As soon as you sign up for health insurance with one of the major providers (LMDE or SMEREP if you’re under 28), you’ll have to submit a few important documents in order to get the ball rolling on your Carte Vitale (health insurance card).

A few weeks after your enrollment, you should receive a letter in the mail with a temporary social security number (beginning in 08) and a notice that you’re officially enrolled with the ‘organisme’ you selected. While they go through the process of setting up a permanent number (beginning in 01 or 02), they’ll eventually realize that you’ve never been insured in France before. Sending the documents they require before they ask for them will facilitate the process of getting your carte vitale as quickly as possible (if it doesn’t blow their minds).

– Copy of your birth certificate with certified translation
– 2 ID photos (from the French photo machines)
– a ‘relevé d’identité bancaire’ or RIB, which provides your banking information so your reimbursements can be transferred directly into your account
– Déclaration du Choix de Médecin Traitant (Optional)

If you think you might be using your health insurance early on, you may want to select a primary care physician (Medecin traitant) early on, and submit the ‘Déclaration de choix du médecin traitant’ (CERFA form #12485). Having this form completed and on file with your insurer ensures that you get reimbursed the maximum amount possible every time you seek care. If this form is not on file when you’re treated, you may be reimbursed at a lower rate.

As soon as you get your temporary social security number, send these documents, along with a photocopy of your temporary social security card, along to the SMEREP or LMDE office so they have them on file. Then, follow up within a couple of weeks to ask for a progress report on your carte vitale.

Download the form to declare a Médecin traitant (Primary Care Physician) here: medecin_traitant.pdf

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