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6 most useful French official websites

These 6 French official websites will guide you through the maze of French administration. Relocating to a new country can feel like a treasure hunt to find out reliable information. Knowing which websites provide solid and trustworthy information is key to answering your day-to-day questions.

The French government provides a lot of resourceful information online and I’ll show you where to find it. Out of the many governmental websites, I picked the 6 French official websites that provide practical resources for expats in France.

How to recognize a French official website?

All the French official websites show this logo in the upper left corner.

French official websites show this logo in the upper left corner of a page
logo used on French official websites

Another way to verify that a website is official is by checking its web address. French official websites have a website address that ends in or .fr, where .gouv stands for gouvernement (government).

French websites with a URL ending in or are always non-official websites.

1- Service-Public website

The concept of public service is of the greatest importance in France. Public service covers activities of general interest, whether the services are provided by the public sector or a private company. is pretty much where you should start whenever you have a question regarding how things work in France.


Service-public is the main French official website is the main French official website

Service-Public website usage

Service Public provides in-depth information on many day-to-day subjects: immigration, work, housing, education, benefits, taxes, driving, legal matters…

You will find answers to questions in regards to:

  • getting a visa to France
  • registering your car
  • moving
  • getting a divorce
  • paying taxes
  • getting PACSed
  • and much more!

Search Service-Public by theme or situation

You can browse pages by themes like Family and Education or by situation such as What to do when…

Legal matters on Service-Public

Service-Public is an excellent source for questions about your rights and obligations, for instance:

Online services on Service-Public

Service-Public also facilitates access to useful online services that are easily recognizable by this blue button. gives you access to online services
Access online services

Here are a few online services that you may need at some point:

Download Cerfa forms from Service-Public

On, you can get access to any available Cerfa form. If you’re not familiar with Cerfa forms, read What’s a Cerfa?

Here are a few examples of Cerfas out of the hundreds available:

Models of letters on Service-Public

Last but not least, you can download many models of letters. This feature is obviously a great help to non-French speaker. Letters can be for:

I cannot possibly list all the precious answers that has to offer but I can only convince you to turn to service-public for any question you have regarding how things work in France. This is definitely your #1 go-to website in France.

English translation

Most pages on Service-Public have a drop down menu to switch to English but unfortunately that option doesn’t change anything right now. The language menu is hopefully there as a promise for the future, fingers crossed.

In the meantime, you can use a webpage translator (Google translator for instance) to translate any page into English.

Service-Public newsletter

I advise you to subscribe to Service-Public weekly newsletter because it contains highly informative news articles about what’s currently happening in France. Topics vary greatly from the current strikes, energy prices, the start of daylight saving times or the latest measures implemented by the French government.

You will soon find out that many other websites from the French government redirect you to pages on

2- Local town hall website

Another great source of information is your local préfecture (main city of a department) website as well as your local mairie (city hall) website. Local town halls and préfectures offer a large number of services to their inhabitants and these services vary depending on your location. Your first step is figuring out your local city hall and préfecture websites.

Find your Local City Hall Website

In order to locate your local city hall website, on the service-public phonebook page:

locate your local city hall website
Locate your local city hall website
  1. Enter your city, zip code or department number in the search field.
  2. On your local city hall page, locate the Site web field and click on the link.
locate your local city hall website
Click on the Site web link to access your local city hall website

Local city hall website usage

Use your local town hall website to double check the paperwork you need when preparing documents for an application. One city hall can require all documents to be translated while another one might not ask for translations.

Most practical resources can be found under “Démarches administratives” or “Vie pratique” or “Formalités administratives”. Here are a few examples of services that you can get from your local city hall:

  • get a certificat d’hébergement (accommodation certificate)
  • declare the birth of your child
  • register a PACS

3- Local préfecture website

In order to locate the préfecture’s website for your local department, on the service-public phonebook page:

  1. Enter your city, zip code or department number in the search field.
  2. On your local préfecture page, locate the Site web field and click on the link.
locate your local préfecture website
Click on the Site web link to access your local préfecture

Local Préfecture Website Usage

Check out the “Démarches Administratives” section to learn about services available in your department. Most of the time, you need to make an appointment to be able to talk to someone at the préfecture.

Did you know?
The building of the main city hall is called “hôtel de ville” in big cities. “Hôtel de la préfecture” is the name of the building where a préfecture is located. Do not be fooled into thinking you can book a room there. 🙂

4- Foreign nationals in France website

This website is still fairly new and spares you a trip to your préfecture when it’s time to renew your residence permit or validate your visa.

Website: Étrangers en France

Foreign nationals in France website usage

On Foreign Nationals in France, you can:

  • validate a VLS-TS visa
  • renew or apply for a residence permit
  • apply for French citizenship
  • send a request for a work permit
  • declare a change of situation (address…)
  • get travel documents for a minor (DCEM)
  • purchase a virtual excise stamp for a residence permit

Most pages on Foreign Nationals in France website are available in English.

5- Impots.gouv website

As a French resident, chances are that you have to pay French taxes. is the website where you can create an account (individual and/or professional) to declare and pay your taxes.


Impots.gouv website usage

The Impots.gouv website is your go-to website to:

6- Ameli (French healthcare) website

Ameli stands for Assurance Maladie on line and it is the French healthcare system official website. Once you are ready to enter the French healthcare system, be sure to create your Ameli account.

Website: Ameli

Ameli website usage

Once you are in the French healthcare system, an Ameli account lets you:

  • communicate with CPAM through Ameli’s secure message system
  • checkout your medical reimbursements
  • link your mutuelle to your Ameli account
  • order your carte vitale
  • declare an accident caused by someone else
  • notify CPAM of a change of address
  • and much more…

Knowledge is power! Using the information provided on these 6 websites should considerably help you in your day-to-day inquiries.

To keep it up on your educational path, check out these French idioms that you’ll probably come across during your French life.

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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