pensions For Members

When can I qualify for a French pension under the new law?

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
When can I qualify for a French pension under the new law?
An elderly woman takes a helicopter ride in France (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

France's new pension laws are now in effect - despite the months of strikes and protests against them - and the pension age will gradually rise to 64. But how does this affect foreigners' access to the French pension system?


Pension age

On Friday, September 1st the new pension laws were signed into effect - the most headline-grabbing effect of this is the rise in the standard pension age.

There are still certain professions - mostly physically demanding ones such as the military - that retain an earlier retirement age, but for most people the standard retirement age will gradually rise from 62 to 64.


Raising the age to 64 also means that workers in France will have to make 43 years of contributions - or 172 trimestres (quarters) - to qualify for a full rate pension. 

People who started work early - eg at the age of 16 - can retire on a full pension before they reach 64, as long as they have the required 43 years of work.

People who started work late - for example after prolonged studies - or those who had time out of the workplace (not including maternity leave, periods of unemployment or long-term sick leave) can retire on a full pension once they hit 67, even if they don't have the required 43 years of work.

It's possible to retire earlier, but your pension will be smaller because it's based on the contributions you have made throughout your career. 

If you've worked a mixed career - part of it in France and part in another country - see below for how combined pensions work. 

Timetable for changes

The retirement age will be raised gradually between September 1st 2023 and 2030, so the exact number of trimestres you will need to have worked depends on the year you were born.

Those born in 1960 need 167 quarters (41 years and 9 months of work), while in contrast, those born after 1973 will need 172 quarters (43 years). The minimum retirement age will slowly go up starting from September 2023 until 2030, when it will reach 64 for everyone.

You can see how many quarters you will need to have contributed in order to qualify for a full pension in France as a result of the reform in the table below.


Personalised estimate

The French government has also a personalised pension website where you can find out your entitlement under the French system - it has now been updated to include the changes from September. You can find it at and if you have worked and paid pension contributions for more than three months in France, you should be able to log in using your social security number.

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

You can also click on "mon estimation retraite" to simulate when you would be able to retire in France, as well as what your monthly pension would be when retiring at the minimum age versus the maximum age. 


The Local has created a guide on how to calculate your French pension that you can consult when using the website.

A screenshot of the homepage of France Retraite website.

Periods of unemployment (if registered with the Pôle emploi), maternity leave or absence because of long-term illness are taken into account and these credits count towards determining your total number of trimestres.

What about foreigners and people who have worked in other countries in addition to France?

Anyone who has worked at least one quarter (trimestre) in France has begun putting money toward France's pay-as-you-go pension system. This means that even working just two years in France could qualify you for a French pension - though the amount would be tiny.

Importantly for foreigners who might be lacking a ‘full’ career in France, the maximum age remains at 67.

If you have worked in both France and another country, the calculation for the total amount of your pension will depend on whether the other country you worked in is part of the EU/EEA or whether it has an existing social security agreement (SSA) with France. 


Assuming the other country you worked in was either part of the EU/ EEA or has a SSA agreement with France, then the main change due to pension reform will be needing to check your age of eligibility on the French side. You should consult the table above if you were born before 1973.

READ MORE: Pensions: What should I expect if I worked in both France and a non-EU country?

For example, if you were born after 1973 and worked in both Denmark and in France, then you could start receiving your French pension at 64 years old, but you will still have to wait until you have reached Denmark’s legal retirement age (66 to 68) to start getting the Danish portion as well.

But if you are a woman and you worked in both Austria and France, then you may be able to benefit from your Austrian pension before qualifying for your French one, as the current minimum retirement age for women in Austria is 60 years old (though this is being gradually raised as well). 

The sum for your pension will still be determined by the two countries working together to determine how much you will be owed from France, and how much will come from the other country. This formula will depend on the nature of the social security agreement between the two nations, however.

Once calculated, you will receive one sum from France, and another from the other country you worked in. Keep in mind, that this may mean you will need access to a bank account in the other country to receive your pension payout.

Phased retirement

The pension age was the most attention-grabbing bit of the pension reform, but it does contain other things as well, including an expansion of the 'phased retirement' scheme.

This allows people who are within two years of retirement age to drop down to part-time work and begin claiming part of their pension.

This existed previously, but the reform makes it easier to access, harder for employers to say no and also extends it to some self-employed people. Full details here


The reform also includes a rise in the minimum payment amount and expands access to pensions for groups includng carers - full details here 


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