The French social security number is necessary in order to be reimbursed for your medical expenses, to receive your daily allowances in case of sickness, or to receive other benefits in France such as unemployment benefits or pension.
The social security number consists of 15 digits: 13 digits containing information such as the gender, year, month and place of birth plus a 2 digits key number. For people born in France, the social security number is automatically issued at birth. For someone who moved to France, it is necessary to formally apply for it. Everyone who is working in France can request it as well as every person who is a stable and regular resident in France.
In this article we will explain how you can obtain the social security number as well as the health care card ‘carte vitale’.
Registration Process: How to obtain a French social security number
Before you start your new job, your employer will send a pre employment declaration refered to as dpae (‘déclaration préalable à l’embauche’) to the social security body URSSAF. In case you chose My Payroll Pro France as your French payroll provider this declaration is part of our payroll services France. In case you are already registered in France because you have worked in France before, this is all that has to be done.
However, when you work in France for the first time, there are several administrative task to accomplish in order to get registered in France. You will need to apply for a tax number for the withholding tax in France and for a social security number.
In case you first arrived in France, to allow you to open your rights to health insurance you will have to fill out the form ‘demande d’ouverture de droits à l’assurance maladie’. It will need to be sent to your local health insurance CPAM accompanied by the supporting documents (copy of your ID or passport, work contract, first payslip, proof of residence, birth certificate, Statement of bank details (RIB).
Temporary French Social Security Number
The social security CPAM will issue a temporary Social Security number to be used until your application has been processed. You will also receive an attestation confirming that you have access to the health care (document refered to as ‘attestation de droits à l’assurance maladie’). The provisional Social Security number begins with 3, 7 or 8. This will insure that you get refunds for your medical expenses, but you will have to pay them upfront.
Permanent French Social Security Number
Once your application has been processed, you will receive your permanent social security number.
It is impossible to estimate the processing delay: all depends on the local CPAM and the documents transmitted. You should expect at minimum delay of two month.
With the permanent social security number you can set up your account with ameli.fr and you can request the health care card refered to as ‘carte vitale’.
Your French social security number gives you access to the health care system
Health care card ‘Carte Vitale’
The ‘Carte Vitale’ is a green coloured physical social security card. It contains your photo, full name, French social security number and a chip. It is used to identify you at any health-related service (for instance at your general practitioner, the hospital or pharmacy). It is valid anywhere France.
In order to request it, you will first need your permanent social security number as explained above. Once this is issued you can apply for your social security card ‘carte vitale’ either by paper application (with the form ‘ma nouvelle carte vitale’ received with your social security number confirmation) or electronically. We recommend to request it online as the processing is faster and the status of the request can be followed.
You can go to ameli.fr and set up your account with your social security number and personal data. Once you have access to your account you can apply for the carte vitale online. You will need to enter your personal data as well as an ID picture. It takes less than one month to receive your card in the mail.
Using the card allows you to have your medical expenses paid directly by the social security agency CPAM without having to pay the expenses upfront.
You can access all information related to medical expenses and payments by the CPAM on the account ameli.fr.
You will be required to update your personal data saved on your card once per year. This can simply be done in any pharmacy or CPAM.
Additional health care ‘Mutuelle’
The social security CPAM does not refund 100% of the medical expenses and to partially cover the remaining expenses, employers are required to set up an additional health care refered to as ‘mutuelle’. In order to complete your mutuelle membership registration the insurance company will request the confirmation from the CPAM ‘attestation de droits à l’assurance maladie’ with your social security number.
To avoid any upfront payments, we recommend to connect the mutuelle to the carte vitale.
To set this up you will need the third party payment card called ‘carte de tiers payant’. It is issued by your mutuelle and it will be send to you by mail once your health care mutelle is set up. If you have an online access to your mutuelle you can download it.
With this card, you can request at any pharmacy to register your mutuelle to your carte vitale. In some cases it is also possible to set this up via your account ameli.fr.