You have chosen a university program in France and you are going to spend the next years of your life here. Just because you will live abroad does not mean that you have healthcare coverage. Or do you? The French social protection scheme is based on the principle of solidarity, so young people attending schools or universities are not neglected. As a matter of fact, they are covered by the local Security System. If you will be attending University of Paris 8, you will receive health insurance through CPAM 93. You do not need private health insurance. If you are coming to the French Hexagon, it is advisable to learn a little more about health insurance.  

The right to French social security

Foreign students originating from countries outside of the European Economic Area or from Sweden, under the age of 28 at the time of their university application, and who do not dispose of an European Health Insurance Card, are required to sign up for a student mutuelle, such as SMEREP or LMDE. If the application was sent online, the subscription to the social security is realized online too. On the other hand, foreign students with a regular residence in France are entitled to health coverage under the universal health care mandate called Protection Universelle Maladie. The basic public health insurance covers the cost of medically necessary health care.

Obtaining French healthcare system coverage  

Enrolling in the Protection Universelle Maladie is something that you will have to do for yourself. You can subscribe for healthcare coverage via your local CPAM (Caisse Primare d’Assurance Maladie). If you will be living in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, go to the closest agency and fill out the form. You can find the Caisse Primare d’Assurance Maladie near you on the Internet. To prove you are eligible for health insurance, you will need these documents:

  • Copy of your passport or your identity card
  • Copy of your enrollment certificate in the university program
  • Copies of utility bills proving you reside continuously on the territory
  • Birth certificate with official translation


If your application is approved, your basic medical expenses will be covered. If you get sick or if you get involved in an accident, you will be covered. You will need to provide the above-mentioned documents, but you will also have to register with a doctor. You have the freedom to choose any healthcare professional you want. Once you have registered with a doctor, you have to declare him/her to the Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie.

Foreign students in France get a Carte Vitale

After obtaining French healthcare system coverage, you will receive a Carte Vitale. Carte Vitale is a state health insurance card that contains all your information: identity, social security number, health insurance rights and information about your medical history. You should carry this little plastic card with you all the time, whether you are seeing your doctor or going to the pharmacy. Even though you will still have to pay, you will be reimbursed in short time from the health insurance fund. If you have not yet received your Carte Vitale, do not panic. You are provided an attestation de droit until the health insurance card is issued.