France is a country of paperwork. Every action (and often non-action!) that you take generates a corresponding document. We saw this during the Coronavirus lockdown, as France was the only country in the world that required its residents to fill out signed declarations, authorizing themselves to leave the house every time they went to the store or on a run.
Foreigners in France would have less headaches, I believe, if they understood that this is one of the fundamental differences from their home country.
France, having a centralized government, is also a country with strict geographic divisions of labor. For example, I could not file for naturalization at the Paris Prefecture (which I personally consider the “best” prefecture), if I don’t live within Paris’ 20 arrondissements.
Thus, in every single application you’ll file with the French authorities, you’ll need to a proof of address/proof of residency/justificatif de domicile. This document makes it clear which French authority is qualified (“compétent”) to process your application.
Frequently Asked Questions about Proving Residency in France
What satisfies the French authorities when they ask for a proof of residency?
The gold standard is the electricity bill attestation, the Attestation EDF – 99% of the time, if you have this and can share this, this will suffice for your proof of residency.
Basically, the French are looking for any kind of official document that you can share that clearly links you with that address. When I ask my clients to share a proof of address, I ask for an electricity bill (Attestation EDF), or water, gas, or wifi bill from the past three months. Any one of those documents, emitted by a well-established French company (Engie, Orange, etc.), is good enough for the French authorities.
I’m a renter. Can I just show a photocopy of my rent payslips (quittances de loyer), plus the lease agreement (bail/contrat de location)?
If the landlady/landlord is a private party (not a company), then no, this is not good enough. The mindset of the French authorities is that anyone could have forged this lease and rent payslips, that it isn’t official. If, however, the lease was signed with a rental agency, then yes, the lease plus a recent payslip with the corporate logo will generally suffice. Though I would still have you add a recent bill to solidify the file.
If I’m the landowner, can I show the property deed and that will suffice?
No, because the deed could be out of date. You could have sold the property since then. You can show the deed, in addition to showing a recent proof of residency.
What if I don’t have a lease agreement, and am just housed freely by a friend or family member?
If you do not have a formal lease agreement in your name, then you will share the following elements to satisfy the French authorities:
- A housing attestation (a very short, one-page document in which they attest on their honor that they are housing you)
- Photocopy of their ID if French, or residency permit if foreigner
- Proof of residency in the name of your host
- Photocopy of the lease agreement (this is to prove that your residence is décent, which is the French way of ensuring that there are decent living conditions for both you and your host, regardless of whether or not you’re actually living at that residence)
How recent does the proof of residency have to be?
It should be less than three months old from the date that you are filing. The advantage of the Attestation EDF, unlike an EDF electricity bill, is that the attestation can be generated at any time, on your edf.fr/ online account, in less than a minute:
How do I obtain the Attestation EDF?
What if I’m moving to France and they require in advance a proof of residency (like for a Visitor visa application), or if I don’t fit into any of the above categories?
Most consulates also accept reservations at Hotels or AirBnbs for your initial arrival into France. The reservation should be at least two or three weeks in order to be accepted.
Get Additional Advice on Proof of Residency and Important Immigration matters for France
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Daniel Tostado is a dual-qualified French-US attorney, and practices exclusively French in-bound immigration, with a focus on private clients.
To further discuss proof of residency in France, or other matters related to living in France, reach out to Daniel and request a consultation.