Congratulations on your arrival in Paris!
Hopefully you’re not feeling too overwhelmed as yet.
There’s a lot to take in, but at least, now you’ll have fabulous wine and pastries to help you get through it.
Before you take that trip to the south of France, or spend your days browsing museums, there are a few things to take care of in order to establish yourself in Paris.
1. Visa Validation by OFII
If you’re planning to stay in France longer than three months, you must get your visa validated and apply for carte de séjour, a long-term residency card. The French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) will help you with that. After you find the local office for your arrondissement, fill out your application and take it, along with your passport, proof of a place to stay, photos and money to OFII. Once you’ve completed the interview and medical exam, you will have your visa validated with a stamp in your passport.
Find more about the French Visa in our Free eBook right here.
2. Having an easy and free access to a listing of Expats-Paris Service providers
Expats love helping fellow expats. Every longtime resident in Paris knows just how difficult it is to get acclimated and wade through the unknown upon arrival in the city. Expats-Paris has a list of service providers that can help you get situated in Paris and make your life a little easier, hopefully. We’ve been through the “newbie” phase ourselves and have amassed a lot information to help you make sense of everything.
Find more about the other Free features our members enjoy right here.
3. Bank account opening
Before you can get a job, rent a place in your little corner of paradise, or even get your carte vitale, which is a requirement of all French residents, you’ll need to open a bank account. It’s one of the things prospective landlords, employers and the government look for when processing your application.
4. Search for housing.
You won’t be able to stay in your hotel or bed and breakfast forever, no matter how much you adore the view of the Eiffel Tower from your window. Eventually you’ll need to start hunting around for long-term accommodations and brave the world of skeptical landlords. Places go fast, so you need to hit the ground running, check online sites for classifieds, contact expat communities like Expat Paris that will have lists of services that you can use to help you find what you need. Fellow expats have been through this, too, and helpful advice abounds. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
5. Getting a local phone number
You’ll need a way for people to contact you, not to mention the family that you may have left behind, or the cute guy you have your eye on at the bakery down the street. You can get a cell phone with a reasonable monthly plan from a variety of sources in France. A useful resource for comparing mobile phone subscriptions is Edcom. The main providers that have cheap plans include Série Red, Sosh, Free and Virgin Mobile.
Check these other consumer goods Parisian like and their prices.
6. Starting the process for healthcare insurance
The minute you have your long-term visa stamp, you should start the application process for your carte vitale or social security card. First off, it’s required by all French residents. Secondly, you’ll love the benefits that you get for healthcare, and the costs are very reasonable.
CPAM is the organization that administers French healthcare. You can use the Ameli website to find your local office and register. Proof of entry into the country, birth certificate, passport, where you live locally, banking information, employment and your application form will all be needed for this process. Your birth certificate must come from your country of birth, and be translated by a court-certified translator in France. This point is non-negotiable.
7. Getting registered at Pôle Emploi for job-search (if you need one)
The Pôle Emploi is a great resource to help you find work in Paris. To register, you must be seeking work and have proof of residency. Everything is in French, so if you don’t speak the language, get someone to help you. You will need to have your social security card, a CV in French and bank account information on hand, as well as a completed application, which can be done at a local branch or online.
After you state your work availability, then the following information is gathered: what you’re looking for, your last job, previous earnings, knowledge and training. An interview is scheduled, and you’ll need to bring your confirmation and signed forms, along with your passport, an attestation Pôle Emploi from your last employer (if you were employed previously in France), a photocopy of your carte vitale and your bank information (RIB), your proof of education (certificates, diplomas, etc), and they will take it from there.
8. Finding Expat communities
Expats Paris is one of many expat communities that are at your service to help you with your transition to life in the city. Communities like this are full of resources, meet and greets and other events that will help you acclimatize and improve your comfort level. Finding others like yourself will make life less foreign to you.
9. Figuring out how your embassy/consulate can help you
It is likely that the embassy/consulate for your country has resources for new arrivals, too. Find out where they are, locally, and become acquainted with their services. They exist to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, should you need it, especially if there’s an issue with your papers.
10. Making yourself a local friend
Expats Paris Members.
Not everyone is solitary by nature. Having a friend to go around with in Paris will broaden your horizons and help you feel more comfortable here. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
You’ve already made it to Paris.
Now all you have to do is take charge of it.
Go to a place where you feel comfortable, perhaps an Expat gathering, and introduce yourself to someone who’s been here for awhile. Look for things you have in common with that person and build on them.
Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know or understand something.
That’s what friends are for.
They have your back.
Over to you!
Thanks for reading! Do you have anything to add to this article? Any other things a first timer in Paris shouldn’t ignore? Please leave your comments below.
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