If you were hoping to join the French healthcare system by setting up a small business (such as an auto entrepreneur business), be aware of the strict new measures put in place by the French authorities related to issuing social security numbers to foreign citizens.

Carte VitaleWhether or not you are EU citizens and entitled to live and work in France, the French authorities have decided to clamp down on the supporting documentation required in order to issue the social security number, which in turn will enable you to obtain your carte vitale (healthcare card). It should be noted that this does not currently apply to pensioners or other people able to join the healthcare system via the UK reciprocal agreement when they can provide an S1 certificate, it only relates to people setting up in business.

What are these strict new measures?

They relate to certified identity papers. Previously, you were able to obtain your social security number and carte vitale simply by supplying a photocopy of your birth certificate with a court-sworn translation, together with a passport photo and copy of your passport. New rules have been applied since August 2012 but were put in place retrospectively for anyone asking to join the self-employed French social security system from April 2012. You will now also need to arrange for the following to be carried out for yourself and each beneficiary PRIOR to sending in your identity papers to the RSI (self-employed social services):

  • An original or fully certified copy of the long version of your birth certificate (showing your parents’ names). It should be noted that it may be preferable to get a certified copy as this appears to be easier to legalise than an original, where signatures cannot always be verified!
  • An ‘apostille’, which can be requested from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK (or the relevant government body in other countries)*. The official apostille will be attached to the back of the original or certified copy of the birth certificate effectively legalising the document, certifying the authenticity of the signature on the certificate (cost in the region of £30 per certificate).
  • A court-sworn translation of the birth certificate (the translator must be registered with the cour d’appel) and of the apostille if it does not have a French translation (however, the F&CO provide a bilingual apostille) married women will also need to supply a copy of your marriage certificate with court-sworn translation.

    * Please note that we have looked into the ‘apostille’ and ‘legalisation’ conditions and can confirm that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK is the only authority in the UK able to legalise a document and add the apostille.

    For more information on this procedure and assisting with setting up your French business, please do not hesitate to contact us here at SAREG. We have over 20 years’ experience in international businesses and foreign clients wishing to set up a business in France and our English-speaking experts can guide you through the red tape and help you choose the most appropriate solution for your individual circumstances.

    Contact: Debbie Bradbury
    Tel. 00 33 (0)4 50 25 23 97
    Email: enquiries@sareg.com

    SAREG is a group of English-speaking chartered accountants based in the Alps who can assist you with all your accountancy needs from income tax returns to setting up a business or subsidiary in France, employing staff, handling your annual accounts and who can also advise on property investment, rental income and generally guide you through the different steps required to becoming resident and joining the French system!