So you have made it through the France-Visas & VFS Global maze, obtained your long-stay visiteur visa (in the form of a sticker pasted into your passport), and moved yourself to France. Congrats! But we are not quite finished with the intake process just yet, there remain a few steps to be completed in France to make ourselves official residents. Thankfully they are not at all difficult.
Stephen already wrote about his experiences and the two basic assignments remain the same now as when he went through them almost a decade ago — we need to register our visa with OFII, and we need to complete a medical exam. The biggest change since Stephen’s time is that the registration portion is now done entirely online, and if that wasn’t great enough news, the process also involves fewer steps and requirements. It is completely painless (except for the 200 € fee) and can be completed in a few minutes.
The medical portion is also very straightforward, the only thing that requires forethought is that you will be asked to provide your vaccination records. Those will obviously be much easier to obtain when you are still in America so add that to your list of things to do before you leave.
Registration with OFII (l’Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) must be done within the first three months of your arrival in France. Since the process only takes a few minutes there’s no reason to put it off.
To start go to: https://administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr/
If you prefer there is an option to set the website language to English though it might still leave you with some French phrases just to keep you on your toes! Several options are presented, we want of course: Je valide mon VLS-TS (Validate your VLS-TS long-stay visa).
You will be asked to enter various pieces of information that are shown on your visa sticker, including the “from” date (de), the “until” date (au), and the “on” or issue date (le). Remember that dates are entered with the day first, then the month and year.
Under remarques (remarks) we will specify our visa type, for us this will be Visiteur. You will also be asked to select a Référence réglementaire (regulatory reference) number from a drop-down list. You can find this number somewhere on your visa in small print, for me it was R311-3 5° and I believe this should be the same for all visitor visas.
You will need to provide various pieces of personal information; all of it is straightforward and self-explanatory. Finally you will need to pay a fee that will cover the expense of your upcoming medical appointment. The payment can be made online with a credit card, but it wouldn’t be France if the process weren’t slightly convoluted.
First you will be sent to a site to purchase a timbre fiscal électronique (electronic tax stamp), and then you will need to return to enter the 16-digit timbre code given on your receipt as proof of payment. But at least you did not have to wait in line at the tabac to buy your stamp! At the time of writing the fee was 200 €.
Having provided proof of payment you are now done. Your visa is now registered and you will be assigned an identifiant (personal ID number) and password which you can use to access your personal account. We will use this same website and account a year later if we wish to extend our stay, and this ID number we are told is our official ID as a foreign national residing in France and “will be used in all administrative procedures while you are in France.” So probably best not to misplace it.
OFII Medical Visit
At the time your visa is registered you will be informed about the upcoming medical requirement, but this is just to forewarn you. There is nothing to do until they assign you an appointment time and place, in my case it was a further five weeks before I received my Convocation Visite Médicale (medical visit summons) by email.
This summons informed me of the date and location of my OFII medical appointment. I was additionally instructed to get a radio pulmonaire (chest x-ray) at a separate medical office of their recommendation. I needed to make the x-ray appointment myself, and it had to be performed before my OFII medical visit, as I would need to bring the results with me.
I walked down to the indicated radiology center and was glad I brought a printed copy of my convocation letter because they wanted to see it. (Buying a printer has been the best purchase I’ve made so far in France and saved me countless hours of walking to, and dealing with, the print shop.) Although the radiology lab was not affiliated with OFII they were used to having OFII immigrants come through so they knew exactly what I needed. Of course this visit was not to have the x-ray performed, it was simply to make the appointment. As they were apparently quite booked, the soonest they could schedule me for the x-ray was the day before my OFII visit! This seemed like cutting it a bit close for comfort but it all worked out.
It is entirely likely that in the larger cities these two steps (the x-ray and the OFII medical) are combined into a single visit, the way it was for Stephen in Paris. But if you find yourself in my situation, I definitely recommend not delaying at all to schedule the x-ray appointment.
Day of the X-Ray
I arrived at the radiology center at the appointed hour (for some reason these things are always at the crack of dawn). Along with my passport, I had once again, and as instructed, brought my convocation letter. Even though the convocation is not for the x-ray, it lets them know why you’re there to get one. After being checked in I was sent to a waiting room. A few minutes later I was summoned by a nurse into a small changing room where I needed to remove all clothes from the waist up. I was led to the x-ray machine which looked basically like a wall of glass. I stood on a little pedestal and was instructed to stand with my chest firmly pressed against the glass. At her command I was to take a deep breath and hold it (inspirez et retenez votre soufflé) while the x-ray was performed.
This done I redonned my clothes and returned to the waiting room. Barely ten minutes later I was handed an envelope with the x-ray image as well as a letter with their official conclusion: image thoracique normale. It was signed by Docteur Cockenpot, which I’m pretty sure is a name I hadn’t seen in America.
I was free to go, and there was no charge for this visit. I had spent less than one hour from the time I left my apartment to the time I walked back in my own front door. There are advantages to living in a small town!
Day of the OFII Visit
These are the list of items I was asked to bring to the OFII medical exam:
– Printout of my OFII Convocation (the summons letter I was emailed)
– Radiologies pulmonaires récentes (chest x-ray and letter)
– Carnet de vaccination (vaccination records)
– Comptes rendus d’hospitalisation (hospitalization records)
– Lunettes de vue (prescription eyeglasses)
– Carnet de maternité le cas échéant (maternity booklet, if applicable)
This appointment was held at my local OFII facility and also went quickly. After verifying my identity I was brought in to see the doctor. He posed a variety of questions such as my age, existing health conditions and whether I took any medications, marital and work status, and whether my teeth were in good condition (he took my word for it). He took my weight and height which was the extent of any physical “examination.”
I wore my glasses and even also brought my current eyeglass prescription, however I was not asked to show these. I had no hospitalizations to report.
He asked for the results of the x-ray which I had just taken, which I handed over. He then asked about my vaccination records. Of course the vaccine most on everyone’s mind today is the Covid vaccine. The question was asked if I had received it, and if you have by all means bring the documentation for it. However at the time of writing (February 2022) it is not obligatory to have received the Covid vaccine for purposes of your long-stay visa. Now if you want to drink a coffee outside a café, that’s a different story. 🙂
As for “regular” vaccines which is what they really want to know about, I had searched in vain for a list of requirements. As of 2018 France requires a total of 11 vaccines for children to enroll in school, but nowhere did I see what the requirements were for adult immigrants and of course most of us were born long before 2018. Although childhood vaccines in America are largely similar to the ones given in France, actual policies vary by state as well by which decade you were born.
My parents incredibly still had my little booklet from childhood in which was scribbled by half a dozen doctors the multitude of vaccines I had been given as an infant. I brought this with me to the appointment but I had a feeling it might not be considered the best possible record.
In anticipation that a more official (and legible) transcript might be appreciated, I had contacted my state health department before leaving the US. Practices no doubt vary from state to state, but in Kansas I was told that records are destroyed after 10 years. Being quite a bit older than that I found their policy to be somewhat inconvenient. No problem, they said, you can easily obtain a copy of your vaccination records from your old high school. Who knew the American public education establishment was the true repository of our nation’s vaccine records! Not me, as I had been educated outside of formal public institutions, but I list it here as another avenue you can pursue if you are looking for your own records.
There is yet another option, and that is to take what is called an “antibody titer test.” I was able to get one at my doctor’s office in America without trouble. It is a simple blood draw, and afterwards they provided me a nice printout showing my antibody levels for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chicken pox), and hepatitis B. I’d received quite a few other vaccines as a child but my doctor told me these were the main ones they tested for and I accepted his word for it.
I was right that the French doctor at my OFII visit didn’t seem too interested in looking at my tattered childhood vaccine booklet, but he had no problem with my titer results and proclaimed them satisfactory. I still can not claim to know what official list they are looking for specifically, but I suppose in the worst case they could ask you to retake some.
This ended the “examination.” I was returned to the waiting room and after a few minutes an attendant brought me two copies of a short letter titled Certificat de Controle Medical (Certificate of Medical Inspection). Along with my information was the following simple statement followed by the doctor’s signature: Remplit les conditions sanitaires pour être autorisé à résider en France, or, “Meets the health requirements to be allowed to reside in France.”
The attendant explained to me that one copy was for my own records and the second would need to be given to the prefecture at the end of my first year in France, if I chose to extend my stay beyond that point. If so, I would need to start the renewal process between 4 and 2 months prior to the end of my visa validity, using the same website listed above.
I was asked if I had any questions, the only one I could think of was, “Is there anything else I need to do?” The answer was no — I was free to live my life as a legal French resident for the next year.
Once again this whole process went very quickly, I was in and out in less than an hour. My interview with the doctor was conducted in French but I suspect he could have spoken English if necessary, and the attendant who dealt with me before and after spoke English.
A Note About Visas and “Titres”
The type of long-stay visitor visa we have obtained, and which was pasted into our passports by the French embassy before we left America, is called VLS-TS, which stands for Visa de Long Séjour – valant Titre de Séjour.
Translated that means a “long-stay visa that is valid as a residence permit.”
Technically speaking it is not itself a residence permit (titre de séjour), it is a visa that is valid as a residence permit. With this visa we can reside in France for one year without needing to do anything at the Prefecture. If we want to stay beyond the one-year validity period of our visa, then between 4 and 2 months prior to its expiry we need to apply to the Prefecture to renew our immigration status. It is then that we will finally be asking for a titre de séjour and if granted they will give us a physical carte de séjour visiteur (visitor residence permit card). This card will from thenceforth replace the sticker in our passport as our official identification.
I mention this in the event, that like me, you found yourself early in your research with a great deal of confusion about cards and permits and visas and stickers and their French translations, as many of these terms are used interchangeably by various people on the internet, and of course the process has changed over time and some information becomes obsolete. When Stephen went through the OFII process he received an additional sticker in his passport at the conclusion of the process. That no longer occurs. For our first year in France we will get nothing in addition to that, though as described in this article, we do need to register this visa with OFII in order to make it official.
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Thank you for the continuous education about the French immigration! Following this article, I’d also like to share my own experience with my visa that recently happened in early 2022 when it came to getting medical assistance in France, and which almost turned in to a crisis!
If social workers, for instance, PASS at any public hospitals in France turn you down because of your long stay visitor visa, please contact the organization, “Comede” for immigration law assistance! I was rejected by PASS at 2 public hospitals & 3 other organizations because of my “Visiteur Visa” as it prints on my passport; but Comede helped solve my ordeal!
Please know according to “Arrêté Ministériel” (Ministerial Decree), foreigners with long stay visitor visa can get medical assistance from public hospitals in France, and you don’t have to return to your country for urgent care or chronicle disease medicines before your visa expires!
Thank you so much for your in-depth piece. So helpful! The timing could not be better for me to read this as I have my convocation medicale with OFII in just over two weeks. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to get vaccination paperwork before leaving for Paris. I asked for my medical records from my current doctor but none of my childhood vaccines are part of that. Thanks for the heads up regarding being able to contact my high school or the option to do the antibody titer test which I will try to find here in France.
Did you end up and get a test in France? I am in the same situation where I brought my medical history but not my childhood vaccines and I am not sure if I need to do more before my appointment.
I just recently got my medical convocation but was not indicated an x-ray center on my convocation. Anyone knows what this might mean or how I should go about getting an X-Ray Appointment?
Vince you’re fine – in Paris they do it at OFII.
Hi Stephon et al,
First thanks for the wealth of information here. In Paris, do they give X-ray during the same “visite médicale organisée par les service de l’OFII” summoned in the letter?
The convocation letter I received doesn’t mention any separate X-ray facility, and the “visite médicale organisée par les service de l’OFII” is scheduled at Montrouge 92120, immediately outside the boundary of the Paris city proper.
Thank you for this article it is so helpful especially the antibodies test to replace the vaccination record. You mentioned that Référence réglementaire (regulatory reference) number from a drop-down list and the number can be found somewhere on your visa in small print, but for my VSLTS visiteur visa there is no reference. The R311-3 5° is nowhere to be seen. And I can’t further proceed the validation process without this number. Please advise if you know anything about it. Thank you.
Hi Angie, I have been trying to do some research on this and I am wondering if they might have changed the number. Is the “R311-3 5°” still one of the options in the drop-down list? If not, do you see a “L426-20”? Failing that, are there any numbers in the list of options that might match something on your visa?
Thank you for your reply. It’s still the same number in the drop down but on my visa there is no number 😅 it says “visteur” and validate en linge. It’s very strange I couldn’t find any information. I did write the consultant and see what they say….
Please do let us know if you get a response!
Hi Angie! I’m having the same issue as you with the number not being anywhere on the visa. Did you ever figure it out?
Hi all, I have the same exact issue with my visa. I did some digging and it looks like they’ve changed the numbers since May 1, 2021.
Before May 1, 2021, the CESEDA number was R311-3 5. After May 1, 2021, the CESEDA number is now R431-16 16.
Below are the sites I’m referencing. Does this look correct to anyone here? Since my visa was issued after May 1, 2021, (it was issued on June 26, 2022), I am thinking I need to put my “référence réglementaire” as CESEDA R431-16 16.
I am in France registered as a student but I also could not find the CESEDA number on my visa either.
I called: 0806 001 620 to get help (I think it is a french phone number so either call from a french phone or follow steps for calling from a foreign country).
The person ansering the phone only spoke french so he verified my phone number and had his colleuge call me back who spoke english.
She asked me the issue, I explained that the “Référence réglementaire” was not present on my visa. She promptly requested my email and then sent an explination as well as the solution.
I recieved the number that I needed.
Hope this helps!
I have the same issue, but my visa is for the Rech D’emploi. Did you hear back from the consultant? Thank you.
Thank you for this great write-up. I just received my visa, and in your write you say “you will be assigned an identifiant (personal ID number)” at the end of the online process. I just wanted to know, once I pay my 200€, do I instantly or very quickly (ie. within the next hour) get my French Foreign ID number?
I ask this because I am a little cynical, and can’t believe that the French would issue something that quickly! 😀
Thank you! And please keep it up! Your blog is a great resource.
Mine showed up within a few minutes after payment!
That number is automatically generated by the system.
You’re right about the slowness of their work efficiency.
You’ll discover more when you apply for a bank account.
(you may skip Société Generale, last year they told me that they don’t accept American clients)
Before coming to France, I was tired of Hollywood movies and Americans making fun of the slowness of the work efficiency here; but now I realize they were only telling the truth.
My neighbor had a extremely loud party until 6 am, I called 17 (to police), and I waited 90 minutes on phone to get to speak with someone who could take my report.
They said they would come; but they never did.
Also be careful, quite many businesses here, including Office Depot, do not accept returns even you have the receipt, it’s in a brand new condition and you just bought it within 7 days….
Thanks for the helpful information! We have our Certificat de Controle Medicale now but how to do we submit them to our local prefecture in Paris ? I’m not sure if it’s our arrondissement’s prefecture or the main one on cite. How do you make an appointment?
Hi Erin, you don’t need to submit your Certificat de Controle Medical to the prefecture at this point. Just hold on to it, and at the end of your first year in France when you go to renew your residence permit, then you will present it to the prefecture as part of that process.
Hi Luke, Thanks for getting back to me! We only have 10 days left in Paris so we feel like we are running out of time. We have a 6 month VLS-T (we didn’t realize we’d want to stay longer than 6 months when we applied) but we were still asked to the medical exam 3 weeks before our visa expired (we don’t have the two months that the visa renewal process asks for). I was under the impression that it was the wrong type of visa to be renewed in France since it’s not a VLS-TS. Our maybe we can use the same Certificat de Controle Medical to renew our next visa if we apply from the U.S. again this summer? Do you have any idea?
VLS-T –Long stay temporary visa
VLS-TS — Long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit
In that case again I think there is nothing else you need to do with your Medical Certificate. Your visa is temporary and is coming to an end, so that is that. It does seem a bit silly you had to get a physical right before you’re leaving anyway, but no doubt that’s just an ironic side effect of the slow moving nature of things.
I can’t predict what will happen if you return a second time on a VLS-TS, but my guess is the bureaucracy will have you go through the same physical again. It would probably be for the best, since by the time you came up for renewal on your one-year visa your existing medical controle would be quite old and it would be a shame for a renewal to be denied on that basis.
I wish you good luck in getting the VLS-TS back in the States, and may the process go quickly! The good news is when you return you will be old hands at all this stuff.
Thanks Luke! You have really put me at ease. I totally agree with you about at least knowing what to expect next time. Fingers crossed that they don’t totally change the process in the meantime. Thanks for the Blog!
Great info. Thanks. Quick questions. Do kids need to do this? We have a 10 and a 12 year old and it was unclear. Thanks, John
Hi John, I don’t have children so I can’t speak from personal experience. But you must certainly register their visas along with your own on the OFII website as described at the beginning of this article, and then you can see what instructions they give you with regards to medicals for the children.
My VLS-TS, long stay visa validation, was registered, and the fee paid on 27 March 2022. I have not yet received a text, email or letter from OFII for my medical visit. Is this an inordinate amount of time to wait for a notice, and if so, is there any individual or office that I can contact for clarification? I would like to begin the application process for a Carte de Séjour as soon as possible.
Thank you, Susan
Hi Susan, four months does seem like an excessive delay but then again this is France and it’s also summer.
I would certainly log into your OFII account and make sure a convocation letter might not have been attached to your request.
If not, you can try the “Nous Contacter” option at the top of the screen, “La validation de votre VLS-TS” for the drop-down “Votre question concerne,” and then fill out the rest of the form and hope for a reply.
Thank you so much for this, SO helpful.
I’m in Marseille and I just received my convocation letter vis email. Yay!
I have two questions if anyone can help:
1. I did the immunization titre and I have immunity for everything except Hep B. Will that be an issue?
2. Regarding the maternity record, I’ve had three births. Last time I did this in exam 2016, the physician just asked me a bunch of questions about my births. Anyone know what exactly they need? And do you think it’s a problem if I don’t have records? I had kids quite a while ago: in 1986, 1990 and 1993.
Hi Regina, I never saw an official list of what vaccinations they wanted so I can’t say whether they will want Hep B or not. Just go with what you have and if they want you to get something else I’m sure they’ll tell you.
As for the information about maternity records, again I can’t say, and again I suspect the official requirements are nowhere posted, if they even exist. As usual bring as much information or documentation as you have and see how far it gets you.
Looks like I have to get my own chest X-Ray here in Marseille, so maybe I’ll just see if I can get a Hep B vaccine at the same time.
I think I have some gynocological records that may have my pregnancies information somewhere. I’ll see what I can dig up and just take what I have.
Thank you so much – your advice is invaluable!
I invite you to return and comment here with what your experience ends up being in the matter of vaccines and birth records, as the knowledge would be of great interest to others!
Sure – I’d be happy to!
My appointment is the 29th of August.