New sights, unfamiliar words — there’s a lot to take in when you’re navigating your way through France for the first time. Here are some important things you should remember to do once you arrive in France.
Registering at Your French Institution
After you arrive in France, you will need to register at your new university or institution.
All students enrolling at public universities are required to register in person at the beginning of each academic year. Registration comprises two parts:
Administrative registration (inscription administrative): You will enroll in the national student health plan, choose a supplemental insurance plan (mutuelle), and pay any balance due for your tuition (unless you paid in full in advance). At the end of the process you will receive your student ID card. Visit your university’s website to find out the dates and other details of registration.
Academic registration (inscription pédagogique): In this second phase of the process, you will register for your courses, learn the dates and times of your classes, and receive additional information on grading methods and examination schedules.
Other higher education institutions (grandes écoles, etc.) have their own registration procedures, which are usually communicated to students well before the beginning of the academic year. Be sure to take note of any documents that you may be asked to provide at registration. Originals are often required.
Validating the VLS-TS Visa
If you plan to study in France for more than six months, you will need to get an extended-stay visa with residency permit (VLS-TS – Visa Long Séjour Valant Titre de Séjour), which must be validated once you arrive in the country by the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII).
All students must submit the following documents and pay a €55 fee:
the form requesting OFII certification that you received from the consular official who granted your visa,
copies of the pages of your passport containing your personal information and the stamp verifying the date you entered France (or the Schengen area).
Upon receipt of materials, OFII will contact the visa holder to ask them to report for a medical examination and, possibly, a follow-up visit.
Students enrolled at an institution in Paris must bring the abovementioned documents to the welcome center (Cellule d’Accueil) at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP), 17 boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris.
Some institutions (including many universities) have entered into an agreement with the OFII whereby their students may submit their documents to the institution’s international student office. Students are strongly advised to check with their institution on this point before arriving in France.
All other students must send the above mentioned documents to OFII by registered mail (return receipt requested) after arriving in France.