For members


Explained: How to register with a doctor in France

If you're here for the long term you will want to register with a doctor who can be your regular point of contact for all health-related matters - here's how the system works.

Explained: How to register with a doctor in France

First things first, is registration compulsory?

If you’re applying for a carte vitale – the French state medical cover that all residents are entitled to after living here for three months – then you will need to register a medecin traitant (treating doctor) as part of the application process.

For more on how to register for a carte vitale, click HERE.

This is a fairly simple process of taking a form to any medecin généraliste (GP or family doctor) and asking them to sign it.

They are then registered as ‘your’ doctor, but unlike in the UK you’re not limited to seeing only that doctor or their colleagues.

If you want to, you can make an appointment with any medecin généraliste and it’s pretty common for French people to have a couple of ‘regular’ doctors – one near home, one near their workplace and maybe even one near their second home in the country.

If you want a doctor who speaks English, check out the medical app Doctolib – as part of its service it lists the languages spoken by each doctor. More info HERE. 


If you’re using a carte vitale, however, check the level of reimbursement as it’s usually lower with a doctor that you’re not registered with. 

In France you pay your doctor upfront at the appointment – the standard fee is €25 but some doctors can and do charge more – and the the cost is reimbursed through your carte vitale, if you have one, or through health insurance if you have it.

READ ALSO 5 things to know about visiting a doctor in France

In addition to your généraliste, if you need to see a specialist you can make an appointment with them directly, there is no need to be referred by your GP.

If you prefer not to register in the French state system, you can make an appointment with any doctor you like, and either cover the cost yourself, or pay for private health insurance.

Medical deserts

In most parts of France, finding a doctor is as simple as asking friends/family for a recommendation and then calling for an appointment, or getting online to find someone with the relevant qualifications near you.

However, if you are unfortunate enough to live in one of the country’s déserts médicaux (medical deserts), things may be more complicated.

Medical deserts are areas where there are not enough doctors to cater for the local population – most of them are in rural areas but some urban areas are affected too, especially the Seine-Saint-Denis area on the outskirts of Paris.

If you live in one of these areas there is not a simple solution – you may need to simply shop around until you find a doctor who will register you, who might be further away than you would like. If you’re in an urban area that is a medical desert, some health centres will only register you after several appointments.

You can check here to see whether your neighbourhood is a medical desert.

READ ALSO The French towns that do not have enough doctors


If you have children they will be covered by your carte vitale until they turn 16 but if you register with a généraliste then you should register the children too, separately.

Généralistes will see children for appointments, but there are also pédiatres (paediatricians) who you can register with to take you through the usual illnesses and scrapes of childhood. 

You might prefer to see the same person so that you can build up a relationship, but as with other doctors you are not limited to your own pédiatre so you can make an appointment with someone else if they are busy. 


If you’re not a full-time resident in France you’re not entitled to be registered within the French state medical system, but you can still see a doctor if you need to.

You can make an appointment directly with a doctor’s office and you will need to pay for the appointment – €25 is the standard fee. If you have health insurance or travel insurance you may be able to claim back the cost, depending on the terms of your policy.

If you are using an EHIC (European health insurance card) or the UK version GHIC you might be able to claim back the cost depending on the reason – these cards are intended to cover emergency medical treatment and people are advised to have extra travel insurance.


If you have a medical emergency in France you are entitled to go to hospital or call an ambulance whether you are a resident or not.

French hospitals are legally obliged to treat you if it is an emergency, but if you’re not resident in France and registered in the health system, you are likely to be presented with a bill for treatment.

If you visit a hospital Emergency department and have on-the-spot treatment but are not admitted, a flat fee of €18 applies.

READ ALSO What to do if you have a medical emergency in France

Member comments

  1. So what is the form I need to get my doctor to sign? I can never work it out (and what doi say when I ask them to sign it?!). Its been three years and so now I’m a little embarrassed to ask! 😹

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For members


What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

The annual demands for property taxes have begun arriving at households across France - and many people will notice quite a difference to last year's bill.

What to expect from your 2023 French property tax bills

Every year in September and October the French tax office sends out bills to households across France relating to property taxes – these are separate to income tax bills, which arrive over the summer.

The autumn bills are usually made up of three parts; taxe foncière, taxe d’habitation and the redevance audiovisuelle.

However, system changes to all three parts mean that for some people bills will be be much lower than last year, while others will have nothing at all to pay.

Here’s what changes;

Redevance audiovisuelle – this was the TV licence and was charged at €138 per household, with some exceptions for pensioners or people who had no TV.

This year, it has been scrapped for everyone (including second-home owners) so most people’s bills are €138 less than last year.

Taxe d’habitation – this is the householder’s tax, paid by the inhabitant of the property – whether you rent it or own it. This is gradually being phased out, a process that started in 2019. It has been done based on income, with those on lower incomes having the charge scrapped first until it is gradually scrapped for everyone – with the exception of very high earners and second home owners.

So depending on your income level, you may have already had the tax phased out, or it may be phased out for you this year, or you may be paying a reduced rate this year.

These two changes are part of a tax giveaway from president Emmanuel Macron, and at the bottom of your tax bill you will find a note explaining how the charges have changed this year, and what you would have paid without the reductions.

It will look something like this;

Taxe foncière – this is the property owners’ tax and is paid on any property that you own – if you own the home you live in you may need to pay both taxe d’habitation and taxe foncière and if you are a second-home owner you will also pay both.

In contrast to the other two taxes, however, this one has been going up in many areas.

In fact, it’s connected to the taxe d’habitation cut – local authorities used to benefit from taxe d’habitation, so the phasing out has left many of them short of money. In some areas, they have reacted by raising taxe foncière.

This tax is calculated based partly on the size and value of the property you own (which is why if you do any major renovations or add a swimming pool you need to tell the tax office) and partly on the tax level decided by your local authority. 

This means that the actual rate varies quite widely between different parts of France, but in some areas it has gone up by 20 percent.

You can find more about how the tax is calculated, and how to challenge your bill if you think it is excessive, HERE.