Calling emergency services: police, ambulance

In an emergency, call 17 for the police or 112 for emergency medical services.
Their role is to provide assistance to everyone, regardless of their situation, even those without valid right of residence.

Verified by Gabrielle Hazan, Police Commissioner, on 03/03/2022

Police services

The role of the police in France is to intervene to protect you if you are in danger. 

There are two police services in France and their role is the same concerning domestic abuse:

  • the “Police nationale” covers urban areas and works from police stations called “commissariats de police
  • the “Gendarmerie nationale” covers rural areas and works from police stations called “brigades de gendarmerie”.

Police officers or “Policiers” and “gendarmes” have an obligation to respect human rights without any discrimination, even if you don't have valid residency rights.

  • You have different options to contact the police and ask them for help. 

    Depending on the location of your call, you will be put in contact with a police station.

    • In an emergency, call 17, a free phone number available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you do not speak French, an interpreter will be assigned to your call.
    • If you are deaf or hearing impaired, or cannot speak on the phone, send an SMS to 114 with your address. This service is available in French only.
    • You can go to any police station near you, either a “commissariat de police” or a “brigade de gendarmerie”, to tell them that you are not safe. You can find their address on this website.

    You can talk to the police online via chat. This service is available in many languages.

  • When you call the police, try to stay calm despite the emergency, and express yourself clearly.

    You can make it easier and quicker for them to handle your call by specifying:

    • the language you speak, trying to say it in French if you can 
    • the telephone number you can be reached on
    • the exact address of the place where you need them to go
    • the reason for your call.

    Listen carefully to their advice on what to do while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

Emergency medical services

If you need emergency medical care, for example in the event of an injury, you can call the emergency medical services, even if you do not have valid residency rights.

There are two services that can intervene in the event of a medical emergency in France: 

  • the emergency medical services or “Service d’assistance médicale d’urgence (SAMU)” . They have a team of doctors available in the event of a medical emergency, if the intervention of a doctor is essential.
  • the fire brigade or “Sapeurs pompiers”, also known as “pompiers”, who are specially trained to intervene in the event of illness, serious injury, a fire or road accident. This service is usually faster.

In the event of a life-threatening emergency, you do not need to be registered for state health insurance or have valid residency rights to be treate

  • You have different options to contact the emergency medical services and ask them for help.

    If you do not speak French, an interpreter will be assigned to your call. 

    • The easiest thing to do is to call 112, a free phone number available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They will send you a team from the “SAMU” or the “pompiers”, depending on your needs. 
    • The official number of the ambulance or “SAMU” is 15. This number is free to call and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
    • The official number for the fire brigade or "pompiers" is 18. This number is free to call and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
    • If you are deaf or hearing impaired, or cannot speak on the phone, send an SMS to 114 with your address. This service is available in French and English only.
  • When you call emergency medical services, try to stay calm despite the emergency, and express yourself clearly.

    You can make it easier and quicker for them to handle your call by specifying:

    • the language you speak, trying to say it in French if you can 
    • the telephone number you can be reached on
    • the exact address of the place where you need them to go
    • the reason for your call.

    Listen carefully to the advice you are given on what to do while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

Common concerns

  • If you do not speak French, an interpreter will be assigned to your call. They will translate your conversation.

    When the emergency services arrive on site, there are solutions to communicate with them, such as using a voice translation application. 

    If you have called the police due to domestic abuse, you can show them this letter.

  • In France, police officers or "policiers” and “gendarmes” have an obligation to respect human rights without discrimination, even if you do not have valid residency rights. 

    If you are ever treated disrespectfully and/or discriminated against, there are ways to report a violation of the law committed by "policiers" or "gendarmes".

    You can report a violation of the law:

    • to the “IGGN” if your situation was handled by “gendarmes
    • to the “IGPN” if your situation was handled by “policiers
    • to the human rights commissioner or Défenseur des Droits in the event of discrimination.
  • In the event of danger, you have the right to ask for assistance from the police, even if you do not have valid residency rights. 

    The "policiers" and "gendarmes" do not have the right to hold you in custody when they are intervening for your safety or if you contact them to report an incident you have experienced. 

    If you have called the police due to domestic abuse, please show them this letter as a reminder that they cannot detain you.

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.

  • This telephone counselling service is intended for people facing all types of violence and those who support them.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • On the telephone, a trained counsellor will listen to you and support you. They can then direct you to relevant services near you.
    • Available languages: French. Sometimes the following languages are available: English, Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, Mandarin, Chinese, Kurdish, Azeri, Polish, Hebrew, Farsi, Soninké, Creole, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi and Swahili. At present, these languages are unfortunately available at irregular and unscheduled times.
    • Contact: call 3919, available 24/7. The call will not appear on your telephone bill.
    • For people who are deaf, have difficulties hearing, people with aphasia or who have language impairments, you can access a service adapted for your needs by clicking on the telephone icon at the bottom right of the website http://www.solidaritefemmes.org.
  • Associations” are organisations that offer a range of services.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • The services offered vary considerably from one “association” to another. They can give you advice and sometimes they can assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • You will find a list of “associations” specialising in helping victims of violence near you in this directory by selecting your French department.

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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