Almost Fearless

Moving to France: Insights for Families and Business Owners Alike

France is one of those popular destinations where you know that if you want to enjoy a certain lifestyle and cultural enrichment with all of the food and drink that is available throughout the regions, you might decide that you want to make your visit more permanent.

If you are thinking about moving to France here is a look at how to make that happen and what things you need to know before you take the plunge. This includes an insight into the sort of bureaucratic hurdles you might have to negotiate, plus some tips on getting a visa, opening a bank account and finding a property.

Time for some patience

Once you have decided to start a new life or set up a business in France you will need to start making all the necessary arrangements with the paperwork so that you can turn that dream into a reality.

Probably the most noticeable aspect about the French is that this is a country where bureaucracy is engrained in the culture and just when you think you have seen all the forms you can manage to fill in there will probably be some more paperwork along shortly.

The amount of bureaucracy that you encounter may well depend on how complex your situation is and what you want to do when you arrive in France.

Some things are more straightforward than others in the country. For example, you shouldn’t encounter that many problems if you use a site like Drivek to source a motor vehicle.

The main thing to remember in terms of applying for your visa and finding a property to live in is to show patience and expect to take some time completing the task and filling in all the paperwork. If it goes through quicker than expected, that is a bonus.

Getting your visa

Your starting point in this process should be to visit the French Embassy website and then navigate to the relevant consulate appropriate to your current location.

You will be invited to book an appointment and guided to the paperwork that you need to fill in ready for your personal appearance.

It is not uncommon for each French consulate to have its own variation on the documents you need, although the general information needed to justify approving your visa will be the same.

Setting up a bank account

Once you have successfully negotiated the residency status aspect of your move it is time to sort out a bank account.

The best tip here from people who have been down this route previously is to get your application for an account in as soon as possible, as there will be yet another mountain of paperwork to fill in and documents that you will be asked to produce, including things like proof of income and your tax return details.

French banks will liaise with the IRS and other tax authorities and once everything is considered to be in order with your application, it could still take at least another 14 business days before you even get a final decision, let alone a bank card.

This is why you need to apply for a bank account as soon as it is feasible to do so, as it will take some time before you are in a position to carry out banking transactions with your own account in France.

Somewhere to stay

There is a definite process that you normally have to follow when moving to France and until you complete each step you can’t move forward.

A good example of this would be if you were attempting to rent a property in the country to start with, before considering the idea of buying something once you have settled into your new life and surroundings.

In order to sign a lease you will need the confirmation of your residency status and in addition to your visa, you will also need to have your bank account open. So you can’t secure a rental property before sorting out the other items first.

You might also be frustrated by the diligence displayed by property owners and their agents before granting you a lease to rent their property, but it is worth remembering that it is a complicated and time-consuming process (not really surprising when you think about it) if they need to evict you.

This is the reason why they will want to ensure you are the right tenant before agreeing to let you take the property.

France is a fantastic cultural gem that is justifiably proud of its heritage and lifestyle and it is perfectly reasonable to expect them to protect these attributes. If that means plenty of paperwork to negotiate before they welcome you as a permanent resident, so be it.



Marco Marlia is the CEO and co-founder of MotorK, the most important lead generation company in Italy for the automotive industry. He holds a degree in Economics, Financial Markets, and Institutions from Bocconi University of Milan, Italy. He started his first professional experience during College working for Merrill Lynch IPCG. Later he co-founded several companies like DriveK a unique car configurator for people choosing a car across Europe. DealerK is the branch of MotorK devoted to car dealers with over 2.000 clients and it’s the only automotive business in Italy certified as a Google Premium Partner. Marco Marlia is the co-author of the following books: Oltre Wikipedia (Beyond Wikipedia) and E-learning e Piccole e Medie Imprese (E-learning and small and medium-sized enterprises).