Practical information for living in France

Visas and permits

EU/EEA Students + Interns

As ever, being a member of the EU is extremely advantageous when it comes to relocating to another member state. You do not require any visa or residency permit to live, work and study in France, nor require a French social security number to open a bank account/rent an apartment. Easy.

Non-EU/EEA Students + Interns

Now it gets a little more complicated. If you are planning to stay for less than three months, you can obtain a short-term visa which lasts for 90 days and is valid in any of the countries in the Schengen Area. You have to fill out the Schengen Visa Application Form in your home country of residence before coming to France.

There are some nationalities who may be exempt from visa requirements for short stays in France.

For long-term stays of over 90 days, you will need to apply for long-stay visa. This is necessary in order to apply for a residence permit which allows you to stay in France long-term.

Canadian, Australian and New Zealand workers can live and work in France for up to one year without a visa, thanks to working holiday agreements between the different nations. For everyone else outside of the EU/EEA, you’ll need an official contract offer and your long-stay visa in order to undertake your internship.

Opening a French bank account

In general in France you need only a few documents to open a national bank account:

  • Your valid passport

  • Proof of residence in France

  • Proof of registration with your university

They should set up the bank account that same day, and you’ll have access to internet banking soon thereafter. Your debit card will be issued by post, so allow a sensible amount of time for it to arrive. In the meantime, you should be able to withdraw by going to the bank with your ID and requesting funds.

Be careful with overdrafts in France - they are not well-liked, and unless you want to risk serious charges, you should always keep your account in the black.

Getting a SIM card in France

The best way to get a good phone contract in France is to simply shop around online or on the high street - the different operators are desperate to undercut one another, so there are always great deals floating about, especially when the students arrive in the fall! Your new SIM card will come with a number, and you’re all set!

If you need a handset as well, you can get contracts with one included, but they’ll probably last 12-24 months, non-negotiable. The best option would be to find a rolling monthly contract and buy a cheap handset outright, either online or from a 2nd hand tech store in the city.

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