Welcome to the third part in the ongoing series from your South of France chartered surveyor, Charles Mackintosh, dealing with how to adjust to life after moving to this beautiful region.

After parts #1 and #2 dealt with cuisine and education respectively, it’s time to move on to what preparations you’ll need to make should one of your family, or indeed yourself, fall ill or become injured, and need to access France’s healthcare system for treatment.


France is famed for the quality of its healthcare system and its citizens have an average life expectancy of 82 (more than ten years higher than the global average of 71.4), and was ranked #14 in the Legatum Institute’s tenth annual global Prosperity Index.


So, what steps do you need to take to make sure you can access France’s healthcare system?



Thankfully recent changes to the law which concerns how foreigners can access French healthcare have made the process much easier than it has been previously. Under the Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA) scheme, all legal French citizens – including immigrants – whose applications are approved, have the right to access state funded healthcare.


Before 2016, PUMA only applied to immigrants who had been living in the country for more than a year, so the change has been much welcomed by the many foreigners living in the region. Foreigners are now eligible for PUMA if they have lived in the country for three consecutive months and meet certain criteria:

  • They have lived in the country for less than five years
  • They aren’t in paid employment
  • They aren’t receiving pension from a European nation

Non-EU students below the age of 28 and British early retirees are also eligible to apply for PUMA, if they aren’t drawing a salary. If the application is approved, the government will then decide whether you must contribute towards the Unions de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d’Allocations Familiales (URSSAF).


Even if you’re covered by PUMA, there are still a few medical expenses you are likely to incur. There is a €1.00 charge for every visit you make to the doctor, for example – a scheme designed to discourage patients seeing the doctor for minor ailments. However, as most medicines and treatments across France are very reasonably priced, you shouldn’t find yourself too out of pocket.


Should the application be rejected, private health insurance is the only other option available. If you are relocating to the South of France as part of a job move, your employer should have registered you for social security and will likely arrange any necessary healthcare formalities on your behalf, but be sure to check with them. If you are self-employed you will need to apply for self-assessment under the Regime Social des Independants (RSI).



It should be noted that all the above information is correct at the time of writing, but it’s very possible the laws may change significantly following Britain’s exit from the European Union, due to be completed in 2019. If you are reading this article after Brexit has taken place, please be sure to double check any advice against the most up to date information available.


If you need a qualified and experienced South of France chartered surveyor to help facilitate your move to this stunning part of the world then look no further than Charles Mackintosh.


Please get in touch today.