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.
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 .gouv.fr or .fr, where .gouv stands for gouvernement (government).
French websites with a URL ending in .gouv.com or .gouv.org 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.
Service-Public.fr is pretty much where you should start whenever you have a question regarding how things work in France.
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
- getting a divorce
- paying taxes
- getting PACSed
- and much more!
Search Service-Public by theme or situation
Legal matters on Service-Public
Service-Public is an excellent source for questions about your rights and obligations, for instance:
- which repairs are the tenant’s responsibility
- consumer’s rights to cancel an online purchase
- how to file a compliant for noise disturbance
Online services on Service-Public
Service-Public also facilitates access to useful online services that are easily recognizable by this blue button.
Here are a few online services that you may need at some point:
- declare a change of address to multiple French institutions at once
- access your child’s middle school website
- redo your car’s registration
- check the number of points on your French driver’s license
Download Cerfa forms from Service-Public
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:
- cancelling your internet plan
- asking a rent receipt to your landlord
- closing a bank account
- requesting an attestation d’hébergement (accommodation certificate)
- many more situations when you are required by law to send a registered letter
I cannot possibly list all the precious answers that service-public.fr 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.
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.
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 Service-Public.fr.
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:
- Enter your city, zip code or department number in the search field.
- On your local city hall page, locate the Site web field and click on the link.
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:
- Enter your city, zip code or department number in the search field.
- On your local préfecture page, locate the Site web field and click on the link.
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. Impots.gouv.fr 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:
- declare/pay French taxes
- pay a public invoice (like your child’s cafeteria for instance)
- check a land’s property ownership and limits (cadastre)
- buy an excise stamp
- pay a parking ticket
- communicate with the French government for anything related to French taxes by using the secure message system from your impots.gouv account
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.
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.