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Can non-EU residents access French retirement homes?

We look at the residency rules for foreign people wishing to move into a French care home and whether they can obtain financial aid

We look at the rules surrounding access to French retirement homes as a non-EU citizen Pic: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock

Reader Question: I’m American and would like to know if non-EU nationals can access a state retirement home in France?

If you do not already live in France but hope to move into a French retirement home, you will first have to become a resident. 

For this, you will need to obtain a long-stay visa, followed by a residence permit (carte de séjour) at the end of the visa’s validity period.

Read more: Explainer: Long-stay French visas serving as residence permits

Once residency is obtained, there are no specific rules for non-EU citizens who want a place in a French care home and can pay for it themselves, according to an expert from the Nice mairie.

The different types of French care home 

French care homes – établissements d’hébergement pour personnes âgées dépendantes, or Ehpads – are for elderly people with medical needs, who no longer have full autonomy, although the independence levels of residents vary.

Around 20% of Ehpads are private and the remaining 80% are public – operated by local authorities – or managed by non-profit organisations.

On average, public Ehpads cost €1,631.70 per month while private homes cost €2,460 per month. Public homes often have longer waiting lists because of their more affordable prices.

There also exist établissements d’hébergement pour personnes âgées (Ehpa) retirement homes, which do often offer some healthcare services but they are less commonly found. Both types of residence are only open to people over the age of 60.

There are also résidence-autonomie sheltered accommodation services and unités de soins de longue durée, long-term care units which look after the most dependent elderly people, who are totally reliant on medical care and require constant supervision.

Aide sociale à l’hébergement 

France does offer financial aids for people who may struggle to pay the fees of their résidence-autonomie, Ehpad or unité de soins de longue durée, through an aide sociale à l’hébergement. 

This benefit is paid by departmental councils and makes up the difference between what a person can pay and the full care home or sheltered accommodation bill. 

You will need to apply to your local Centre communal d’action sociale (CCAS) or mairie for this aid, and they will transfer the request to the departmental council, which will carry out an assessment of your financial and family situation.

However, to qualify, you must: 

  • Be a ‘stable and legal’ French resident or have a valid residence permit. You should also have been resident in the department where the home is located for at least three months
  • Be 65 or over, or over 60 if unfit for work
  • Have less money at your disposal than the costs associated with the care home
  • Have a place in a home which is habilité à l’aide sociale: accredited to accommodate people receiving the aide sociale (which will generally not include private establishments)

In some departments, it may be easier to secure aide sociale à l’hébergement if you have a permanent residence permit or if you already have healthcare cover or means above a certain level.

Care home residents might also be able to access aide personnalisée au logement to reduce the amount of rent they pay, or allocation personnalisée d’autonomie, which can help with your dependency costs. 

You must also have a valid carte de séjour to access these aids, and both have other more specific criteria that claimants must fulfil.

In general, retirement home residents should be willing to use 90% of their own income from all sources towards their accommodation fees, although they should also have €110 left over at least.

You can find out more about French care homes in our ‘Inheritance Law and Wills in France’ guide, which is available here and priced at €14.50.

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