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What does “social security” mean for me as a student?

Updated on April 15, 2022
Student Life

What do I need to do to ensure I can receive health and social care when I am a student?

For health insurance, you don’t have to do anything in most cases. If you’re over 16 years of age at the beginning of the academic year and are enrolled in a higher education institution (all levels of education and training combined), you are automatically registered with the CPAM (Caisse primaire d’assurance maladie — French health insurance primary fund) of your place of residence, in this case, your student residence. This means that you’ll be refunded quickly and easily if you’re ill or in need of maternity services during the academic year. You don’t have to pay any fees.

All you need to do is to log in to your ameli account (ameli.fr), send your bank details to your CPAM and update your Carte Vitale.

Note: You can join a supplementary health insurance scheme — a student mutual insurance scheme; your parents’ scheme, even if you’re an adult; or any other organisation you choose. Depending on your financial circumstances, you may also be entitled to C2S (complémentaire santé solidaire — complementary healthcare).

Register at ameli.fr

Your ameli account is a secure personal account where you can access your services, like tracking your refunds, downloading your certificates, changing your details, contacting an advisor to ask questions and much more.

You must also send your bank details to your health insurance fund by post. Don’t forget to include your social security number on the back. Without this, your healthcare costs will not be covered.

The Carte Vitale: the key to receiving your refunds

Your Carte Vitale is your social security card, which proves you’re entitled to health insurance. You must always present your Carte Vitale to your doctor (who you have chosen in advance, with your parents’ consent if you are a minor) and to any other healthcare professional, in order to be refunded after five days.

Remember to update your Carte Vitale at least once a year and whenever your situation changes (e.g. if you change your address). How do I update my details? You can use machines that are located in health insurance centres, pharmacies and some healthcare facilities.

And how does it work for international students?

If you’re from New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, or a foreign country outside of Europe, and you’ve never been registered with the French social security system, you must register at https://etudiant-etranger.ameli.fr/#/. Your online application will ensure that your healthcare costs are covered for the duration of your studies in France.

Note: If you’re a student from Europe, Switzerland or Monaco, you are considered a temporary resident and must be registered with the health insurance scheme of your respective country of origin. Ask your insuring organisation for more information before your arrival in France.