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PENSION

EXPLAINED: The website to help you calculate your French pension

Looking to get an idea of what your French pension could look like if you have worked in France as a foreigner? Here is how you can simulate it with this French government website.

EXPLAINED: The website to help you calculate your French pension
Screenshot of the homepage for French website Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

As French workers debate over pension rights, many foreigners living in France have been wondering how they fit into the equation.

If you have worked in France under a French contract for at least one trimestre (quarter), then you have begun paying into the state pension system, because it is compulsory to do so.

Reader Question: How long do I have to work in France to qualify for a state pension?

However, you must keep in mind that the French pension system is ‘pay-as-you-go’ – meaning, you might only qualify for a very small French pension if you worked for only a few years in France. 

If you worked in both France and another country, and you are curious about how your pension will be calculated to reflect your working time in both countries, you can learn more HERE. Keep in mind that the situation is different for people who have ‘posted worker’ status. 

The remainder of this article concerns solely French state pensions. 

While there are complex calculations you could attempt to estimate it, we have some very good news that will save you some time (and a headache) – France has a simple and user-friendly website at which everyone can calculate their pension entitlements.

Head to the website info-retraite.fr and log in using your social security number (or France Connect).

If you have worked and paid contributions for more than one trimestre in France, you will find an account set up ready for you which shows your years of contributions in France, and what pension you can expect.

The advantage of the French system is that your pension contributions are deducted automatically, even when you change jobs, and the government keeps track of it all via your social security number.

Here is how to use the website;

You will start with a homepage resembling the screenshot below:

A screenshot of the homepage for Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Head to the top right corner and click on the link below “Mon compte retraite” which says “J’accède à mon compte retraite.”

Once you have clicked on this, you will be led to a log-in screen (shown below). You will have the option to log in with France Connect.

If you do not use France Connect, you can create an account by clicking “Créer mon compte retraite” in the lower right hand corner. You will need access to your French social security number to fill out the relevant information.

Once you have logged onto the website, you will find a screen welcoming you to your account.

This homepage has different sections such as your profile on the website, a visualisation of your working life and pension contributions in France (Ma carrière) and your pension simulator (found under “Mon estimation retraite“).

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr

To calculate what your current French pension looks like, and to simulate what it could be, you should click on “Mon estimation retraite.” You should be taken to a page that resembles the one shown in the screenshot below. 

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Accéder directement à mon estimation offers a predictive pension rate based on your current situation.

To simulate what your pension could be in the future, by adding in elements reflecting your individual situation – such as children, disabilities, and periods of unemployment, click “Simuler ma retraite.”

The website shows what you can expect if you retire at the legal minimum age (note: this screenshot was taken when the minimum age was set to 62, but starting September 2023, the minimum age will progressively rise to 64 due to pension reform) and what you can expect if you stay until the ‘upper age’ of 67.

It will also show you how many trimestres you have, and how many you need for a full pension. 

To simulate what your pension could become, you will have to fill out some further information. The first is your family situation – as shown in the image below, you will need to indicate if you have any children and if so how many.

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Next, you will describe your professional situation – whether you are employed (Salarié), working as a freelancer or contractor or running your own business (Non salarié ou indépendent), a public sector worker (Fonctionnaire), or currently receiving benefits. Ignore the expatrié section – that’s for French people working abroad.

This segment will also ask you further details about your situation, like if you work full or part-time, what your average salary is, and more.

Once you have filled out the relevant information, you will be taken to a new page that offers a simulation of what you could earn as a French pension based on the information you uploaded.

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

The above screenshot provides an example of a simulated French pension for a person who has one child, and has worked all of their career, full-time, in the French private sector with an average annual (gross) income of €36,000.

Keep in mind that there are many different factors that are involved in estimating a French pension, so the simulation you receive may not perfectly predict what you will be owed upon retirement.

So what about people have have contributed to a pension in both France and another country?

When it comes to non-French pensions, periods of employment outside France may be combined with years worked in France to boost or qualify for the French state pension. However, it depends on which country you have worked in, and whether that country has a social security agreement with France.

You can learn more about this HERE.

READ MORE: Ask the experts: What foreigners living in France need to know about French pensions

This article is a general view of the pension system and does not constitute individual financial advice. If you are are unsure about your pension rights, seek independent financial advice.

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PROPERTY

What restrictions are there on foreigners buying property in France?

Purchasing property in France as a foreigner has several extra hurdles - here's a look at some of the restrictions and other challenges you will want to be aware of beforehand.

What restrictions are there on foreigners buying property in France?

There are several things to consider before buying property in France. You may want to visit the area during different seasons to be sure that you enjoy it rain or shine, and you will want to consider how much you would end up paying in property taxes, as well as whether or not it will be a main residence or second home.

The law

Let’s start with the good news – there are no official rules in France against non French-citizens purchasing property, neither is there any requirement to be resident in the country in order to buy property – indeed foreign second-home owners make up a small but significant slice of the property market.

Revealed: Where in France do foreigners buy second homes

But in practice there are a number of challenges foreigners face when buying French property, especially if they need a mortgage.

Property sale process

Before making your decision, learn the steps to buying property in France and the expected timeline.

Roughly, there are five steps: making your offer, a cool-off period, signing a ‘Compromis de Vente‘, providing the notary (notaire) with your deposit, and signing the ‘Acte Authentique de Vente‘ (deed).

READ MORE: How long does it normally take in France to buy a property?

The French property purchase system is likely to be different to what you are used to – especially the role of the notaire.

Also Americans might be surprised to learn that in contrast to the US system of having a realtor who guides you through the entire process, in France – as in most of Europe – buyers are expected to do much work of the house-hunting work themselves.

Bureaucracy

There are a few extra steps added if you need a mortgage, but generally all foreign buyers should be prepared to have a valid ID (passport), as well as other documents including your marriage and/or divorce papers (to demonstrate your civil status).

At some point in the process, you will need to open a French bank account, even if that ends up just being for utilities after you’ve made the purchase. The earlier you can open a French bank account, the better.

You should know that purchasing property in France does not automatically give you residency rights. If you are not an EU citizen, then you will need a residency card or visa to spend extended time in France.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What type of French visa do you need?

Getting a mortgage

While there are no laws stopping foreigners from buying property in France for most people the biggest obstacle is getting a mortgage, as there are conditions that many foreigners cannot fulfil.

In France, the vast majority of loans are guaranteed by banks, and one bank’s offer to you may not be the same as another’s. You are free to contact several banks to find the best offer for your situation.

READ MORE: French property: How to get a mortgage in France

While there are alternative options besides banks, such as a ‘vendor loan’ (prêt vendeur) – where one sets up a credit contract directly with the seller of the property via a notary – this is much less common.

The biggest issue is that banks will require that foreigners prove that they will be able to legally remain in France for the entirety of the repayment period. As such, it can be very challenging those on short-term residency cards, to be accepted for a mortgage loan.

For the same reason, it is very difficult for non-residents to get a mortgage via a French bank.

Foreigners can also consider international options, or independent, specialised mortgage brokers, like those geared toward expats – however some have minimum income levels and minimum property purchase prices.

Another point to keep in mind is the fact that French banks also look favourably on ‘stable’ employment statuses, such as CDI (indefinite) work contracts, which, by their calculation, reduce risk of unemployment. It’s not impossible to get a mortgage if you are self-employed, but it’s harder.

Additionally, age can be a factor – lenders tend to be less likely to award mortgages to those nearing or above retirement age.

Americans – The situation is even more challenging for Americans in France, as banks can be reticent about working with Americans due to FATCA – which, according to the US dept of treasury, requires that “foreign financial institutions (FFIs) report to the IRS information about financial accounts held by US taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest.”

This has forces French banks to collect and maintain more information about their American customers. If the banks fail to disclose information to the IRS, they risk exclusion from the US market as well as penalties.

In a survey about the effects of citizenship-based taxation on Americans in France, one respondent said: “Multiple banks have denied me a mortgage because I am American.

“We used the services of a mortgage broker and when we went in for the final presentation a few weeks ago, only one out of the many banks queried offered us a mortgage, and it wasn’t even a good offer.”

READ MORE: Divorce, stress and fines: How citizenship-based taxation affects Americans in France

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