Americans Retiring in France: Visas, Healthcare, & Taxes 

Americans Retiring in France: Visas, Healthcare, & Taxes 

For years, France has been one of the most popular destinations for US expats. And is it any wonder? With delicious food and a vibrant culture, France has all the makings of a dream home for Americans abroad. 

If you’re considering retiring to the charming cafes and sun-drenched landscapes of France, this guide is for you. We’re going to go over everything you need to know to get started on your journey overseas. 

Here’s what you should know when you’re planning to retire in France. 

Benefits of Retiring in France as an American 

Food and Drink 

France is known around the world for its delicious food and drink. Retiring in France means you can spend your golden years sampling everything from delicate pastries and savory cheeses to the finest wines. 

Cafe Culture 

Embrace the art of leisurely living with France’s cafe culture! Whether you’re sipping an espresso in a Parisian shop or enjoying rich wine in a rustic village bistro, France will give you ample opportunity to relish life’s simple pleasures. 

Beautiful Landscapes 

From the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the sun-kissed beaches of the French Riviera, France boasts diverse and breathtaking landscapes. Retirees can immerse themselves in nature’s beauty, exploring the country’s mountains, coastlines, and deep forests. 

Quality Public Transportation 

France’s efficient public transportation network makes it easy for retirees to navigate cities and explore the countryside. With extensive rail networks, buses, and tram systems, you can enjoy the sights of France with ease. 

Cultural Heritage 

France’s rich cultural heritage is evident in its art and architecture. When retiring in France, you can immerse yourself in the vibrant world of French culture by exploring iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. 

French Retirement Age 

The standard retirement age in France is currently set at 64 years old, with a requirement that the retiree has worked at least 43 years. 

Best Places to Retire in France 

Paris 

With a cosmopolitan flair and vibrant expatriate community, Paris remains a top choice for retirees looking for city living. 

Brittany 

Known for its rugged coastline, picturesque villages, and mild climate, Brittany offers retirees a tranquil and scenic retirement destination away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Provence 

Boasting a Mediterranean climate and stunning landscapes, Provence provides retirees with a sun-drenched paradise surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and lavender fields. 

Occitanie 

Situated in the southwest of France, Occitanie captivates retirees with its diverse landscapes, from Mediterranean beaches to historic cities like Toulouse and picturesque villages dotting the countryside. 

Dordogne 

Renowned for its natural beauty and laid-back ambiance, Dordogne entices retirees with its idyllic countryside, historic chateaux, and culinary delights. 

Alsace 

Nestled along the German border, Alsace charms retirees with its picturesque villages, wine culture, and festive Christmas markets, making it a delightful destination for retirement. 

French Retirement Visa 

France doesn’t offer a retirement visa. Most Americans hoping to retire in France apply for a VLS-TS Long-Stay Visa. This visa will allow you to live in France for up to a year without having to apply for a residence permit. You can then apply for a residence permit to remain in France longer. 

French Long-Stay Visa Requirements 

To apply for a Long-Stay Visa, you will need to gather these documents: 

  • A valid passport 
  • Photo ID 
  • Pension certificate 
  • A written promise not to engage in any professional activity in France 
  • Proof of income 
  • Proof of accommodation 
  • Travel health insurance coverage of at least €30,000 

Applying for a French Long-Stay Visa 

To apply for a French Long-Stay Visa, fill out the application form on the French government’s website. The process can now be done almost entirely online. You must apply within three months of your planned date of arrival in France. If you do not travel to France within three months of applying, your application will expire. 

Healthcare in France for US Retirees 

France’s public healthcare system is one of the best in the world. When you retire in France, you can enroll in the Assurance Maladie, which offers universal coverage to all French residents. This will give you access to a wide range of healthcare services, including: 

  • Doctor visits 
  • Hospital care 
  • Prescription medications 
  • Specialist treatments 

You can also supplement your public healthcare with a private health insurance plan if you choose. Private health insurance plans offer additional benefits and coverage options, providing more flexibility and access to specialized medical care. Many US expats make this choice to cover dental care, vision care, and elective procedures. 

Cost to Retire in France 

The cost of living in France is a bit higher than in some other European countries. The good news is that it is generally lower than in the US! 

Across France, the estimated cost of living for a single person is €1,800 per month (~$1,940 USD). However, this is just an estimated number. Your actual cost of living in France may be higher or lower depending on your location and lifestyle. For example, in Paris, the estimated cost of living can go up to €2,200 per month (~$2,370 USD). 

In 2024, the average Social Security check for a retired worker is $1,907 per month. For some retirees, it may be possible to retire in France using your Social Security income alone. That said, having some extra savings or an additional source of income will make things much easier. 

US Expat Taxes in France 

Wouldn’t it be nice if retiring overseas meant taxes were a thing of the past? Unfortunately, as an American living in France, you will be taxed by both countries—in theory. 

French Taxes 

When you retire in France, the French government will tax you on your worldwide income. France taxes various sources of income, including: 

  • Employment income 
  • Investment income 
  • Rental income 
  • Capital gains 

…And yes, pension income. However, the US-France tax treaty states that pensions are only taxable in the country they come from. This means that your US-source pension will only be taxed by the US, not both countries. (Though you will still have to report your pension income on your French tax return to calculate your tax rate.) 

You may also be required to pay a French council tax

US Taxes 

The US taxes citizens on their worldwide income regardless of where they live. Even while living in France, you will still have to file a US tax return. Of course, this could open you up to double taxation. The good news is that the IRS provides several tax benefits that you can use to reduce or erase your US tax bill. These include: 

The US also has a tax treaty and social security agreement with France, both of which can help ease your tax burden. To learn more, review this comprehensive guide: Expat Taxes in France: A Guide for Americans Living Abroad

FBAR and FATCA Reporting 

When living in France, you may be required to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) and FATCA report

  • If you had $10,000 or more in one or multiple foreign bank accounts at any point in the year, you will have to report it on an FBAR. 
  • If your foreign financial assets exceed certain thresholds, you will have to file a FATCA report. 

Neither of these tax forms will require you to pay any extra taxes. They are merely information returns, designed to keep the IRS up-to-date on your foreign finances. 

Let Greenback Help You Retire in France with Confidence 

Retiring in France is a major step. But armed with the right tools and know-how, you can make the process easier for yourself. We’d love to help! 

Greenback Expat Tax Services is an American company founded in 2009 by expats and for expats. We specialize in helping Americans around the world manage their tax obligations. 

We’ve helped more than 18,000 expats file over 60,000 returns in 193 countries. Doing your expat taxes may never be easy, but Greenback certainly makes it easier. 

Have questions about the process or next steps? Contact us, and one of our Customer Champions will happily address all your concerns.

Retiring in France FAQs 

What is the best place to retire in France? 

Americans retiring in France can choose from a variety of great spots. Paris is a popular choice for many. Coastal regions like Brittany and picturesque locales like Provence also appeal to retirees seeking more peace and natural beauty. 

What currency is used in France? 

France uses the Euro as its official currency, replacing the French franc in 2002. 

How long can you stay in France without a visa? 

US citizens can stay in France for up to 90 days (three months) without a visa. 

Can I receive Social Security benefits while living in France? 

Yes, you can receive Social Security payments while living in France. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides information and resources for retirees living abroad, including how to report changes in your address or banking information. 

Can Americans access healthcare services in France? 

Americans who retire in France can get access to a world-class healthcare system. You can enroll in the French public healthcare system or opt for private health insurance to supplement it. 

What is the cost of living in France compared to the United States? 

The cost of living in France can vary depending on the region, lifestyle, and personal preferences. However, for many American retirees, the cost of living in France will be lower than in the US. 

Confused about when you need to file? We can help.

When you live in the US, tax day is simple: April 15th! When you move abroad, it’s not so straightforward! Learn about all the expat deadlines and extensions you need to know to file.

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