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Moving to France from Australia: Everything You Need to Know

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How many times have you wondered how to move to France from Australia, and whether it was really worth it? Because we get it. Moving to the other side of the world can be scary. There’s the time change and the physical distance between your friends and family, and not to mention the language barrier and that long plane ride!

But that’s why we’re here -- to make your experience moving to France as easy as possible. Between visa applications to healthcare to bank accounts, we’ve got it all covered in our moving to France checklist.

So without further adieu, here’s everything you need to know before moving to France from Australia.

Can I move to France from Australia?

Yes, but depending on how long you plan to stay, you may need to apply for a visa. For up to three months, you can live in France without one, but if you’re planning to stay longer, you’ll need to submit a visa application.

You must arrange for your visa in Australia before you leave for France. You cannot get your visa in France during the three-month period. Otherwise you will be kicked out of the country.

Applying for a French visa in Australia

To find out what kind of long-stay visa you’ll need for your move, visit France-Visas and take their three minute test. From there, you can find out what type of documents you’ll need for your application, how much it will cost, and where to send your application.

Once you receive your long-stay visa for France, you can stay in the country for up to 12 months before renewal (which you can do in France).

You may not need a French visa, if...

If you are an EU citizen, you do not need a visa. If your family has European lineage, you may be able to apply for an EU passport by applying and proving this lineage to the appropriate European country.

If your spouse is an EU or French citizen, you are legally allowed to live and work in France as well without hassle.

This also applies if you are someone with an extraordinary talent (i.e., entrepreneurs, high achieving university graduates, investors working on a global project, or a professional in your field). You are allowed to live and set up shop in France.

Documents you’ll need

From your French visa application to your rental agreement to your bank account, you’ll need a plethora of documents and identification during your time in France.

Here are the general things you should have on hand, or have multiple copies of:

  • Your passport
  • Passport-sized headshots of yourself
  • Your birth certificate avec filiation (your parents’ names)
  • Your driver's licence
  • Proof of income or sufficient funds that will support you during your stay
  • Proof of health insurance to cover you during your stay
  • Educational qualifications
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • Medical documents, i.e. vaccination records
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable

Staying in France for longer than a year

If you want to live in France for longer than your one-year visa allows, you will have to apply for a carte de séjour, or residency permit. You can do so at least two months before your visa runs out, at your local prefecture.

If you’ve lived in France for five continuous years, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency.

Getting healthcare in France

You can access the healthcare system in France by registering and paying into their social security system. The whole thing works through reimbursement, so you’ll have to pay for healthcare upfront, but will be reimbursed at a later date.

The system pays for about 70% of costs. Anything else will have to be paid out-of-pocket.

France offers a mutuelle that can be purchased to cover any remaining costs that are not covered by your carte vitale.

To become a part of the healthcare system, you’ll need to visit the local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) to apply for a French health card (carte vitale). You will need documents such as your birth certificate and proof of residence.

If you’re not working in France, you can still get healthcare by applying to Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa) and declaring yourself sans activité professionnelle, or without a professional activity.

In the event of an emergency, anyone in France can access hospital services.

Money matters: Opening a bank account in France

You should try to open a French or international bank account in Australia, before you leave for France. This will make it much easier once you land and transition into French life.

You need a French bank account in order to sign up for a mobile phone or internet plan, rent property, and pay bills.

If you’d rather set up your bank account in France, it will take about 3-6 weeks.

Paying your taxes in France

You become a French resident after you have lived (and worked) in France for more than 183 days. That also means that you’re responsible for paying French taxes.

To do that, you’ll first have to register yourself at your local town hall (mairie) or hotel des impôts. You’ll need to pick up a tax form.

The French tax season is between April and May, ending on May 31. You must file before then to avoid a 10% fine. And even if you’re making the bare minimum and know you won’t have to pay any tax, you still need to file a return.

If you are renting a home in France, you’ll also have to pay a housing tax. The amount will depend on where you’re living and the type of residence you have.

France taxes you on worldwide income. This means any investments or financial accounts you have back home in Australia or anywhere else in the world. You must also declare these on your taxes.

France and Australia created a double taxation agreement in 2006, that prevents French or Australian residents living in opposite countries from being taxed twice.

Driving in France

You will need to obtain an International Driving Permit to drive in France. If you’re staying and driving in France for more than a year, you will need to exchange your Australian licence for a French one.

If your Australian drivers’ licence needs to be renewed, contact your road authority in Australia for the proper application. The Australian Embassy in Paris can witness signatures and photos for the renewal, but cannot take steps to push the renewal through.

Australian Embassy in France

Have you landed in France and need a hand? Here’s the address of the Australian embassy in Paris:

Australian Embassy
4, rue Jean Rey, 75724 Paris Cedex 15
Métro Ligne 6 Station Bir-Hakeim
RER C Station Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel
+33 01 40 59 33 00
consular.paris@dfat.gov.au