EU Citizens: Definitions of Residence

Whether or not you move to France to study, work or retire has an impact on whether you can receive French Social Security...

Foreigners in France are either actif - working, or inactif - not working. Slightly different rules apply to each set and are defined as follows:

  1. Actif: Anyone who is receiving an income in France from employment or self-employment.

  2. Inactif: Anyone who is not engaged in economic activity; is not employed or self-employed in France. They are classed as inactif regardless of whether they receive income from inside or outside France (from a pension, investments or other source). This category includes students, retirees and citizens of the New EU Accession countries for whom there are work restrictions.  

Actif: rights of residence

EU citizens have the same rights to work and employment protection as a French citizen. In order to exercise these rights, an actif EU citizen needs to be able to show proof of employment.

This requires: proof of self-employment, or a job contract or letter from an employer declaring employment. There is a six-month unemployment grace-period following the ending of a work contract or after unemployment resulting from an accident at work.

Actif: Application for residence permit (carte de séjour), optional

Employed or self-employed EU citizens living in France for a period of less than five years may apply for an "EU all occupations" (UE toutes activités professionnelles) residence permit. This may be valid up to five years and is issued for the duration of a job contract or anticipated period of self-employment.

Where each department accepts applications differs; it may be at the Préfecture, the sous-préfecture, the local Mairie or the police station of the place of residence. Contact the departmental Préfecture or the local Mairie for information on where to apply.

Documents required for the application are:

  • Valid ID or passport
  • Job contract or a letter from the employer declaring employment, or
  • If self-employed, proof of registration in a trade from the Chambre de Métiers, or proof of registration in a profession from the Chambre de Commerce, or proof of registration as a Profession Libérale from URSSAF
  • Three identity photographs

Required for family members' application:

  • Valid ID or passport
  • Document proving family relationship (marriage certificate, birth certificate)
  • Document proving financial resources (employment contract, job contract of family member, or proof of funds and health insurance)

There is no charge for the application and issue of the residence card.

Inactif/Not working (retired, student, other)

EU-citizens moving to France with no income from employment (such as retired people and students) have the right to live in France, but need to show they have the financial resources to be self-supporting and not depend on the French state.

This requires: proof of pension for the retired, or proof of sufficient financial resources and sickness insurance to support themselves and dependent family members without requiring French social assistance or health insurance. Students must be enrolled in an educational institution or vocational training and have proof from a French bank of sufficient monthly revenue to support themselves and dependent family members.

Inactif: Application for residence permit (carte de séjour), optional

Foreigners in France for a period of less than five years, who aren't receiving income from employment, may apply for a UE Non-Actif residence permit.

Where each department accepts applications differs; it may be at the Préfecture, the sous-préfecture, the local Mairie or the police station of the place of residence. Contact the departmental Préfecture or the local Mairie for information on where to apply.

Documents required for the application are:

  • Valid ID or passport
  • Proof of medical insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial resources for the applicant and their dependent family members in France
  • Three identity photographs

Required for family members' application:

  • Valid ID or passport
  • Document proving family relationship (marriage certificate, birth certificate)
  • Document proving financial resources (employment contract or proof of funds and health insurance)
  • Three identity photographs

Inactif: Student application for residence permit, optional

A student resident in France for a period less than five years may apply for a UE étudiant residence permit which is valid for a maximum of one year and can be renewed.

Where each department accepts applications differs; it may be at the Préfecture, the sous-préfecture, the local Mairie or the police station of the place of residence. Contact the departmental Préfecture or the local Mairie for information on where to apply.

Documents required for the application are:

  • Valid ID or passport
  • Proof of enrolment in an educational institution
  • Proof of medical insurance
  • Declaration by the student (or their guardian) stating that they have sufficient financial resources to support themselves (and possible dependent family) in France. Note that a student's parents are not included as "family"
  • Three identity photographs

There is no charge for the residency card application or card renewal.

Further Information

  • Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union to move and reside freely within the Member States from Europa