For members


Reader question: How can I get a French address before arriving in France?

It can seem like Catch 22 - you need a French address for a visa or to enter the country, but you can't rent a place until you're in the country. Here is how to secure your first French address.

Reader question: How can I get a French address before arriving in France?

There are several situations where a foreigner wishing to spend extended time in France might need to show proof of address here – even before they have arrived in the country.

The first and most common situation is visa related – certain types of visa including the long-stay visitor visa require proof of accommodation as part of the application.

However, even when entering France for a short stay, non-EU visitors can be asked to show proof of accommodation

If you already own property in France this is easy – just show the deeds to your property.

If you intend to rent once you’re in France, then here are some options for fulfilling the accommodation requirement:

Airbnb, hotel or similar

This is the easiest option if you do not know people already living in France – simply book an Airbnb, hotel, B&B or similar short-term accommodation for the initial part of your stay in France and attach the receipt or proof of booking to your application.

Typically, the booking should show at least three months worth of accommodation for a long-stay visa. If you are worried about price, consider prioritising a hotel or Airbnb that allows cancellations.

There is also a possibility that consular authorities will not accept this alone as your proof of accommodation, so it is advised to also write a letter explaining how you will find more permanaent housing once you get to France.

Staying with friends or family

If you know someone living in France, then they can provide an attestation d’accueil, which is a document that confirms you will be staying with them. 

This must be acquired in advance by the host, and then sent to the guest so that they can include it in their visa application or present it at the border as required.

Essentially, the host contacts their local mairie (for people living in Paris, Lyon and Marseille that’s the arrondissement mairie) and requests the form for the attestation d’accueil (or form number n°10798) – you can find a sample copy of the form here.

If you’re travelling as a family then spouses or legally registered partners plus children aged under 18 can all be covered by the same form.

The Local has put together a guide to requesting and presenting an attestation d’acceuil.

Signing a lease in advance

Getting an long-term rental on an apartment or house before you arrive can be tricky – landlords will usually require a dossier of documents including proof of your right to live in France if you are not an EU citizen and often also ask for a French bank account. Banks, on the other hand, usually require you to have a French address in order to open an account.

There are some agencies and relocation services geared toward foreigners moving to France which allow you to sign a short-term lease without having the full dossier of documents. Keep in mind that prices are likely to be higher than going market rates.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about your vital French ‘dossier’

The other option is subletting – not all sublets are legal which means that you can be left in a vulnerable position if things go wrong, but it can be an option particularly if you know the person you are subletting from.

Showing extra funds

If you’re coming to France for a long-stay on a visa then depending on your visa type you may need to provide proof of funds in a bank account – you can learn more about individual visa requirements using The Local’s guide.

For tourists or visitors coming for a short stay who benefit from the 90-day rule, the alternative to providing proof of accommodation for the duration of your trip is showing proof of funds. This can be useful if, for example, you’re planning to tour France as a backpacker or you simply don’t want to commit yourself in advance by booking a place to stay for your entire stay. 

The gist is that tourists who are visiting for under 90-days must show that they can support themselves financially during their trip, which depends on your housing situation when in France.

Short-stay visitors must show at least €32.50 per day if they are being hosted by a French resident, €65 per day if they are staying in a hotel or Airbnb, or €120 per day if accommodation has not yet been secured.

What about once I have arrived in France?

After arrival in France, several administrative procedures, including opening a French bank account, will require a proof of address, or attestation de domicile

Usually, this is in the form of recent utility bills (phone, internet, electricity, etc) with your name on them or a rental contract. Property owners may also show their deed.

If you have not secured a permanent address in France yet and you are being hosted by someone, then you can ask that they write you an ‘attestation d’hébergement’. This is a document swearing that you are currently living with your host. You can find a model for how to write one of these documents on the French government website Service-Public.

Keep in mind that an attestation d’hébergement is different from an attestation d’accueil. The former promises that you are currently living with the French resident in question, whereas the latter states that you will be hosted by the French resident.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Moving to France: Language tests, new immigration law and jobs for non French-speakers

Moving to France - a country famous for its complicated bureaucracy - can be a daunting task. Fortunately, our new newsletter is here to answer your questions - this month we're looking at new immigration plans, acquiring language skills and healthcare.

Moving to France: Language tests, new immigration law and jobs for non French-speakers

Here at The Local we’re an Anglo-American team living in France – which means all of us have been through the simultaneously exciting and terrifying process of moving countries.

Our new newsletter is aimed at people who are in the process of moving, have recently moved and are still grappling with the paperwork or perhaps are just thinking about it – and we’ll share a monthly selection of practical tips. Our team is also available to answer questions from subscribers to The Local.

Let’s start with some news that I know has been worrying people who plan to move to France some day – the new French immigration bill.

The bill is currently making its way through parliament, with a lot of accompanying political drama and some very headline-grabbing amendments from Senators (most of which have now been scrapped).

This seems to be one of those cases where the political drama is in inverse proportion to the actual content of the bill – because it really doesn’t contain a lot that would affect people moving to France. We’ve done a complete breakdown HERE.

It won’t immediately affect new arrivals – but one thing that the bill does contain is a proposal for compulsory language tests in order to gain the long-term residency card (which usually happens after four or five years of residency, depending on your personal situation). We have a guide on exactly what language level would be required and a quiz so you can test yourself against the required standard. 

Language skills

I’m often asked how easy it is to move to France if you don’t speak any French at all. Ideally you would do some studying before arriving, but sometimes circumstances dictate a move while your French is still at a basic level (full disclosure – my French was extremely rudimentary when I first arrived).

Here’s a look at how easy it is to move to France if you don’t speak French – and what jobs you could do while you learn. 

Staying healthy

The other big concern for many people is healthcare – specifically how to access care in France, and whether you need to pay for expensive health insurance in order to move.

In good news, the French system is pretty generous – you can register in the French public health system after three months of residency and the state covers around 70 percent of medical costs, depending on circumstances. It’s worth pointing out, however, that the registration process itself can be lengthy – it’s not unusual to wait a year for your first carte vitale health card.

What you do in the meantime – and what health cover you need in order to get a visa – depends on your country of origin. 

Brits can use their EHIC or GHIC European health card as proof of medical cover, although it’s advised to get a short private health insurance policy too as there are things not covered by the European health card.

If you’re moving from an EU country you would be covered by the reciprocal EU health agreements between member states, but if you’re moving from the USA you will need private cover for your first few months in France (and not all American health insurance covers treatments outside of the US). 


The Local’s Reader Questions section covers questions our members have asked us and is a treasure trove of useful info on all kinds of practical matters. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, head here to leave us your questions.

Bon courage !