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Applying for the CAF as an international student

The CAF is a form of support that the French government offers to all different kinds of people to help them pay their rent or help parents with children for example. The application can appear to be difficult and time-consuming, especially as it is in French, but we are here to offer you some advice and to give a quick rundown of what the CAF is and what you need to apply for it.

What is the CAF and why is it useful?

CAF stands for ‘Caisse des Allocations Familiales’ and it represents a great form of financial support in France, varying from support for young children to social security and housing benefits, just to name a few. In this article, we’ll be focusing on the benefits of the CAF for international students. The CAF is an extremely useful form of financial support for renting accommodation in France. If you are in a studio you can recaive as much as €200 a month, and if you are in shared housing you can recaive up to €180 a month. Evidently, if you are an international student coming to Paris to study at university or to work, this financial aid can make a huge difference when living in one of the most expensive places in the world.

Who can apply?

You will be eligible for the CAF if you are a student living in an apartment, a furnished rental, a studio or a flat share, in France, and if you are paying rent. If you are living in one of these types of properties, you cannot be related to the lessor (landlord) if you want to apply for the CAF and also the rental agreement must be made out in your name. If you are living in a shared housing and want to apply for the CAF, make sure your house mates apply as well. If not it could impact your acceptance. You must be living in the accommodation for at least 8 months in the year in order to apply, as well. If you are not from the EU or the European economic space, you will also need a residence permit.
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How do you apply?

The easiest way to apply for the CAF is online through their website, although, the whole website is in French. There are helpful overviews, in English, from CAF, with information on what to do. You will have to apply as a ‘non-allocataire’ at first until you get your ‘code confidentiel’, then you will be able to log into your own account online. Here is a list of the main things you will need during the application process:

  • First of all, you need a French bank account to be able to apply.
  • You will be asked to provide them with your housing agreement, bank details (RIB) and proof of income from the last 2 years, which can be your tax returns for the last 2 years in your home country.
  • It is best to apply as soon as possible after you move in as the housing support entitlement begins the month after you move in, no matter what day of the month you move in. For example, if you move in and apply at the start of September, your entitlement only begins at the start of October. However, if you move in and apply at the end of August, your entitlement will begin at the start of September.
    During the application process, you will also be asked for several documents and forms so it is best if you get these prepared early on in the process. These will include:

  • proof of address form filled out by the landlord, for the end of the application process
  • proof of identity, which will be either your national ID or your passport, and your birth certificate with a certified translation of it in French
  • for EU citizens, you will need proof of school enrolment and a copy of your EHIC card
  • for non-EU citizens, you will just need a valid residency permit
    So there you have it, an introduction to the CAF and what you need to apply for it as an international student. The CAF can represent a very useful form of financial help to anyone that needs it, so make sure you apply for it if it seems like something you will need during your time in Paris. You will need to fit all the criteria, but as there are already millions of people in France benefiting from the CAF, you will definitely be able to do it.


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