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PENSION

EXPLAINED: The website to help you calculate your French pension

Looking to get an idea of what your French pension could look like if you have worked in France as a foreigner? Here is how you can simulate it with this French government website.

EXPLAINED: The website to help you calculate your French pension
Screenshot of the homepage for French website Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

As French workers debate over pension rights, many foreigners living in France have been wondering how they fit into the equation.

If you have worked in France under a French contract for at least one trimestre (quarter), then you have begun paying into the state pension system, because it is compulsory to do so.

Reader Question: How long do I have to work in France to qualify for a state pension?

However, you must keep in mind that the French pension system is ‘pay-as-you-go’ – meaning, you might only qualify for a very small French pension if you worked for only a few years in France. 

If you worked in both France and another country, and you are curious about how your pension will be calculated to reflect your working time in both countries, you can learn more HERE. Keep in mind that the situation is different for people who have ‘posted worker’ status. 

The remainder of this article concerns solely French state pensions. 

While there are complex calculations you could attempt to estimate it, we have some very good news that will save you some time (and a headache) – France has a simple and user-friendly website at which everyone can calculate their pension entitlements.

Head to the website info-retraite.fr and log in using your social security number (or France Connect).

If you have worked and paid contributions for more than one trimestre in France, you will find an account set up ready for you which shows your years of contributions in France, and what pension you can expect.

The advantage of the French system is that your pension contributions are deducted automatically, even when you change jobs, and the government keeps track of it all via your social security number.

Here is how to use the website;

You will start with a homepage resembling the screenshot below:

A screenshot of the homepage for Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Head to the top right corner and click on the link below “Mon compte retraite” which says “J’accède à mon compte retraite.”

Once you have clicked on this, you will be led to a log-in screen (shown below). You will have the option to log in with France Connect.

If you do not use France Connect, you can create an account by clicking “Créer mon compte retraite” in the lower right hand corner. You will need access to your French social security number to fill out the relevant information.

Once you have logged onto the website, you will find a screen welcoming you to your account.

This homepage has different sections such as your profile on the website, a visualisation of your working life and pension contributions in France (Ma carrière) and your pension simulator (found under “Mon estimation retraite“).

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr

To calculate what your current French pension looks like, and to simulate what it could be, you should click on “Mon estimation retraite.” You should be taken to a page that resembles the one shown in the screenshot below. 

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Accéder directement à mon estimation offers a predictive pension rate based on your current situation.

To simulate what your pension could be in the future, by adding in elements reflecting your individual situation – such as children, disabilities, and periods of unemployment, click “Simuler ma retraite.”

The website shows what you can expect if you retire at the legal minimum age (currently 62 but could rise to 64 if the planned pension reforms goes ahead) and what you can expect if you stay until the ‘upper age’ of 67.

It will also show you how many trimestres you have, and how many you need for a full pension. 

To simulate what your pension could become, you will have to fill out some further information. The first is your family situation – as shown in the image below, you will need to indicate if you have any children and if so how many.

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

Next, you will describe your professional situation – whether you are employed (Salarié), working as a freelancer or contractor or running your own business (Non salarié ou indépendent), a public sector worker (Fonctionnaire), or currently receiving benefits. Ignore the expatrié section – that’s for French people working abroad.

This segment will also ask you further details about your situation, like if you work full or part-time, what your average salary is, and more.

Once you have filled out the relevant information, you will be taken to a new page that offers a simulation of what you could earn as a French pension based on the information you uploaded.

Screenshot of Info-Retraites.fr (Credit: The Local)

The above screenshot provides an example of a simulated French pension for a person who has one child, and has worked all of their career, full-time, in the French private sector with an average annual (gross) income of €36,000.

Keep in mind that there are many different factors that are involved in estimating a French pension, so the simulation you receive may not perfectly predict what you will be owed upon retirement.

So what about people have have contributed to a pension in both France and another country?

When it comes to non-French pensions, periods of employment outside France may be combined with years worked in France to boost or qualify for the French state pension. However, it depends on which country you have worked in, and whether that country has a social security agreement with France.

You can learn more about this HERE.

READ MORE: Ask the experts: What foreigners living in France need to know about French pensions

This article is a general view of the pension system and does not constitute individual financial advice. If you are are unsure about your pension rights, seek independent financial advice.

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VISAS

‘Be ready to wait’: Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Now that Britain is out of the EU, just how much harder is the process of moving to France from the UK after Brexit? British readers share their experiences of applying for visas as 'third country nationals’.

'Be ready to wait': Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Whether you’re moving to France to live, or you’re a second-home owner wanting to spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in France, if you’re British you will now need a visa.

You can find more on how to apply for a visa, and how to understand what type of visa you need, in our visa section HERE.

But how these systems work in practice is not always the same as the theory.

To learn more about the process of getting a visa as a UK national, The Local asked British readers for their experiences of going through the system.

The consensus among respondents was that the whole thing was bureaucratic, though there were notable differences in experiences that ranged from the “easy” to the “complicated” and “time-consuming”, while the advice for future applicants was, routinely, have all your paperwork ready – and be prepared for a lengthy wait at one of the UK’s TLS centres

Appointments

Like most visas, French visas for UK nationals must be applied for before you leave home. You can find a full explanation of the process here, but the basic outline is that you apply for the visa online, and then have an in-person appointment in the UK in order to present your paperwork. 

Sue Clarke told us: “As long as you get all your paperwork together correctly and in the right order, the time it takes to receive your passport back with the visa in it once TLS has sent it off is only a few days.

“TLS – the centre which works on behalf of the French Embassy to collate your application – is so very busy,” she added. “That part of the process took hours even when you have an appointment.”

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: What type of French visa do you need?

“The visa process itself was fairly well run, and a decision for the initial visa was quick,” wrote Ian Sheppard, who successfully applied for a visa in July 2022. 

“Although getting the follow up residence permit was a pain, [and] took longer than expected, and there was little to no communication with severely limited ways to get in touch about the application.”

Sheppard thought that, biometrics apart, the process could have taken place online, and wondered whether the follow-up residence permit application could be more closely linked to the initial visa application, “rather than effectively submitting the same application twice”.

Georgina Ann Jolliffe described the process as “stressful”. 

“A lot of the initial stage was unclear and I needed a lot of reassurance about the visa trumping the Schengen 90 days. (The Local helped on that one),” she wrote. 

“[The] lack of ready communication was very stressful. It could be slicker, however staff at Manchester TLS were excellent.”

Jacqueline Maudslay, meanwhile, described the process as “complicated”, saying: “The waiting times for the appointment with the handling agent (TLS in the UK) are long and difficult to book online. We applied for a long-stay visa and were given a short-stay visa, with no reasoning and no option of talking to anyone.  

“We had met every criteria for the long-stay visa. There needs to be a contact link with the French Consular website directly for discussing visa applications.”

Handling agent TLS’s website – the first port of call for applicants from the UK – was a target for criticism.

“The TLS system is probably the most user unfriendly system I have ever used,” wrote Susan Kirby. “It throws up errors for no legitimate reason and even changes data you have keyed in. Dates are in American format so you have to be very careful and it can be very difficult to edit.”

Bea Addison, who applied for a visa in September 2021 with a view to retiring in France, agreed that it was complicated and believes the French system is chaotic and badly organised compared to other countries. “Even staff in the French Embassy in London were not knowledgeable of the process and documentation,” she wrote.

“The renewal in France was applied for in July 2022 … we have received an attestation that we will be granted renewal visas, which expired in October 2022, but we have not yet received a date to attend the préfecture due to a backlog.

Second-home owners

Many of our survey respondents were not moving to France, but were instead second-home owners who did not want to be constrained by the 90-day rule.

They have the option of remaining residents of the UK and applying for a short-stay French visitor visa – which must be renewed every year.

Second-home owner Peter Green told us: “Our appointment with TLS was delayed by two and a half hours and the whole experience was chaotic.

“We now have to go through exactly the same process again to get a visa for 2023. With second-home owners there should be a fast track that just involves proving financial viability, nothing else has changed. The system needs to be fully computerised.”

Second-home owner Alan Cranston told us his application met with no problems, but came with “unwanted cost and effort”. 

“Our six-month visa was for our first stint at our house in France in the spring, and that then overlapped our second visit in the autumn which was under Schengen. How that is handled seems to be a muddle (we did not leave the country for a day at the end of the six months, as some advise),” he said. 

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