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Living and working conditions



Area - 640,679 km2

Population – 67,022,000

Official Language – French



If you are a citizen of one of the Member States of the European economic area or Swiss, you can freely move and stay in France for a period of 3 months.  You may be accompanied by close family members. You have the right to freely move and stay in France up to 3 months, regardless of the reason for your stay: tourism, placement, short-term employment, etc. This right may be limited.

If you wish to work in France as an employee or independently, you do not require a residence permit or a work permit.  Since 1st July 2015, this rule also applies if you are a Croatian worker.


They must obtain information from their consulate or from the French consulate in the country where they live.

Third country nationals with a long-term resident status in another Member State are not entitled to access the French labour market. After three months, if they can prove that they have sufficient resources and health insurance, they can obtain a ‘visitor’s’ residence permit, which does not allow them to work but is a first step towards changing their status (towards obtaining an employee status, if need be).

See website: www.immigration.gouv.fr - www.service-public.fr - www.ofii.fr

Ministry of Europe and foreign affairs:http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr



  1. PÔLE EMPLOI (French governmental employment agency)

All towns have a Pôle Emploi office which will help you in your search for a job. You can register at the office closest to where you live. For more information, call 0033177863949 or visit the website: www.pole-emploi.fr

  1. EURES (European employment services)

Eures advisers, who are attached to Pôle Emploi in a network dedicated to the international market, will guide you in your search on your arrival in France.

See website: www.eures.europa.eu

  1. APEC (Managerial Staff Employment Association) helps executives (positions of responsibility) and young graduates in their search for employment.
  2.  See website: www.apec.fr
  3. TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES charge the employer for their services, not the job seeker. See website: www.prisme.eu

These agencies are contracted by companies to manage the recruitment of certain highly skilled staff or those entrusted with positions of responsibility.

Examples of websites to visit: www.cadremploi.fr - www.cadresonline.com



Companies often have a ‘Recruitment’ area. Use a search engine or business directory to find their internet address. You can also search the following website: www.pagesjaunes.fr.


The specialised trade press enables companies to recruit staff by publishing their vacancies. You will find all titles and their links at: www.press-directory.com.



In France, at-source tax deduction entered into force on 1st January 2019. At-source tax deduction aims to adapt tax collection in a given year to real situations (income, life events) to that given year, without changing the original rules of calculation. It aims to close the one-year gap between the moment when income is received and when the tax regarding this income must be paid.

You must pay taxes if you are older than 18 years old and if you live in France, i.e.:

  • you permanently live in France with your family,
  • your principal residence is in France,
  • your main professional activity is in France,
  • your main economic interests are in France.

On the basis of the components included in the 2017 tax return filed in 2018, the tax administration has calculated the applicable tax rate of 2019. As soon as the first part of the income of 2019 is received, this rate is applied to the salary: the at-source tax deduction is automatic.

The payslip clearly indicates the applicable tax rate and the amount of the at-source deducted tax, as well as the salary before and after the at-source tax deduction.

For more information, go to: www.impots.gouv.fr


Tax deducted at source is calculated on the basis of the net taxable remuneration multiplied by the applicable tax rate.

How is the net taxable remuneration calculated?

Net taxable remuneration = net remuneration (gross - social security contributions) + CSG/CRDS (social contributions) that are non-deductible (i.e. not taxable).

Therefore, the amount of the taxable income is slightly higher than the received income since it includes, including the net remuneration, the non-deductible CSG and CRDS (social contributions).

This rule to determining the taxable remuneration is not connected to the at-source tax deduction which does not change the amount and the calculation methods of income taxes. The amount of the taxable remuneration is set out in the payslip or on your online personal space if you are retired.


For employees, tax is deducted at source by the third party which provides your income (employer, individual employer, etc.) depending on a tax rate calculated and forwarded by the tax administration. The implementation of the tax deduction is automatic.


Anyone who has a private dwelling in France on 1st January of the tax year must pay a local taxes. Communes vote on tax rates which, therefore, vary from one commune to another.

Owners also have to pay a property tax.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

Four rates apply in France:

  • The ‘standard’ rate of 20% (which applies to all taxable transactions for which no other rate applies).
  • The reduced rate of 10% (which applies to certain products or goods listed by law, for example, certain food products and certain types of renovation work).
  • The special rate of 5.5% (which mainly applies to certain medicines, some theatrical performances and certain press publications).
  • The specific rate of 2.1 %. It applies to certain press publications, refundable medicines or even certain shows. It should be noted that a VAT rate of 2.1% applies to online press services since 01/02/2014.

Other special rates apply in Corsica and overseas departments and collectivities for specific transactions.

See website: http://www.economie.gouv.fr/

Text last edited on: 05/2019


The cost of living will very much depend on the region in which you live. In France, the difference is particularly marked between the Paris region and the other regions (the provinces). Moreover, even in the same town, prices can sometimes vary greatly from one district to another.


As in many European countries, accommodation forms the main expense for most French households. In the Paris region, accommodation-related expenditure is on average 36% higher than in the other regions. Furthermore, the price of property in the city centre is generally far higher than on the outskirts.

For an idea of the cost of rent in the Paris region and in certain provincial cities, see the following section on this website: ‘4. Living conditions 4.5 Accommodation’.


The structure of the retail network in France is comparable to that in other European countries: there are either small retailers in town centres offering a wide variety of products and brands at fairly high prices, or well-developed retail chains (most selling goods online) located on the outskirts, which offer lower prices for mass-market products.

Here is a list of retail store names which you may find useful:


  • bread (one French baguette):  EUR 1
  • one metro/bus ticket: EUR 1.90
  • cinema ticket: EUR 10
  • standard rate postage stamp: EUR 0.80
  • a sandwich: EUR 5
  • a meal in a restaurant: EUR 15 to 20

Text last edited on: 05/2019



In France, education is compulsory from 3 to 16 years of age. There are state-run schools (secular and free of charge), private schools under contract to the State (which must adhere to the Ministry’s official guidelines and curricula) and other private schools who are not under contract. 



Primary school encompasses nursery schools and elementary schools.

  • Nursery school is for children aged 3 to 6 (children who are 2½ years old are accepted under certain conditions). On 13 February 2019, the French National Assembly voted to lower the age of compulsory education from 6 to 3 years of age.
  • Elementary school is for all children, both French and foreign, between the ages of 6 and 11. It covers five years:  CP (first year), CE1-CE2 (second and third years) and CM1-CM2 (fourth and fifth year).
  • Lower secondary school (‘collège’) is for children aged 11 to 15 and covers the first three years. In principle, all children receive the same education. The ‘Diplôme National du Brevet’ is awarded at the end of lower secondary school.
  • Upper secondary school (‘lycée’) is for teenagers from 15 to 18 years of age. It comprises three years called: Seconde, Première and Terminale (respectively the first, second, and third and final years of upper secondary school). Upper secondary schools offer a wide variety of subjects. There are two types of school: those offering a general and technological education, ending with the Baccalauréat, and those vocational schools ending with the CAP (certificate of vocational proficiency), the BEP (vocational training certificate) or the ‘Baccalauréat professionnel’ (vocational Baccalauréat).

The Baccalauréat is a qualification which marks the completion of secondary education and gives access to higher education.

  • Two-year courses: the DUT (Technological university diploma), awarded by IUTs (University institutes of technology), and the BTS (higher vocational training certificate).
  • Universities receive the majority of higher education students (approximately 1.5 million students, 10% of whom are foreign students). Admissions are conditioned upon the Baccalauréat or the foreign qualification, which give access to university studies in the country of origin. Universities offer a wide choice of subjects in 3 years (Bachelor’s Degree), 4 years (Master’s Degree 1), 5 years (Master’s Degree 2) or 8 years (Doctorate).
  • The ‘Grandes Écoles’ (competitive-entrance higher education establishments), such as the ENA (École Nationale d’Administration), the École Polytechnique and the HEC (Hautes Études Commerciales). Candidates work hard for two years in ‘Classes Préparatoires’ [preparatory classes] in order to sit national entrance examinations for these prestigious colleges.

See website: www.education.gouv.fr - www.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr


The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  • The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  • The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  • The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  • Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  1. a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  2. a language passport,
  3. certificate supplements,
  4. diploma supplements, and
  5. a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.


http://www.travail-solidarite.gouv.fr/ - Ministry of Labour, Employment and Health
http://www.pole-emploi.fr - Public Employment Service
http://www.economie.gouv.fr/ - Ministry of Economy, Industry and Employment
http://www.education.gouv.fr/ - Ministry of the national Education
Embassy of Bulgaria in France and Principality of Monacco
Address: Ambassade de Bulgarie, 1 avenue Rapp, 75007 Paris
Tel.: +33 1 45 51 85 90
Fax: +33 1 45 56 97 50
Emergency telephone: +33 1 45 51 85 90
Working hours: Mo – Fr, 09:00 – 17.30
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Embassy of France in Bulgaria
Address: 1504 Sofia, 27-29 Oborishte Str.
Tel: +359 2 965 11 00
Fax: +359 2 965 11 20
Consular Service
Address:  1504 Sofia, 21-A Oborishte Str.
Tel: +359 2 965 11 00
Fax: +359 2 965 11 71
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.














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