Applying for a healthcare card or “carte vitale

The “carte vitale” is a healthcare card that ensures your healthcare expenses are easily reimbursed in France. It is free or charge. You can apply for one as soon as you have registered with a state health insurance organisation and have received your final personal number or "numéro de sécurité sociale".

Verified by Comede on 08/12/2023

How does it work?

The “carte vitale” simplifies healthcare cover and reimbursements. You can present this card at doctor’s appointments and at the pharmacy to have your healthcare expenses reimbursed. It is valid everywhere in France.

With the “carte vitale”, payment information is transmitted electronically to the organisation that manages your health insurance entitlements, known as the “caisse d’assurance maladie”. You will be reimbursed directly to your bank account, without you having to send any documents.


You must be registered with a state health insurance organisation

You can apply for a “carte vitale” as soon as you receive your final personal number known as your social security number or “numéro de sécurité sociale”. Final numbers begin with a 1 for men and a 2 for women.

How to apply

There are two ways to apply for a “carte vitale”, either online or by post.

  • You can apply online via your state health insurance organisation, for example

    Before completing the application, you will need to upload a scanned identity photo and an identity document.

  • You can also apply by post. You should receive an application form entitled “Ma nouvelle carte vitale” when you register with a state health insurance organisation

    Once you have received the form:

    • Check that the information on the form is correct.
    • Attach a colour identity photo in the place provided.
    • Attach a photocopy of your identity document.
    • Send the application to your “caisse d’assurance maladie” in the return envelope sent to you with the form.
    • The envelope is not prepaid, so you need to use a postage stamp.
    • If you do not know your “caisse d’assurance maladie”, you can contact a “Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM)” near you to find out more. Contact details can be found on this site.

After the application

You will receive the “carte vitale” within approximately two weeks if you apply online, and three weeks if you apply by post.

Make sure that the information on the card is correct. If there is any error, report it to your “caisse d’assurance maladie”.

A few things to keep in mind once you have received your “carte vitale”:

  • The “carte vitale” allows reimbursement of medical expenses within approximately one week. Once you have your “carte vitale”, take it with you to every medical appointment. You will receive the reimbursed amount straight to your bank account
  • On the rare occasion a healthcare professional is not yet equipped to accept a “carte vitale”, they will provide you with a receipt called the “feuille de soins”. You can then send this by post to your “caisse d’assurance maladie” so that you can be reimbursed. The reimbursement periods can take up to one month.
  • If you change banks, be sure send a new bank identity document known as “relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB)” to your “caisse d’assurance maladie” online on Ameli or by post.
  • Children aged 12 and over can have their own "carte vitale". This makes medical appointments easier when parents are separated, for example. You can apply for one on your Ameli account or on your personal account with your state health insurance organisation.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • Comede” is an organisation that helps immigrants and refugees to have access to health care.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They can assist you to access healthcare and help you with your paperwork, in particular via their telephone service.
    • Languages available: interpretation possible in all languages.
    • Contact: by phone.
  • The "PIMMS Médiation" are organisations that inform, guide or support in administrative procedures in many areas: access to public services, access to health care, applications for state financial assistance, tax declarations, declarations to “France Travail”, etc.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you can find a “PIMMS Médiation” near you in this directory.
  • Social workers or “travailleurs sociaux” and “assistants sociaux” are professionals who support people in their administrative procedures and help them find solutions according to the difficulties they are faced with.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • You can make an appointment to receive personalised advice according to your situation and help you with the next steps, for example: applications for state financial assistance, applications for social housing, registration with the French unemployment office “France Travail”, etc.
    • Available languages: mainly French.
    • Contact: you can request an appointment with a “travailleur social” with:

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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