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5 steps to getting care: follow the guide!

1.Receiving your Carte Vitale

The Carte Vitale is the chip card that proves you are registered with the Assurance Maladie. It is used to cover a portion of your health costs within France. It can be issued to people over the age of 16, and it becomes mandatory at age 18. Prior to that, you are registered as an “ayant droit”, which means that you are a dependent of your legal representative (parent or guardian) for your health coverage.

The Carte Vitale is the same size as a credit card and will fit in your wallet. You must show it every time you see a health professional: doctors, pharmacists, dentists, hospitals, etc., in order to receive timely reimbursement (within 5 days) of the so-called "mandatory” portion of the fee, which is covered by the Assurance Maladie, and in some cases for the co-payment (ticket modérateur), if you have a supplementary health insurance plan, a health mutual, or if you are covered by the CMU-C.

If you have lost your Carte Vitale or wish to receive one, you must first open an account on The website will ask you for your Sécurité Sociale number. You must provide the number of the person you are a dependent of (parent or guardian) here. Then select the “Mes démarches” section, followed by “Ma Carte Vitale”, and “Commander ma Carte Vitale” on the website, and follow the instructions.

When you receive your Carte Vitale, you will also be given your own Sécurité Sociale number, which will be printed on the card. This is your insurance identification number. This number is yours alone and you will keep the same one for the rest of your life.

Why, when, and how update the Carte Vitale? What should I do if I lose my Carte Vitale or it is stolen? You will find everything you need to know on!

2.Choosing your treating physician

The treating physician is your reference physician who keeps your medical records (i.e. test results, diagnoses, treatments, etc.). This will usually be a general practitioner working in an office setting, a hospital or a health center. You must consult this doctor first (with the exceptions discussed below) in order to follow the coordinated healthcare circuit (“parcours de soins coordonnés”, also discussed below!).

To search for a treating physician by specialty, location, fees or office hours, go to You must register your treating physician with the Assurance Maladie, using the “Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant” form, and you are free to change your treating physician whenever you wish to do so.

3.Following the coordinated healthcare circuit

The coordinated healthcare circuit involves entrusting your treating physician with coordinating your care. This means that you must see your treating physician first, except in the cases of gynecology, ophthalmology, stomatology, and psychiatry, where you may directly see a specialist.

► To receive the maximum reimbursement for your health care, you must follow the coordinated healthcare circuit

4.Choosing a healthcare professional, the reference health care website, includes a directory of health professionals which you can use to search by specialty, location, office hours and fees. Remember (see here) that health professionals can be sector 1 or sector 2 contracted, which will determine how much you will spend!

5.Sending the paper treatment form

The feuille de soins (treatment form) is the document you must send to your health insurance organization to be reimbursed for your health expenses. The health professional will fill in the feuille de soins with information about the visit: their contact details, your civil status, the date of the visit, the nature of the care provided, the amount paid, etc.

Thanks to the Carte Vitale, which is presented at each visit, the feuilles de soins are automatically sent to your health insurance organization in digital form. While remote data transmission of the feuilles de soins is now used by all health professionals, your physician may have trouble connecting to the system or you are unable to show your Carte Vitale. In such cases, your doctor will give you a hard copy of a feuille de soins to fill in, sign and send to your health insurance organization:

  • The CPAM you are affiliated with if you are on the general scheme;
  • The Sécurité sociale des indépendants if you are an independent worker (self employed);
  • The MSA if you are a farmer.

► Good to know: receiving care abroad

If you are staying abroad within the European Union, before you go, apply for your European Health Insurance Card (in French, "Carte européenne d’assurance maladie", CEAM). It will provide you with the same reimbursement of your health costs as you would receive in France. If you do not have it with you when traveling to an EU country, you will need to pay in full upfront.

Like the Carte Vitale, the CEAM is a personal, non-transferable, free card. But unlike the Carte Vitale, it expires after two years, so do not forget to have it renewed.

To receive it, simply apply online to your CPAM, or to the Sécurité sociale des indépendants if you are an independent worker, or to the MSA if you are a farmer.

If you will be traveling outside of the EU, we recommend taking out an assistance or insurance contract for the duration of your stay abroad. In some countries, such as the US, Canada, and some Asian countries, health costs can be very expensive.