French Visa Health Insurance Rules Eased
Thursday 13 May 2021
The health insurance requirements for a visa to visit France have been eased.
Since the UK left the EU in January there has been a requirement for UK nationals who wish to visit France for longer than three months in 180 days, or to relocate permanently, to obtain a visa from the French Consulate in London.
One of the central requirements of that process is for the applicant to hold an adequate health insurance policy.
Hitherto, the Consulate have insisted on a comprehensive policy that covered all medical expenses for the entire period of their stay.
Applicants with standard travel insurance policies that covered only emergency treatment were being turned away by the Consulate, who also refused to accept the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if provided alone.
The GHIC is the replacement for the former European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by the UK government.
In a major shift of policy, that guidance has now been changed, although not for everyone. The Consulate have advised us that the policy change is in a 'state of evolution', so may change further.
In summary, different rules apply depending on duration of visit, the type of visa and the age of the applicant, as follows:
Stay in France for Under 90 Days
If you are visiting France for no more than 90 days in a period of 180 days no visa is required, as was previously the case. You need to be in possession of Schengen travel insurance, which you can have in tandem with a GHIC.
Stay in France for Between 90 and 180 Days
If you are proposing to visit France for between 90 and 180 days in the year you will need a Long-Stay Temporary visa, called a VLS-T, when the presentation of your Global Health Insurance Card will now be accepted as adequate medical insurance cover. Previously, the Consulate were insisting on full medical insurance cover stating emphatically that, on its own, the GHIC was not adequate.
You can obtain a GHIC at Global Health Insurance Card.
If you hold a valid EHIC that will also be accepted.
If you do not hold a GHIC, you will need to provide a private medical insurance (PHI), which must cover the whole period of your requested long stay visa, up to 6 months (VLS-T). Schengen travel insurance will not be accepted.
Stay in France for Over 180 Days
If you are proposing to stay in France for more than 180 days in the year, including those who are proposing to relocate permanently to France, you will need to apply for a Long Stay Visitor visa, called a VLS-TS, for which purpose you will need to provide a full private medical insurance policy (PHI), covering the whole requested period of the visa, up to 1 year.
However, there are indications from correspondence that we have had with the Consulate that they are considering relaxing the rule for holders of a British retirement pension, when it may well be that for such persons a GHIC may be sufficient. At the moment they are only accepting a GHIC, provided it is being accompanied by an S1, but as S1s are no longer being issued by the British government, this makes it inoperable. We await news on this point.
If that were to be the case, then for of a couple where only one is holds a British pension, their spouse or partner will still be required to hold a PHI policy.
Steven Jolly of the 180 Days in France support group says that: “News that the Embassy are now accepting the GHIC is a game changer and the inclusion of the EHIC will be hugely important for many people.”
French Private Health Policies
Whilst the change is obviously good news for French property second-home owners and possibly for those of retirement age, the requirement for full medical insurance cover remains in place for everyone else.
Fabien Pelissier, our health insurance partner states: “We have a range of policies that have been accepted for a visa, starting from €131 a month for a person in their 50’s. If the visa is refused on health insurance grounds, we offer a full refund of the premium.”