French social security: how does it work?

Every person living in France has to subscribe to the health insurance organisation (Caisse primaire d'Assurance Maladie or CPAM) which covers most health costs (around 70% of costs based on the minimum rate). The suscription is free of charge. The 30% not reimbursed by social security (known as the "ticket modérateur") is paid by the insured.

You are a student from a European Union country or Switzerland: how do you register with CPAM?

You can ask the social protection organisation in your home country for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Consult the page List of European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries.
  1. You have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC):
    if it is valid until the end of the academic year, your health insurance organisation will continue to pay your reimbursements. In the event of illness, there are two possible situations:
    • consult a doctor in a public health care facility (hospital or health center): upon presentation of your EHIC, you pay only the complementary part (not covered by the health insurance)
    • consult a health care professional in his practice: he will ask you to pay for the entire consultation and give you a treatment sheet (an invoice showing what you have paid). In this case, in order to obtain partial reimbursement, you must send the following documents to your Health Insurance Office:
    - The "feuille de soin", completed and signed
    - A copy of your EHIC
    - Bank account details (RIB) of your French bank account
    - A copy of your student card (or school certificate)

    To find a health care facility or a health care professional click here.
    To find the address of your health insurance office, click here and enter your post code.

    More information
  2. You do not have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC):
    you must register on the website You will complete your file by sending form S1 (form to be requested from the social security office) to your home country before you leave, which certifies your right to have your health costs covered.

You are a student from a country outside the European Union: how do you register with CPAM?

  1. Register on
  2. Submit the required supporting documents:
    national identity card/passport; residence permit; school certificate for the current year; IBAN (bank account details from a bank in France) for your reimbursements; a full copy of your birth certificate (with an official French translation if necessary). 
  3. Create your personal space:
    • Keep the provisional social security number that has been automatically assigned to you and download your provisional social security affiliation certificate.
    • Deposit the missing documents in the personal space.
    • Once your registration has been validated, download the social security affiliation certificate
  4. As soon as you have your provisional number you will immediately have access to reimbursement of your health expenses.
  5. A definitive social security number will be sent to you. It will allow you to create your account on this is your personal space that will allow you to access all your services, ask for a Carte Vitale, consult your reimbursements, download your certificates, contact an advisor, etc.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have any problems, call 36 46 or visit the student section of the Ameli website which is available in several languages.

How can I get a better refund?

  1. Subscribing to a complementary health insurance plan
    Supplementary health insurance is an insurance policy that pays the 30% that is not reimbursed by social security (depending on the case, you may still have to pay part of the cost).
    •  You can apply for the complementary health insurance, free of charge if your resources are low, or with a small contribution if your resources are higher.
    •  You can take out a private supplementary health insurance policy, which is subject to a charge, and which may offer you more comprehensive coverage.
  2. Declaring a general practitioner
    If you declare a general practitioner to social security, your consultation is better reimbursed. For example, for a consultation at 25 euros :
    • if you have declared him/her as your GP, you will be reimbursed €16.50 ;
    • if you have not declared this doctor, you will be reimbursed €6.50.
    More information
  3. Choosing the right health professionals
    In France, a health professional can charge whatever rate he or she wishes, but you will only be reimbursed on the basis of the minimum rate, so it is very important to choose a professional who charges the minimum rate. These professionals are known as "sector 1 approved", so make sure that a professional is part of a "sector 1" agreement.
    Here you will find a directory of health professionals with all the information on rates.

On Campus

You have the possibility to consult a doctor by appointment at the university medical service on the Nanterre campus. The consultation is free of charge. Find all the information and contacts on the Student health service website (SSE).
If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Updated on 21 mai 2024