Tax, visas: Is there an English version of official French websites?

We review some of the key information pages used in everyday life in France

Navigating French admin websites can be very frustrating, especially if you do not speak French
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Reader Question: I have a second home in France but as my French is not very good, trying to do administrative tasks can be challenging. Is the information available in English? 

As expected, all government website services are provided in French as it is the main – and only official – language of the country. 

There is no requirement for official services to be available in any other language on the French mainland, unlike in some other European countries. 

During in-person appointments or phone calls, you may get lucky and have an English speaker, although they are not under any obligation to speak English to you, and you cannot request an English-speaking advisor. 

However, a number of government information sites (those hosted by the government, usually using web address) do have English translations. 

Any information hosted online via the service public website has an automatic English translation. 

The site – which has web pages on all main administrative declarations, public rights, overviews of different taxes, etc – has a translator embedded for all pages. 

Near the top of the article, there is a dropdown menu for the language of the page, and when you click on it you can choose to have the information in French or in English. 

Read more: Telecom firms, utilities: which offer English language services in France?

Some limitations with translations of French into English

Note, however, that the translations are undertaken automatically via software that effectively provides a basic word-for-word translation. 

This means in some cases the translations may not be clear, particularly for the more technical subjects. 

When translating an article into English the website displays a caution sign that reads ‘This page has been automatically translated. Please refer to the page in French if needed.’ 

If the automatic translation is complicated you could consider returning to the French version of the page to copy and paste any section that is unclear into a different online translator such as ‘DeepL’ or ‘Reverso’.

Some websites, such as Étrangers en France – used for renewing and validating visas – have a dedicated English translation for many (but not all) pages, as does the France-visas website

Others, such as the French tax site, are partially available in English, although most administrative tasks (such as income declarations) need to be made in French. 

The property declaration form (Biens Immobiliers) is available in English if you have yet to submit this. 

Read more: What changes require you to make new property declaration in France?