June 14, 2024

Getting a French SIM card

Using your foreign SIM card in France for calls and roaming can be quite expensive hence it is advisable to have a french sim card. Having a french telephone number is also important in making reservations, booking appointments and in many bureaucratic procedures during your stay.The major cell network providers include Orange, Free Mobile, SFR and Bouygues Telecom.

You can get these sim cards by ordering online, in the mobile provider’s boutique shops, electronic stores, tabacs and some select supermarkets. The payment plans for the sim cards can either be prepaid, pay-as-you-go and monthly subscription, monthly subscription being the cheapest option but with a requirement of having a current bank account and proof of stay (house address) in France.

Setting up and operating the sim cards is fairly straightforward but you can also seek assistance from the salesperson at the store. 

Opening a bank account

There is no legal requirement to hold a French bank account, therefore it is possible to live in France without having one. However, handling your finances from a foreign account will be challenging and potentially expensive. This is especially true in France when it comes to issues such as receiving wages and paying utilities.
You can manage your accounts and make payments using an offshore account if you haven’t opened a bank account in France. The majority of French businesses accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards. Bank ATMs can be used for free, but you should check for any fees imposed by your home bank and it’s crucial to pay attention to the French bank’s currency exchange rates.
There are generally three types of bank accounts available to individuals which include:
  1. Current account ( compte courant) – It is a simple bank account in France with no fees for the basic package and easy access to funds for managing daily finances. Numerous banks offer specialty accounts such as student, young adult and non-resident accounts.
  2.  General savings account (Livret) – it is a bank account used for storing funds for which there is no immediate use but has easy access and you can easily transfer money to and from your current account. Most banks also offer a tax-free savings account option.
  3. Long-term savings account (Compte a Terme or Compte d’Epargne Logement) – This is a higher interest account for saving money for things such as purchasing a house in France.

Major french banks that offer accounts suitable for foreigners include:

  • Banque Populaire (You can start the procedure of opening throu this >>link )
  • Credit Mutuel
  • Credit Agricole
  • BNP Paribas.

When opening a bank account in France, you will need to shop around and weigh several factors that may be important to you and these may include cost, ease of access, variety of services, other benefits as well as English-speaking services for those not conversant in the French language.

You can inquire about opening an account at any branch. Even at large banks in major cities, it’s possible that the staff won’t speak English, so it could be a good idea to bring a translator with you or request to take the documents with you so that you have time to understand it. Typically, branches are open from Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, closing only for lunch while some are open half day on Saturday.

The usual requirements for opening a French bank account as a foreigner include:

  • Proof of identity and resident status(passport with visa)
  • Proof of domicile (address)
  • French phone number
  • Proof of work or student status

If you plan to visit a bank branch, it is important to check and book an appointment as most banks are not open on Sunday, Monday and public holidays.

Getting Accommodation

In France, finding accommodation sometimes means you have to be ready to fight. Start looking as soon as possible and learn the required administrative procedures ahead of time so you don’t waste time once you’re in France.

If you have the student status (as a doctoral student), you can ask for accommodation in a student residence .

Searching for a house in France

Family, Friends, workmates

You can ask family, friends or workmates if they have a house to rent or if they know someone renting. For those doing exchange programes you can request your referent teacher for assistance.

Online search

You can also do a search through online apps or websites like Leboncoin and Seloger. For short term stay you can get a place in hotels or AirBnB.

The Accommodation Lease

Before moving in, you must sign a lease – a rental contract- with the owner of the house or with their legal representative (such as an estate agent). The lease is mandatory and constitutes proof of your location of residence. It establishes the conditions for the rental: duration, amount of rent and utility charges and terms of renewal or cancellation of the lease.

Signing up for electricity and natural gas

The renter pays the sign-up fees for electricity and natural gas. Contact a provider as soon as you move into the accommodation. Along with the two traditional providers, EDF and Engie, there are many newer operators on the market, so don’t hesitate to compare pricing on the site UFC – Que choisir.

Housing Assistance

Depending on your income and the type of lodging you have, you may have the right to one of the following forms of housing benefits: the “allocation de logement sociale” (social housing benefit) or the “aide au logement personnalisée” (personalised housing assistance). To find out, do a simulation or contact the Caisse d’allocations familiales (Family assistance fund) nearest you.

Comprehensive Household Insurance

Comprehensive household insurance is mandatory. It covers damage that your home may suffer (theft, water and fire damage) as well as third-party liability. Contact an insurance company to obtain coverage as soon as you know the day you will be moving in. You will almost always be asked to provide proof of insurance when you sign the lease.

Recommended Apps


  • AirBnB
  • Le Bon Coin
  • Se Loger


  • Respective bank apps (Banque Populaire app, Credit Mutuel App etc)
  • TapTap Send – sending receiving and money to and from abroad (Get Bonus using promo code TAPTEN)
  • Remitly (Get 15€ for 100€ sent, use link https://remit.ly/oijriv )
  • World Remit  (Get 15€ Voucher for 75€ send using Code promo NOAHN8)


  • SNCF Connect
  • Respective local transport apps ( Paris, Lile, Dijon etc)

Validating your long-stay visa

As soon as you arrive in France, you must validate your long-stay visa. The process is entirely digital. You can do everything remotely at home on your computer. You must validate your visa within 3 months of arriving in France at the very latest for you to be issued with a resident permit.

Requirements of validating your visa

  • a valid email address,
  • infromation on your visa,
  • your date of arrival in France,
  • your home address in France,
  • a bank card to pay online the fee for issuing the residence permit.

Steps on how to validate your visa online

  1. Log in on the website https://administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr 
  2. Enter the information on your visa: visa number, date of beginning and end of validity, date of issue, reason for stay 
  3. Enter the additional information: family circumstances, telephone number, email address
  4. Indicate your date of arrival in France and your address in France
  5. Pay the stay tax of 200 euros

Done! Your visa is validated.

Registering with your home country's embassy in France

It is recommended to register with your home country’s embassy in France in case of emergencies.

For Kenyans in France, you can register with the Kenyan Embassy in Paris through this link. https://kenyaembassyparis.fr/register