application impossible, it was the English speaking CPAM line that advised me that a letter of refusal was acceptable as proof of my being in the British system.

    I have now found much of the paperwork in English (a great help) and hopefully will be sending my application in next week, when the letter arrives from the UK.

    Thank you for this blog post.

  • Hello. I wanna ask you I need to prove that i have been living for three months ? Is it necessary ? or accommodation certificate is enough ? without 3 months cant i apply to that ?

  • Thanks for the detailed writing on the process. Saved me a lot of time trying to understand and prepare myself before filing it.
    I have a query related to the documents needed to be attached.
    I have English Birth cert with apostile , do I need to translate this to French ?
    Do I need to send original birth certificate or COPY will be enough with french translation ?

    Appreciate your help.
    Goutham S

    • Hi Goutham, I did not get my U.S. birth certificate translated for this, they accepted it in English. You should never send or give them your original birth certificate in case they lose it. I ordered an official copy from the state I was born in with apostile and gave them that.

  • Wow, this is such a well written article. I have a question, maybe you know.. I have a carte vitale and a registered Premier doctor, but I am not working. I have never worked in France (can’t find a job yet!). My husband is working and covered by a mutuelle. If I decide to not be covered by the same mutuelle, how much reimbursement can I expect? Would it be 70% or nothing at all? Also, would I have to do any additional steps to get reimbursed (without a private mutuelle)? Thank you.

  • This is a great article. I am joining my EU National husband in Paris from the US. He has already resided in Paris, but this is my first time moving there an applying for all the paperwork. I will most likely not have my Carte de Sejour before the three month period. Given that might be the case, am I still able to apply? Thank you

  • Hi Charli,

    Thank you for the really good post.

    I have one question. How you managed to get RIB if you didn’t have a job and incomes to show for the bank?

    Best regards,

  • Hello, I have found your blog and it is being very helpful. Thanks! I am currently working on filling out the form, do you know if I should put,,SANS activite…I teletravail for a company in the USA and I thought about just marking AUTRE and for the comments put “teletravail pour une societe Americaine”.

  • Hi – is having a Carte De Sejour (or equivalent residency permit) an absolute pre-requisite for applying for healthcare? I am still waiting for the Brexit portal to open to submit my application but was trying to progress other French admin in parallel but looks like I need the carte de sejour for the CPAM process?

  • Thank you this was so helpful. I got a question:
    I got my securite social number and a mail for obtaining my carte vitale. I’ll have to send them a photo and an ID either through my ameli account or by mail. However, I can’t open my ameli account for some reason. It says “Your current situation does not allow you to immediately create your ameli account.” what does this mean? My account won’t be available immediately but it will take a few days..?

    Thank you

  • I opened a bank account at N26 with a british passport, do you know if it matters when applying that N26 isnt a french bank? Is it essential that the bank be french?

  • I was on deputation in France for the period Jan2018-Feb 2019 for a company in France. I had don my SSN and Carte vitale during that time. I cam back this year as a student in à University in France. Now when i am going to apply for SSN it is showing that I have an existing account which was opened during my last period of stay. Please like if tou know how I can change the situation of my carte vital to student.

  • Hello, I found your article really helpful and reassuring for when I applied for my carte Vitale. I thought that I would share my experience on timings in 2022.

    I registered my freelance business in France at the beginning of April. 1 month later I received the health benefits application form (Demande d’ouverture des droits à l’assurance maladie) and applied. 3 months later I received a letter to apply for carte Vitale. I had to fill out the paper form as I was told I wasn’t eligible to make an ameli account yet to apply online. I then received carte Vitale in the post a month later. So overall it took approx 5 months. I never received a temporary number after filling the health benefits application form weirdly.

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