Leaving France and Moving On

Information on what to do when moving from France; including notifying schools and residency officials, closing bank accounts, ending contracts for utilities and insurance, exporting cars and moving pets…

When leaving France and moving on, there are a number of tasks to be completed before departure.

French Authorities

The French government has an online facility for notifying various organisations (tax authorities, social security (CAF, CPAM), unemployment office and so on) of a change of address. This facility is specifically for moving within France; however it is useful to refer to when moving out of the country. The site has:

Local Authorities

It is recommended to notify the town hall (mairie) when leaving, and leave a forwarding address.

If registered to vote in France, notify the authorities before departure. Re-register on the electoral role if appropriate in the new place of residence.

There is no exit visa required to leave France.

Carte/Titre de Sejour (long term)

During its period of validity, a non-European citizen who holds a 10-year "résident de longue durée- CE" French residency permit may return to France after an absence of up to three years of residence in another country (and longer if resident in an EU country).

Notify the préfecture of the change of address; this is a same-day process and a stamp bearing the new address is place on the permit.

Education

Schools need a reasonable amount of notice of a child's departure. There may be outstanding bills for school fees, transport or meals to be settled.

Many schools require a certificate on first registration, which states the latest grade passed by the child. Request this document from the school when you give notice of departure. French schools normally provide a summary of a child's progress and up-to-date test results (in French). For nursery and primary pupils this is the le livret scolaire and for secondary pupils it will be the bulletins which have been issued for the school year to date and any notes regarding the likely advancement of the child (décision d'orientation).

Primary schools usually issue a certificat de radiation (which removes a child's name from the register) and secondary schools have a certificat de sortie. Although these are intended for parents who are relocating within France, they should still be issued.

Leave a forwarding address for any correspondence.

Housing Issues

Rental contract

Rental agreements usually have a minimum notice period, which must be observed. In France this is six weeks before the end of the contract or three months at any other period during the agreement.

There may or may not be a refundable deposit or a penalty payment if the rental is being terminated earlier than anticipated. The landlord may need to visit and inspect the property prior to departure.

If the landlord cannot find a new tenant and does not agree to the early termination, the departing tenant will likely have to pay a penalty of three months' rent.

Property sales

Property sales can take a relatively long time and necessitate various surveys. Some of these surveys are the responsibility of the seller. It is suggested to find an agent to market the house and seek professional legal and financial advice before selling.

Insurance

House insurance can be cancelled once a sale is completed and in some circumstances a partial refund may be due. Insurance must be cancelled in writing and the letter sent by recorded delivery ("AR").

Utility Bills

As with any house move, there are utility bills to be settled and meters to be read. If meters are not outside, access to the property will be required. Leave a forwarding address with all the companies involved.

Electricity

Electricité Réseau de France (ERDF) takes a final reading when the property has been vacated. When cancelling service, refer to the account number in all correspondence. ERDF can be contacted by telephone or via the website.

  • ERDF have information on moving services

Gas

In towns where there is mains gas, a meter reading will be necessary and a final bill will need to be calculated and paid.

  • Contact information for GDF (in French)

In rural areas it is more likely that gas is supplied from a tank (citerne) or runs on bottled gas. For properties with a tank, contact the supplier who may wish to remove it if the new occupants are not intending to continue to use them as a supplier. A refund may be available if a refundable deposit was paid out on installation of the tank. If there is any remaining gas in the tank that has been paid for then this may also be subject to a refund. Any final bill may also involve the calculation of standing charges which have been paid or are due.

Gas bottles can similarly be returned and in some cases there will have been a deposit paid for the initial bottle which is refundable on return.

Water

In France this is often supplied by a local company or even via your commune with bills issued by the town hall (mairie). Notify them in advance of departure so that a meter reading can be arranged.

Telephone and Internet

Disconnecting a fixed phone line will require contacting Orange. There is a free-phone client services number - 1014.

Alternatively call into the local branch or contact them online.

Internet customers with a rental "Livebox" will need to contact their operator to end the contract. With some operators a phone call is enough, others require a registered letter (often downloadable from their website). The customer then needs to return the box to the operator.

Healthcare

Any private health insurance cover which has been in force may need changing or cancelling.

  • Contact the Caisse d'Allocations Familiales (CAF) The French Government have instructions (in French)
  • Contact the Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) social security: The French Government have instructions (in French)

Holders of a Carte Vitale should contact their nearest CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie) office. If leaving France permanently, the Carte Vitale is surrendered. There are several rulings which apply depending on the reason and duration of a move away from France. However, if moving away from France to live and work in another country (expatrié), right of access to French health insurance are surrendered unless insured by the CFE (Caisse des Français de l’Étranger). Joining the CFE on departure provides a continuation of benefits.

  • L'Assurance Maladie have details(in French)
  • Details from the CFE (and access to PDF brochure in English)

Anyone who has received dental or medical treatment while in France should ask for copies of records or have them forwarded to their new practitioner.

Business and Tax Issues

Banking

To settle all final bills (in Euros) it is likely a French bank account will be required for a short period.

Account closures should be done either in person at the branch where they were opened or by letter sent by recorded delivery to the branch. This letter needs to contain instructions for the disposal of any remaining balance. Note that banks may try to charge for closing an account but they are no longer legally permitted to do so. Leave a forwarding address for future correspondence.

Credit card companies will also need to be notified of a new address for statements.

Tax

Anyone who has been completing a tax return in France should get in touch with the local tax office (centre des impots). This applies as well if a business was operated. There may be outstanding payments or refunds due.

Correspondence

The French postal service (La Poste) offers a mail forwarding service (reexpedition du courier) to addresses outside France. There is a charge, and a minimum of five days’ notice is required to set up the service. The service is offered for 6 or 12 months. Subscribe at the local post office or at the postal service website.

Vehicles and Driving

Vehicles registered in France (including cars which have been imported and subsequently re-registered in France) can leave the country with their French plates. As a general rule a maximum of three months is allowed before the vehicle should be registered in a new place of residence and the French plates given up.

French insurance companies will provide proof of no claims bonus if requested.

Animals

Depending on the destination, some animals may require a period of quarantine. They will almost certainly require documentation and possible additional vaccinations or similar medical treatment.

Most domestic pets require documentation before they can travel. The EU pet passport covers dogs, cats and ferrets for movement within Europe and the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) allows qualifying domestic pets to travel to and from the UK without a period of quarantine.

Be aware that sudden outbreaks of diseases (such as avian flu) can affect pet travel. As a general rule, animals have to travel in approved containers and by approved routes.

The French Customs Authority provides clear information on the regulations for travelling with domestic mammals, fish, amphibians, birds, rodents and reptiles.

If there is any doubt about vaccinations and passports for your pets consult your vet well before departure. Alternatively Embassy websites are a good source of information.

Further Information