What to do when you arrive in France
This roadmap is intended as a general guide for IGMM newcomers to facilitate settling into your life in Montpellier.
Please note that the documents and steps may vary depending on your country of origin, work permit, university agreements, type of contract, etc.
1) Get a French phone number ASAP
It’s needed to open a bank account in France so that you can be paid. How : - Choose a company that you like (e.g. Free, Orange, Bouygues, SFR, Sosh, ...) - Order the SIM card (forfait) online. - You will need a local address (it can be temporary)
2) Open a bank account
You will need it to get your salary and to do a transaction in France. How : - Find a bank, they are all similar…. (La Banque Postale, Banque Populaire, BNP Paribas, …) - Bring to the bank office to set up an account : ✔ Your French phone number ✔ Your French address1 ✔ Your ID (piece d’identite) ✔ Your employment contract (not necessary for Masters’ students) ✔ “Student certificate” (Certificat de scolarité) issued by the UM or convention d’accueil for non-EU students (only for PhD or Masters’ students) Ask for a bank card (VISA, Mastercard, …). The bank usually only gives “debit card” to newcomers. Although not essential, having a checkbook might come in handy in some situations where credit cards are not accepted.
*Only for non-EU nationals. Compulsory to apply for the titre de sejour no later than the 3 months after your arrival. How: - Get an appointment with “Service Accueil International Étudiants/Chercheurs” (SAIEC). The website has an English version. The staff are great and they will guide you to get an appointment at the City Hall (Prefecture), and help you with any other issues you may have.
4) Get access to social security (public healthcare) (Assurance Maladie)
Get your social security number and social security card (Carte vitale) How: - Bring documents in person to: CPAM de l'Hérault - Montpellier Gambetta 29 Cr Gambetta, 34000 Montpellier - If you come to Montpellier with a “Passport talent”, send your documents by post to: Assurance Maladie SRI/Talents 75948 PARIS Cedex 19 - Documents needed: ✔ A "demande d’overture des droits à l’assurance maladie" (you’ll need a French address, a temporary one will do) ✔ Your birth certificate (acte d’état civil) ✔ A copy of your ID (titre de séjour and others if no-EU) ✔ A copy of your contract or a payslip (bulletin de paie) ✔ Your RIB (Releve d’identite Bancaire) - Google “demande d’ouverture des droits à l’assurance maladie” to download the document. There, you will find the list of the documents needed.
Put all these documents in an envelope and leave it in the mailbox inside IGMM (send by post if you are submitting them to Paris). You should receive the Carte vitale with your social security number (numero assurance maladie) by reply mail in ~1 month. If need to see a doctor before you get your Carte vitale, your medical expenses will still be covered by the Social Security (SS) as long as you have the SS ID number. You can then set up your online account for the health insurance (Assurance maladie) in ameli.fr. Ask for a “European Healthcare card” on your online account if you travel around the EU.
NB: it is possible to get a complementary insurance (mutuelle) (e.g. LMDE or Heyme) to cover costs that the government-based Assurance maladie does not cover
5) Get a tax ID number (numero fiscal)
There is no urgency here, but you will need it for your tax declaration (declaration des revenus) online (to do in June of every year to declare your income of the year before). If you don’t have a numero fiscal when you do your first declaration you can still submit your tax declaration by post and a fiscal number will be given to you.
There are several ways of obtaining the fiscal number. Visit http://impots.gouv.fr/ for more info. Here’s how to obtain it with the numero assurance maladie (“Numero fiscal avec numero assurance maladie”):
- Go to http://impots.gouv.fr/ → Click on CONTACT - Accéder → Vous êtes: Particulier → Votre demande concerne: l'accès à votre espace particulier → Au sujet de : Je n'ai pas de numéro fiscal. Click to the link “Accès au formulaire” fill it in and follow the instructions to send by e-mail: ✔ Completed document « demande de création d’un taux personnalisé et ⁄ ou d’acomptes de prélèvement à la source » ✔ Copy of ID (carte d’identité, passeport) ✔ Copie of carte vitale Once you have a fiscal number you can do the declaration “d’impôts en ligne” trough your personal area in http://impots.gouv.fr/  Also, note that you will have to pay a tax on your apartment/flat. It can be quite expensive (it is best to find out how much when you rent the apartment/flat) and applies to a place you occupy on January 1 each year.
FINDING AN APPARTMENT :
A. If you are a student (Undergrads, Erasmus, MScs, PhDs, etc) you are eligible to apply for accommodation in the Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires (CROUS). (Minimum stay of 3 months) To apply for it, log in to this website https://www.messervices.etudiant.gouv.fr/envole/. This can be done before you arrive to Montpellier). In Lokaviz.fr you may find apartments/flats for students rented by private individuals.
B. If you are not a student, or you prefer to live in a “classic” apartment/flat, here’s some useful information: Leboncoin.fr is a useful website with apartments/flats both from private individuals and agencies. You will need: ✔ RIB ✔ Work contract with salary or work contract and pay slip ✔ Insurance (assurance) (e.g. MAIF, AXA, ADH, with your bank) ✔ (Guarantor (garant))
Usually, the charges included in the rent are cold water and common costs of the building (garbage, cleaning, etc). The good apartments/flats are rented fast, make sure you have all your documents ready and be quick!
If you need to get electricity/gas, you can apply online through the website of you company of choice (e.g. EDF, ENGIE).
Find out if you are eligible for financial aid via APL (aide personnelle au logement) from la Caisse d'allocations familiales (CAF).
Some small agencies and private individuals do not ask for a guarantor, but in most cases you need one (including for renting a room at the CROUS). The guarantor can be an individual based in France, but fortunately it can also be an institution. For people under the age of 30 (but over 18), there is a nationwide system called Visale (https://www.visale.fr/), it is reliable, cheap and easy to use. Unfortunately, the website is in French so you may have to ask someone to help you apply. For people over 30 there are some private organizations, e.g. Garantme (https://garantme.fr/), a bit more expensive, but worth exploring.
For further information refer to this website: https://www.euraxess.fr/france/information-assistance
OTHER INFO :
Public transport : it is useful to download the TaM and M’Tiket apps. (CNRS can reimburse a percentage of the expenses for traveling to work by public transport)
You may be asked for a proof of residence (attestation de residence).
School holidays (vaccances scolaires) vary depending on the area of France. Some activities stop during this period. (e.g. IGMM internal seminars, some extracurricular activities…)
The university offers free sport classes for students:(https://www.umontpellier.fr/campus/sport)
Learning French : The University of Montpellier offers free evening courses for PhD students through ADUM. The Centre de Français Langue Etrangère (CFLE) is in partnership with the university, and several research centers and also offers evening courses.Several private French schools are available in the city center (eg. Institut Moulin), although slightly more expensive the groups are smaller and might have more suitable schedules.