Your carte vitale

Carte vitale

Getting a carte vitale is paramount. You’ll need it to go to the GP, pharmacy, hospital … here is a quick and easy way to get one. Some people think it’s complicated. It is if you look closely at all the institutions and types of allocations that you can get. However, it’s friggin easy if you just follow these steps.

What is it ?

How do you use it ?

  1. The Carte Vitale will help you navigate the french health system. You’ll have to present it when you go to the doctor, when you go to the pharmacy.
  2. This will facilitate the reimbursements whenever you have a doctor’s visit because you always have to pay upfront and then get your reimbursement (60% to 70% of the amount). When you have your carte vitale, it is done automatically and the funds are automatically wired back on your bank account. Otherwise, it’ll be a pain for you, because you’ll need to mail in some papers to the french public insurance, the sécurité sociale. 
  3. Lastly, it stores information about all the doctors you have seen and medicine you have ordered. This will be a great help to follow through on your treatments whenever you go and see another specialist.

What does it look like ?

It’s like a credit card for health and it fits perfectly in your wallet for you to carry around at all time.

Carte vitale design

On it, you’ll find your social security which is quite useful.  Because it’s a long number and nobody remembers it by heart. There is also mentioned the name of the person(s) covered by the insurance. Indeed, if you have kids under 16, they are registered and get health insurance via their parents.

Is it mandatory ?

It is mandatory to have health insurance provided by the state (yep and nobody will ever reverse that, wink to our American friends). Whatever your situation, if you’re an employee, unemployed, your own boss or a student, you’ll need to have health insurance.

Is it free ?

To get it, yep. But some costs may apply, especially to translate some documents into french.

How long does it last ?

All your life in France.

How can I get a carte vitale ?

The conditions to apply

To apply for a Carte vitale you need to : 

  • Have spent more than three months in the country
  • Be over 16
  • Own a bank account in France
  • Have your numéro de sécurité sociale, When you get you Social Security Number, you’ll get a paper form to request a Carte Vitale. You can toss the paper if you follow the online process.

What documents do I need ?

  • A copy of your passport
  • Your picture 
  • Proof you have lived in France more than three months. This is a “justificatif de domicile”. It can be an electricity bill, a copy of your lease etc… Any proof 
  • Your relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB) so you can get reimbursed. 

How to apply ?

The whole process can be done online.

The go-to website for your national health insurance is called (you might know that freaky movie of that Parisian girl with the short black hair called Amélie, but that website simply stands for “Assurance Maladie En LIgne” –  health insurance online. Creative!). 

You can also do it on the dedicated app on your phone.

That’s when the trouble may begin, because the whole process is in french but I’ll help you to navigate through all the steps.

Step 1 : Create your account on

Fill everything with your personal info etc.

Step 2 : Begin the process

Get on the website and look for the procedure to request a Carte Vitale.

It’s either in the frequent process in the middle of the page or, if you don’t find it click on :


  1. “Remboursement, prestations et soins” => Reimbursement
  2. “Être bien remboursé” => Getting reimbursed
  3. Carte vitale
  4. Finally click on “Commander une carte vitale” => Order a Carte Vitale

You can also find it in your personal space, there is an item “Mes démarches” and on the left a section “Carte Vitale”, click on it.

Tip : the french government set up a system that helps you connect to different bodies of the administration like the Impôts (Taxes), the health system etc. It’s called France Connect and it’s awesome.

Step 3 : Fill in and check the info

Select the person for which you want to order a carte vitale. Some info should be displayed. Just check it’s the right one, correct if you need and then upload the copy of your ID and you picture.

You’ll just need to validate your order in the end. That’s it.

You’ll receive your card within 2 weeks and in the meantime you can follow your order on 

Do I need to update my carte vitale ?

You have two ways to update your carte vitale : 

  1. Classic refreshment

You’ll need to do that about once every year. It’s very easy. You can do it in every pharmacy or when you have a doctor’s visit.

  1. Update the beneficiary of the carte vitale

This happens when you have a child covered on your own carte vitale until he or she is 16. To do so, just go 

What if I lose my Carte Vitale ?

No worries, just go to, in your personal space, you can declare the loss or theft of your carte vitale.

Tips and tricks 

  • Please don’t call the vital card
  • You can do the whole process either on the app or the website of AMELI, don’t register or give any information on any other platform.
  • The France connect thingy
  • Update your carte vitale every year. You can do so in a pharmacy or during a doctor’s visit
  • Never send the original documents, always copies.
  • When you get you Social Security Number, you’ll get a paper form to request a Carte Vitale. You can toss the paper if you follow the online process.

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