For visa purposes in France, we can divide the world of international students studying in France into four distinct categories based on where you are from, how long you will be studying in France, and how old you are. Tourist visas can never be converted to student visas, so it’s important that you do your research up front and apply for the visa that is correct for your situation.
Students from within the European Union, Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, San Marino or the Vatican do not need a visa to study in France. In addition, students from these EU countries can register for the French State healthcare system using their EC health Form S1. The state healthcare system in France includes a shared cost element in almost all treatment, so most health care is covered at 70%. In addition, there are providers that do not follow the tariff conventions (non-conventionné), and therefore do not participate in the state healthcare system. Therefore it makes sense to include a supplemental or top-up plan to cover all providers and any shared costs.
The Schengen Visa is for non-EU students or travelers in France for less than 90 days. The Schengen Visa actually allows travel to 25 countries - you can learn more about it on our dedicated Schengen Visa Insurance page. To apply for a Schengen Visa, you need to show proof of private health insurance, valid in France, that has coverage of at least euro 37,500 and that will be valid throughout your stay in any Schengen country. The insurance company must have a representative office in the country.
Once you have received a letter of admission from a French institution of higher education, non-EU students studying in France for longer than 90 days need to apply for an extended stay visa. Once you arrive in France, you should have the visa certified by the OFI (Office Francaise de l’Immigration et de l’Integration) so that it will act as your residency permit throughout your stay.
If your university participates in the national healthcare system, you will automatically be enrolled in that
system upon registration at the university. You will have access to healthcare like any other French student.
However, remember that certain providers do not participate in the national healthcare system, and that national
healthcare pays most medical expenses at 70%. Therefore many international students (as well as French people)
buy a supplemental or top-up plan to cover these potential out of pocket costs.
For those non-EU students staying in France longer than 90 days and 28 or older, you will not be automatically enrolled in the national healthcare system. You will also need to show proof of private health insurance when you apply for your extended stay visa. As above, you will need to have your visa certified by OFI so that it can be used as your residency permit.