When you arrive in France for your studies, there are a number of things you need to do. Apart from registering at the university which is the paramount, you should also do the following:
- Open a bank account
You need to open an account in the bank, which will enable you to have a bankcard and a checkbook. Many big malls and selling points prefer payments with bankcard and for security sake, it is better to carry out transactions with bankcard. After opening an account, you are given your bank account details (RIB). Everything that is needed to send money to your account is found in the bank details. When you get a job, one of the things you will be asked to submit is your RIB, it will be used to pay your salary to your account.
- Register with CAF
As a student, you are entitled to Social Welfare Family Allowance (CAF). The amount you get after registering with this organisation depends on your rent and personal income. However, when you start working and earning a significant sum, the allowance you get will reduce. In fact, the more you earn, the lesser your allowance will be. Therefore, you are advised to inform CAF when your situation changes, for example when you are no longer a student, so that your allocation will be recalculated according to your new situation. It takes about two months for this organisation to respond to requests, so the earlier you register with them, the better.
- Register with a doctor
During registration at the universities, students are obliged to pay for social security in addition to their school fees. The yearly amount is 215 euros and it covers almost 70% of the expenses you spend in consulting a general doctor and buying prescribed medicines in the pharmacy for a year.
After registration, you need to register with a general practitioner and declare it to your health insurer. As a resident in France, it is necessary to have a general practitioner, preferably close to where you live so that if there is an emergency, you can easily consult your him/her. When you are sick, you go to your general practitioner who may prescribe some medicines for you after consultation. The consultation fee in France is about 23 euros, but thanks to the health insurance, you will end up paying about 7 euros. The doctor may also recommend you go for some tests in the laboratory in which you will only pay for about 35% of the expenses. Same with the prescribed medicines you buy at the pharmacy; you will only pay 30% of the amount.You hardly get reimbursed for non-prescribed medicines you buy in the pharmacy.
It is very important you declare your general practitioner before consulting him or her, if not your insurer will only reimburse 30% of your fees against 70%.
Your health insurer will also give you an insurance card (carte vitale). The advantage of this card is that you only pay the equivalent of 30% of your fees when you present the card in the pharmacy or when you consult your doctor, instead of paying the full fees and filling a form to be reimbursed later by your insurer. Therefore, it is recommended you take your social security card along with you when going to see your doctor or to buy medicines.