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What you need to know about claiming a French pension (even if you don’t plan to stay)

Have you worked in France for a few years and want to find out if you’re eligible for a French pension? Here’s what you need to know.

What you need to know about claiming a French pension (even if you don't plan to stay)
Photos: AFP

You may not have given retirement and pensions a second thought yet, but if you’re an EU citizen/resident who’s currently working in France or has done so in the past, chances are you’ll be eligible for a French pension. 

If that caught your attention, you might also want to know how much pension money you would get or how long you have to work to have the right to some form of French pension.

Here are the most crucial facts you should know about the French pension system, even if you aren’t planning to stay in France all your life.

What conditions do I need to meet to get a French pension?

As an employee in the private sector or a self-employed worker in France, you can receive a pension from the compulsory schemes that you have paid into.

According to the EU’s official site, the minimum period of work in France to be able to claim a French pension is currently 15 years. 

However, if you have worked in other EU countries as well, you may be able to add those extra work years outside France to the total in order to have access to a French pension. 

In France, the statutory age to apply for a basic retirement pension (pension de retraite) is set at 60 years for people born before July 1st 1951. 

The age increases by five months per year of birth, reaching a maximum of 62 years of age for anyone born from 1955 onwards (although there are cases when you can claim pension rights at 57).

It’s worth noting that the French government has recently been looking to overhaul its pensions system, although the retirement age is likely to remain at 62 regardless of other reforms.

Make sure you search on our page or on for the latest information.

So can I expect to get any pension money if I worked in France for less than 15 years?

Under the principle of aggregation of periods of work across EU countries, you could be entitled to a French pension even if you’ve worked less than the minimum 15 years.

Take this example:

Let’s say you worked in France for eight years and then move to Ireland and worked for a further 22 years before retiring (30 years total). 

French authorities are likely to recognize your entitlement to a proportional part of money from France’s national pension scheme, even if you worked in France for technically less than the minimum amount to qualify – 15 years. 

So how much will France’s national pension scheme pay me in this case? 

France will only calculate the EU-equivalent rate in this case – starting with the theoretical amount, the pension you would have had if you had worked all 30 years in France (let's say €1,200 for interest’s sake), rather than eight years in France and 22 in Ireland.

Then, it will determine the pro rata pension – the part of this amount which should be paid for the years worked in France: 1,200 times eight years in France, divided by 30 years in total (eight in France, 22 in Ireland) = €320 each month that you would get as a French pension. 

Remember that the sums mentioned are hypothetical, but you can use the calculation for your own situation. 

Use this link to find out more about the calculations other EU countries in which you worked use, under the “choose country” section.

Also bear mind that different EU countries have different retirement ages to be eligible to claim a pension from them. 

And what if I did work for the minimum 15 years in France?

In that case French authorities will make a double calculation.

They will calculate your national pension for the 15 years worked in France (let’s say €800). 

They will also calculate a theoretical amount, the pension you would have had if you had worked the full 30 years in France (let's say €1,500). 

Then, they will determine the pro rata pension, that’s the part of this amount which should be paid to you for the years worked in France: €1,500 x 15 years in France / 30 years in total (15 in France, 15 in Ireland, for example) = €750 per month. 

Is there anything else I should know about France’s pension scheme for now?

In a nutshell: the fact that it’s extremely complex. But just as with other aspects of the France’s welfare system, it can be very rewarding too. 

You’ll have to work 40-odd years to have access to a full state pension.

There are also mandatory supplementary schemes (AGIRC AND ARRCO) which add points and therefore extra money to your pension. 

When the time comes for you to claim your pension, you normally have to apply in the country where you are living or in the country where you last worked. 

That country is then responsible for processing your claim and bringing together records of your pension contributions from all EU countries you have worked in.

Because there’s an awful lot to process when it comes to understanding pensions, our advice is to pick up the phone and speak to someone who truly knows the French system and can offer up-to-date info relevant to your particular situation.

SEE ALSO: How the Brexit vote affects your UK pension in France 


Member comments

  1. Thanks for this useful information. However, what is the criteria for non Europeans to get the French pension, if they worked in this country.

  2. Is there a link to the 15 yrs of contributions requirement? I’ve been given conflicting information.

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Pension reform, investment, new jobs – Macron unveils France’s post-Covid recovery plan

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a series of economic measures, looking beyond the pandemic, although the much-anticipated pensions reform will be delayed until Covid is "under control".

Pension reform, investment, new jobs - Macron unveils France's post-Covid recovery plan
A nurse watches Macron's TV address on Monday. Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP.

Obligatory vaccines and the extension of the health pass made the headlines following Macron’s live TV address on Monday evening, but the President also sketched out his vision for France’s post-Covid economy.

Some of the measures he announced represent a return to the priorities he set at the beginning of his tenure, while others have been shaped by the pandemic.

Pension reform

There had been much speculation about a return of controversial plans to reform France’s retirement system, which were shelved at the start of the pandemic.

Macron confirmed that he planned to raise the retirement age – most people can currently retire at 62, but a number of ministers have been pushing to raise the legal minimum to 64.

READ ALSO France to tackle fourth Covid wave with stricter border controls, health passports and compulsory vaccines

“Because we are living longer, we will have to work longer, and retire later,” Macron said. “Not tomorrow, not brutally, and not in a uniform way because we will take the difficulty of a job into consideration.”

The government will begin consultations with workers and employers in September, but “will not undertake the reform so long as the epidemic is not under control and the recovery guaranteed,” Macron said.

This could mean his plans are not implemented before the presidential election in April 2022.

Macron also returned to a controversial point from the 2019 reform plan which lead to widespread protests: the abolition of the country’s 42 different pension regimes, which currently mean many public-sector workers can retire early. Under the new plans, these special regimes will be abolished for new employees, but people currently employed can keep the generous exceptions.

EXPLAINED: What are France’s special pension regimes?

The plan also includes a minimum pension of €1,000 per month after a full career. “A life of work must offer a dignified pension,” Macron said.

Unemployment reform

Changes to unemployment benefits will be “fully implemented” on October 1st. The reform was supposed to come into effect on July 1st, but in June, France’s Council of State decided to suspend certain elements regarding the way benefits are calculated.

“Uncertainties around the economic situation do not allow for implementing, at this moment, these new rules which are meant to support job stability by making benefits less attractive for workers alternating between short contracts and inactivity,” that decision stated.

“In France, you must earn a better living by working than by staying at home, which is currently not always the case,” Macron said on Tuesday.

From September, the government will also launch “a massive plan for the training and retraining of the long-term unemployed”.

“We have seen during this crisis the strength of our social model,” Macron said. “It’s a jewel we need to preserve. This social model rests on one foundation: work.”

Investment plan

During his address, Macron also emphasised the importance of economic sovereignty, and said an investment plan would be unveiled in the autumn following consultations this summer. The objective is “to build the France of 2030”, and to “reindustrialise, reconcile growth with ecological production”.

“We saw during this crisis the consequences of dependence,” Macron said, calling for French and European independence with regards to technology and primary resources.

Last month, the President announced a series of measures designed to stimulate French innovation in healthcare technology.

Support for young and old

Finally, Macron announced additional support for those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic – young people “who sacrificed so much even though there was little risk for themselves”, and elderly people “who more than others feared for their lives”.

In September, the government will unveil a new revenu d’engagement (commitment-based income) for young people not in education, employment or training. This “will be founded on rights and responsibilities”. This could resemble the garantie jeunes, a monthly benefit for 16 to 25-year-olds not in employment or training, created under François Hollande’s government.

For the older generation, Macron avoided specifics. “We owe them a great humanist ambition for independence, strengthened home care, modernised retirement homes,” he said.