Your interactive family guide to France as recommended by local mums | Last updated 7 months ago

First steps

First steps

There are lots of things to think about and do when moving to France...

One of the first things you must do is make sure that your passport is up to date and apply for a work permit if needed, European members dont usually need one but if you wish to have one ask at your local Prefecture. If you have children also remember the family record book ( Red health book) as this will be asked for everytime you see a doctor, dentist etc as well as when registering your children for school. A good idea would be to go to your doctor in your native country and ask if all vaccations are up to date before you leave. Remember your E111 or the equlivalent depending on which country you are coming from and of course your driving licence.Also, if you are intending to work in france, think about updating your CV, cover letters and any letters of reference that you have. If you can get these translated in French that would be great but it is not neccessary. Getting photocopies of all documents is always a good thing to do. If you are bringing your pet, remember to get them a pet passport and a check from the vet.

It may also be a good idea to contact the relevant authorities in your country to let them know that you will be leaving. For example - Social security, family allowances, inland revenue, national employment service and pension funds. Ask for them to send you the documents that will be needed in France to prove your rights. You may need a E303 form if you are receiving unemployment benefit in the UK or even a E301 form for when you find a job in France, this will enable you to calculate your periods of unemployment contributions between your country and France. Once living here you might also be asked for a document from the family allowances to state that you do not recieve any child benefit from them. Why not ask your bank about transferring your bank account to another bank account in France! A really important thing to think about is making sure you have sufficient financial funds to keep you going for at least 6 months to a year especially if you will not have any income straight away.

Once you get to France why not think about registering with your consulate in France, they are sure to have lots of useful information. Why not pop into your local Mairie (Town Hall), they will be sure to have information on everything you need to know about living in the region. It is always good to get to know the people who work there because they maybe able to help you when and if needed in the future.

Remember to get a car insurance policy and of course a home insurance policy to protect your assets. There are lots of insurance policies, so take your time to find the best for you. Register with a doctor, dentist and vet if needed, these can either be found in the yellow pages or simply ask at the Mairie. If you have children remember to register them at your local school. Most towns have both public and private (usually Catholic) schools. Children can start from the age of 2, if they are out of nappies, in many schools but they do not have to go until they are 6 years old.
If you are looking for work the best thing to do is go along to your local Pole Emploi, this is the french national employment agency. There should be one in most towns. They will probably tell you to come back another day with all your paperwork for meeting. Another place to go is to an Interim agency, this is a temporary employment agency. Why not keep an eye on the local newspapers to see if anyone is advertising, have a look in shop windows or if you feeling confident go in and leave your CV.
It is also a good idea to visit your neighbours to introduce yourselves and if you want to integrate in to the french way of life why not join local clubs and groups! This will also improve your french.

Thank you to Geraldine Mcdougall for her contribution to this section