French documents – justificatifs

This guide explains which French documents are the most requested when you live in France. Getting familiar with common French documents will help you navigate the French administration maze.

Let’s start with some vocabulary.

Justificatif, attestation and certificat

A justificatif, an attestation and a certificat are French documents used to prove that a fact is true, like your identity or where you live. Let’s look at the differences between these proof documents.


Un justificatif is a French document that is not created to prove a specific fact. For instance, an electricity bill is a proof of where you live but its first purpose is to bill you for your energy usage. You can therefore use your electricity bill as a justificatif de domicile (proof of address).

Examples of justificatifs: justificatif de domicile (proof of address), justificatif de ressources (proof of financial resources).


Contrary to a justificatif, une attestation is a document which sole purpose is to prove a specific fact, like for instance that your house is insured. As an example, attestation titulaire de contrat is the name of the document your electricity provider gives you to prove that you have a contract with them. As a matter of fact, you can use your attestation titulaire de contrat as a justificatif de domicile…have I lost you yet?

Examples of attestations: attestation d’assurance scolaire (school insurance) and attestation d’hébergement (accommodation).


Thirdly, a certificat proves a specific fact but, unlike the attestation, it is an official document signed by an official entity like a university, a doctor or a company.

Examples of certificats: certificat de scolarité (school certificate) or certificat de travail (work certificate).

Now to complicate things further, you might be familiar with attestation de vaccination certifiée for covid-19. It means that the document is an attestation that has been certified with two QR codes.

Justificatif de domicile

Justificatif de domicile is probably the most requested French documents. You need to provide a justificatif de domicile to:

A justificatif de domicile is a proof of address and you can use either one of the following documents:

  • Rent receipt issued in the past 3 months (quittance de loyer)
  • Utility bill issued in the past 3 months (water, electricity, gas, or phone bill)
  • Insurance coverage certificate issued in the past 3 months (attestation d’assurance)
  • Last tax return (dernier avis d’imposition)
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If you live at someone else’s place, you should provide:

  • Proof of accommodation signed by the person where you stay. Print a proof of accommodation online for free. (attestation d’hébergement)
  • Proof of address of the person where you stay, issued in the past 3 months (justificatif de domicile)
  • ID of the person where you stay: passport, French ID (vérification de l’identité)

Justificatif de ressources

You can provide any proof of your financial resources as justificatif de ressources. You need to provide a justificatif de ressources to apply for:

Use any document that shows you have financial means, like for instance:

  • paychecks
  • employment contract
  • tax statements
  • bank statements

RIB ou relevé d’identité bancaire

A RIB contains your French bank account identification details. Read more about how to get and use a RIB and why you need one in France bank RIB.

Attestation de quotient familial

Some French family services ask you to provide your quotient familial. This is the case for:

  • School cafeteria (cantine)
  • Day camp (centre aéré )
  • Preschool (crèche)

Quotient familial is an amount in euros. Its calculation is based on

  • how much you earn
  • the number of dependents in your household
  • the aids and benefits you receive

Quotient familial reflects your standard of living (niveau de vie).

The higher your quotient familial is, the more you pay for services like school cafeteria (cantine). You need to be an allocataire (benefit recipient) of la Caf (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales) to get your quotient familial (and to claim family benefits). You can get an attestation de quotient familial (proof of quotient familial) on your CAF user account.

Attestion de quotient familial is a justificatif you need to provide when your kids go to the school cafeteria (cantine).

Quotient familial is re-calculated twice a year (in January and April). La Caf automatically updates your quotient familial every time your situation changes: change of job, divorce, marriage, new baby.

Les impôts (French taxes) also use Quotient familial but it is not the same amount as the quotient familial from la Caf. The calculation for taxes is slightly different and it is calculated only once a year.

Carte Vitale

close-up photo of a carte vitale

Carte Vitale is the French health insurance card for people registered with Assurance Maladie (French Healthcare System). As an American in France, you can enter the French health system after your first 3 months in France. Read Carte Vitale FAQ to know more about carte Vitale.

Acte de naissance (Birth certificate)

You need to provide a birth certificate when you get married, PACSed or divorced in France and your birth certificate needs to be less than 3 month old.

Unlike American birth certificates, French birth certificates are altered with life events such as marriage, divorces and death, which is the reason why French need to show a recent one.

Read How to order a U.S. birth certificate online if you need a birth certificate.

Revenu fiscal de référence (Fiscal revenue benchmark)

Revenu fiscal de référence is a number that reflects all the income from French sources for an entire household. It includes non taxable resources. You can find it on your French tax statement (avis d’impôt), along with your household composition (nombre de parts). You need to provide your revenu de référence to determine the amount of aids you can get, like energy saving aids when renovating a house for instance.

French government also uses revenu fiscal de référence to determine if you qualify for some social benefits like middle-school scholarship (bourse des collèges). You can be exempted from paying some local taxes if your revenu fiscal de référence is very low.

Attestation d’assurance scolaire (School insurance)

In theory, school insurance is not mandatory for your child as long as he/she does not go to school cafeteria (cantine), after school programs (garderie) or any extracurricular activity.

In reality, most children enrolled in a French school have to provide an attestation d’assurance scolaire at the beginning of the school year. This applies to primary schools (écoles primaires), middle school (collèges) and high schools (lycées).

Assurance scolaire covers:

  1. Liability insurance to cover the cost of injuries caused by your child. (Responsabilité civile)
  2. Corporal injury insurance to cover injuries incurred by your child. (Garantie accidents corporels)

If you already have a home insurance, there are good chances that it includes liability insurance for your children. The price of school insurance is pretty low (around 15€ a year) and you can purchase it from any insurer or from student-parents organizations.

A Cerfa is an official French fill-out form

What’s a Cerfa?

Cerfa is an official French fill-out form. You will certainly have to fill out many Cerfas in your French life. Every Cerfa is identified by a five-digit ID number followed by a two-digit number for the revision.

A Cerfa is comprised of an ID and a revision number
A Cerfa form has two parts, an ID number followed by a revision number

When entering a date on a Cerfa, remember to format is as day-month-year. Read How to write numbers in French to learn more about writing conventions in France.

There are hundreds of Cerfas and here’s a couple of situations when you’ll need a Cerfa:

  • Cerfa 10798*04 for an attestation d’accueil (certificate of staying with a friend or relative)
  • Cerfa 12753*03 to apply for French citizenship

Some online services can generate a Cerfa form for you. For instance this online questionnaire from Service Public automatically fills out Cerfa 13750*07 to register your car.

Now that you’re more familiar with French documents, how about you learn the 6 most useful French government websites.

Nathalie Nahmani

About Nathalie Nahmani

Nathalie is the creator of ma French Life. She moved back to France after living in Los Angeles for 20 years. She writes practical articles to help expats in France. Nathalie lives with her family in the French Alps near Grenoble.

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