Moving to France For Members

Reader question: How can I get a French address before arriving in France?

The Local France
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Reader question: How can I get a French address before arriving in France?

It can seem like Catch 22 - you need a French address for a visa or to enter the country, but you can't rent a place until you're in the country. Here is how to secure your first French address.

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There are several situations where a foreigner wishing to spend extended time in France might need to show proof of address here - even before they have arrived in the country.

The first and most common situation is visa related - certain types of visa including the long-stay visitor visa require proof of accommodation as part of the application.

However, even when entering France for a short stay, non-EU visitors can be asked to show proof of accommodation

If you already own property in France this is easy - just show the deeds to your property.

If you intend to rent once you're in France, then here are some options for fulfilling the accommodation requirement:

Airbnb, hotel or similar

This is the easiest option if you do not know people already living in France - simply book an Airbnb, hotel, B&B or similar short-term accommodation for the initial part of your stay in France and attach the receipt or proof of booking to your application.

Typically, the booking should show at least three months worth of accommodation for a long-stay visa. If you are worried about price, consider prioritising a hotel or Airbnb that allows cancellations.

There is also a possibility that consular authorities will not accept this alone as your proof of accommodation, so it is advised to also write a letter explaining how you will find more permanaent housing once you get to France.


Staying with friends or family

If you know someone living in France, then they can provide an attestation d'accueil, which is a document that confirms you will be staying with them. 

This must be acquired in advance by the host, and then sent to the guest so that they can include it in their visa application or present it at the border as required.

Essentially, the host contacts their local mairie (for people living in Paris, Lyon and Marseille that's the arrondissement mairie) and requests the form for the attestation d'accueil (or form number n°10798) - you can find a sample copy of the form here.

If you're travelling as a family then spouses or legally registered partners plus children aged under 18 can all be covered by the same form.

The Local has put together a guide to requesting and presenting an attestation d'acceuil.

Signing a lease in advance

Getting an long-term rental on an apartment or house before you arrive can be tricky - landlords will usually require a dossier of documents including proof of your right to live in France if you are not an EU citizen and often also ask for a French bank account. Banks, on the other hand, usually require you to have a French address in order to open an account.


There are some agencies and relocation services geared toward foreigners moving to France which allow you to sign a short-term lease without having the full dossier of documents. Keep in mind that prices are likely to be higher than going market rates.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about your vital French 'dossier'

The other option is subletting - not all sublets are legal which means that you can be left in a vulnerable position if things go wrong, but it can be an option particularly if you know the person you are subletting from.

Showing extra funds

If you're coming to France for a long-stay on a visa then depending on your visa type you may need to provide proof of funds in a bank account - you can learn more about individual visa requirements using The Local's guide.

For tourists or visitors coming for a short stay who benefit from the 90-day rule, the alternative to providing proof of accommodation for the duration of your trip is showing proof of funds. This can be useful if, for example, you're planning to tour France as a backpacker or you simply don't want to commit yourself in advance by booking a place to stay for your entire stay. 

The gist is that tourists who are visiting for under 90-days must show that they can support themselves financially during their trip, which depends on your housing situation when in France.

Short-stay visitors must show at least €32.50 per day if they are being hosted by a French resident, €65 per day if they are staying in a hotel or Airbnb, or €120 per day if accommodation has not yet been secured.


What about once I have arrived in France?

After arrival in France, several administrative procedures, including opening a French bank account, will require a proof of address, or attestation de domicile

Usually, this is in the form of recent utility bills (phone, internet, electricity, etc) with your name on them or a rental contract. Property owners may also show their deed.

If you have not secured a permanent address in France yet and you are being hosted by someone, then you can ask that they write you an 'attestation d'hébergement'. This is a document swearing that you are currently living with your host. You can find a model for how to write one of these documents on the French government website Service-Public.

Keep in mind that an attestation d'hébergement is different from an attestation d'accueil. The former promises that you are currently living with the French resident in question, whereas the latter states that you will be hosted by the French resident.


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