5 min

Support for foreign staff

This section provides basic information about the formalities for entering and staying in France to be able to work at INRAE.

Updated on 03 January 2020

illustration Support for foreign staff
© Fotolia

Formalities before your arrival in France

If you are a foreign researcher coming from abroad to work or study at INRAE, this section will give you useful information to prepare your stay, to explain what you need to know before arriving in France.

If you are a European Union citizen or coming from the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you can travel, live and work in France for an unlimited period of time, on the condition of holding a valid passport or an ID card.


If you are a non-European citizen, you must apply for a visa at the French Consulate of your home country. The length and the purpose of your stay will determine the type of visa you will apply for:


  • A stay less or equal to 90 days requires a short term visa (C visa) commonly known as a "Schengen Visa"
  • For a stay longer than 90 days: the French Consulate of your home country will provide a VLS-TS “Visa de Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour” (Long Term Visa approved as a residence permit) valid for one year.

VLS-TS is the most common visa for students and scientists. With this type of visa, you don’t need to apply for a residence permit at the Préfecture but must go through compulsory administrative procedures with the Immigration Services (or OFII for French Office for Immigration and Integration) within 2 months of your arrival.



  • You can stay in France for a maximum of 90 days if you hold a passport from one of the countries listed here
  • If you need to extend your stay you have to apply for a long stay visa at the French Consulate. Of course, these procedures must be taken care of before your arrival on French territory.
  • If you are a scientist you must follow the scientific procedure:

If you have a degree at least equivalent to a Master 2 you can apply for the Scientific/Researcher visa (“visa scientifique chercheur”) at the French Consulate of your home country. In order to do so, you must bring the hosting agreement (“convention d’accueil”) signed by our Institute. The Scientific/Researcher visa allows you to stay and work in France for a maximum of 90 days.

For a longer stay, you will have to apply for a residence permit.


If you plan to come to France with your family, you need to get a family residence permit (“titre de séjour vie privée et familiale”) altogether with your own application. This specific permit allows your spouse to also work in France. Please get in touch with the French Consulate, also, for your children’s arrival in France.


List of requested documents for foreign scientists
Valid passport or ID card
Birth certificate (translated by a sworn translator indicating family names and parents’ names dated less than 3 months before the arrival)
Translated marriage certificate
Family register (translated by a sworn translator)
Identity photos (size 3,5 x 4,5 cm)
Health record book, vaccination card or equivalent
For non-European scientists and PhD students: the original hosting agreement signed by our Institute
Diploma certificates (translated by a sworn translator: original and copy)
Social insurance certificate of Health insurance or European Health insurance card if you are a EU citizen.

> See the list of certified translators in France.

Unless your country is subject to an exemption, all birth, marriage, degree certificates must be legalized or bear an “apostille” in order to prove the authenticity of your documents. For more information >

Do not hesitate to get in touch with the French Consulate for more information regarding the “apostille”.

Income tax

Before your arrival in France you need to contact your local tax administration. Do check if your tax situation is going to change during your stay. If your stay in France lasts more than 6 months, you have to declare your income to the French tax administration.

  • You will need proof of income by your tax authorities for the previous 2 year period.
  • You will be requested to provide any certificate regarding your income tax and/or certifying you are not subject to taxes.

Some countries have signed a tax agreement with France so it is important to check if there is a specific rule regarding tax exemption for scientists who come to France. Check here if your country has set up an agreement with France.


If a tax exemption is mentioned in the tax agreement, you must fill in the form « Cerfa 2042 » along with a certificate indicating that you are a researcher, a copy of your residence permit and a copy of the tax agreement. Nowadays, the procedure is mostly done through internet.


> For more information about the French tax system



Upon your arrival in France

If you are a foreign researcher coming from abroad to work or study at INRAE, this section will give you useful information for your arrival and during your stay at INRAE.

Finding accommodation and opening a bank account

As soon as you know the exact date of your arrival, do contact the administrative team of your welcoming laboratory. They can provide you with information about accommodation:


  • INRAE can offer accommodation (rooms or small apartments) in some of its research centers.
  • State agencies, real estate agencies, private individuals can also offer rooms, studios, apartments and houses.
  • Our Institute is a Euraxess member. Euraxess centres give access to accommodation facilities to all incoming scientists throughout our INRAE Centres.

When you rent a place in France you must not only get home insurance (mainly for water and fire damage) but also civil liability insurance (against any harm you may cause to others). Several insurance companies can provide these policies.  For more information, you can search on internet for “assurance habitation, responsabilité civile”.


Also the Kastler Foundation has negociated a particularly attractive housing insurance (as well as health insurance) for foreign scientists. Banks can also provide commercial offers regarding these insurances upon the opening of your bank account.


Once in France, it is recommended to open a French bank account especially for INRAE employees (for salary transfer). It also enables you to transfer monthly rent payment which is often required by real estate agents. For the bank account opening, the bank will ask you to provide: copy of your ID card or passport, a work certificate, proof of address (electricity bill, lease agreement, etc).

Social security and healthcare coverage

If you are an INRAE employee, you will benefit from the French social security system (“Sécurité sociale” or “Caisse primaire d’Assurance Maladie for CPAM ” or “Assurance Maladie”). The social security reimburses most of your medical expenses at about 70%. Here is a specimen of the “carte vitale” which is sent to you after social security registration and opening of your social security rights.


Should you need any information about French health insurance rights, call the special advice line on:
- 0 811 36 36 46 from France,
- + 33 811 36 36 46 from foreign countries.


If you are not an INRAE employee, but you are coming from:

  • A European Economic Area (EEA) country:
    Before your arrival in France you must apply for the European health insurance card
    This card is valid for 1 year and allows you to be refunded for medical expenses incurred in France while remaining registered at the social security system of your home country.
  • A country which has signed Social Security bilateral agreements with France: you can be refunded for your medical expenses in France. Contact your social security centre before your departure. Check this link to get the list of bilateral social security agreements signed between France and other countries. You will also find the social security coordination agreements between mainland France, Polynesia and New Caledonia.
  • China, the United-States, India and Russia
    Check the useful guide edited by the European Commission

For non European citizens, non affiliated to the French social security, the Kastler Foundation can provide health insurance through negociated deals with “ABC insurance”.

Complementary insurance (health insurance, work accident insurance)

Complementary health insurance is recommended to cover the part that is not refunded by the social security. There are many insurance companies (or “mutuelles”) providing this service. We can help you to choose one of them.


Very important: if you are not an INRAE employee, it is compulsory.

If you are detached, and not considered an INRAE employee, it is compulsory to get an insurance for occupational injuries (work accident) either from your laboratory, your company, or your university, or to purchase a private insurance in your home country or upon your arrival in France (see hosting agreement).

Through the Kastler Foundation, you can find negociated offers related to complementary insurance for work or health issues.  



Practical information

If you are a foreign researcher coming from abroad to work or study at INRAE, this section will give you useful information to prepare your stay, to explain what you need to know before arriving in France, on your arrival and during your stay at INRAE.

Glossary and useful websites
French terms Translation and explanation
CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales)  French Office for Family and Social Allowances.
CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie or Sécurité Sociale or Assurance Maladie) French social security services.
CONVENTION D'ACCUEIL Hosting institution agreement.
OFII French Office for Integration and Immigration.
PREFECTURE http://www.prefectures-regions.gouv.fr/ile-de-france/Region-et-institutions
CROUS (Centre Régional des Oeuvres Universitaires).

In France, the Regional Centers for University and Schooling Action are public establishments in charge of welcoming international students, student accommodation, university catering services and student cultural life.

RIB: (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire) Bank Identification Slip.
EURAXESS It was created in 2004 at the initiative of the European Commission. This network aims at facilitating the mobility of researchers. More than 500 centers in 40 countries across Europe assist them (as well as the researcher’s family) in all matters related to their professional and daily life.
For more information, visit the EURAXESS portal: http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/index.cfm/services/index
Terms regarding housing
Freench terms Translantion and explanation
Housing insurance : housing insurance is compulsory in France for any rental, regardless of how long the place is rented for. Look in the yellow pages (search for “mutuelles” which are cheaper, but banks can also provide insurance upon the opening of a bank account).
Council tax: this tax has to be paid by any tenant, as long as they occupy their rental as of January 1st, of the current calendar year.
BAIL or CONTRAT DE LOCATION Lease: the lease is signed both by the landlord or his representative, and the tenant. French law requires that a number of terms be specified in the lease: the surname and first name of the signatories, the lease duration, the terms of renewal, and the terms of terminating the lease.




a guarantor is a person who is officially registered to pay your rent in case you cannot. But the guarantor can also be provided through local or regional measures. An example >

DEPOT DE GARANTIE Security deposit: it is considered a guarantee for the landlord in case of non-payment of rent or property damage. It equals about one month of rent (2 months for furnished places) and is usually asked when you sign the lease.
Initial inventory: an initial inventory is established upon your entry either with the landlord or the real estate agent. This document details all aspects of the rent: cleanliness, state of walls, floor, bathroom, heating system, etc. Make sure you carefully write all details since the document will be compared with the “exit inventory” and any damage or change can lead to a financial compensation to the owner (who is totally or partially protected by the security deposit).
Terms regarding health insurance


Certificate of rights: certificate/letter, stating your personal data and your social benefits, their validity.
FEUILLE DE SOIN Social security form: this form is given to you by the doctor, dentist or any medical specialist, in the event you do not have your “carte vitale”. This document enables you to be reimbursed for your medical expenses. It must be sent to the social security once you have signed it and put your social security number in the appropriate boxes. See an example >
You are asked by the social security to choose and have them register a “médecin traitant” (general practitioner - GP) for full eligibility to reimbursement. This general practitioner has to fill in the “déclaration de choix de médecin traitant”. Download form >
CARTE VITALE Medical card: this medical card bears your personal data and is needed for any medical appointment. For more information (French only) >
FRENCH HEALTH INSURANCE ADVICE LINE Information from an English speaking operator:
Dial: 0811 36 36 46 from France or
+ 33 811 36 36 46 from a foreign country.
Emergency services
Call number

For what emergency

Dial 17 to find a doctor in the evening, at night, or during the weekend A police officer answers the call and gives you the address and phone number of a doctor on duty.
Dial 17 for emergency medicine. A police officer will indicate the nearest pharmacy on duty.
Dial 17 for the local police station The National Police is responsible for public safety in France. You can contact the police station any time of the day.
Dial 15 for medical emergencies Such as heart attack, serious accident or poisoning. The local service for emergency assistance is called “SAMU” and works closely with public hospital emergency and intensive care units.
Dial 18 in case of fire and rescue services The fire brigade (“POMPIERS” in French) is equipped to deal with accidents and medical emergencies as well as fires.

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