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How to Move to France as an American

how to move to france as an american

Do you ever find yourself wondering if you could move to France from America? If the idea of living among beautiful landscapes, rich history, and incredible food excites you, you’re not alone. Many people dream about making France their new home.

In this blog, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to turn that dream into reality. From navigating the visa process to finding the perfect baguette, we’ve got you covered. So, are you ready to dive in? Let’s get started on your exciting journey to living in France!

Benefits of Moving to France as an American

There are plenty of reasons that people want to move to France from the USA. From its beautiful and diverse scenery to affordable education and a strong emphasis on work-life balance. We’re going to quickly run through these benefits with you right now.

Diverse Scenery

In France, it’s possible to experience incredible views, no matter what part of the country you are in. Whether it’s the golden beaches of Biarritz and the French Riviera, or soaking in the lavender fields in Provence. There’s something for all types of nature lovers.

Affordable Education

The French education system is wallet-friendly while also being held in high regard. Generous government subsidies mean that pursuing third-level education won’t leave you drowning in debt when you graduate.

Work-Life Balance

The French have some of the best work-life balance on the continent. They seem to have cracked the code to ‘work hard, play hard’. With legally enforced time off such as 5 weeks of annual leave and the right to disconnect, you will have time for your family, extra projects, and your pastimes.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of moving to France? Be sure to check out our recent article here.

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US Citizen Visa Requirements for France

When moving to France from the US, you do not have the same freedom as EU citizens. Instead of traveling freely, you will require a visa to legally enter and stay in the country. The type of visa you require will depend on your intentions during your stay. There are a range of visas available, including Long Stay Visas, Entrepreneur Visas, Talent Visas, and more. Here are the most popular visas for Americans:

Long Stay Visa

If you plan on staying in France for more than 90 days within a 180-day period, the Long Stay Visa may be for you. There are sub-categories for the Long Stay Visa which are based on the reason for your stay, such as for study or work. 

The duration of the visa depends on the duration of either your course or your employment contract. Additionally, it may be necessary to renew your visa.

Long Stay Visas can set you back €50-€100, depending on the visa you apply for.

Entrepreneur Visa

Considering your next business venture in France? The Entrepreneur Visa could be your best option. This visa allows you to work as an independent contractor/freelancer or set up a small business in France.

You must be earning at least €20,147 per year to be eligible for this visa. This is the minimum salary of a full-time employee in France.

The Entrepreneur Visa costs €269 and will last for 12 months if your application is accepted. Do you plan on staying for longer than 12 months? You can apply for a visa renewal at the local prefecture. Do this 2 months before your visa expires.

Talent Visa

The Talent visa has a variety of categories. Similarly to the Long Stay Visa, it has different eligibility requirements depending on the type of Passport visa you apply for. Talent Visas can be for highly skilled American citizens looking to work in France, it can be for American researchers who wish to study for a PhD in France, for artists or for investors planning to invest in French companies.

The duration of your visa also depends on the Talent visa you apply for. It typically lasts for at least 12 months with the option to renew.

The Talent visa can cost between €99 and €324.

If you want to find out which passport is best for your needs, speak to our friendly team!

What to Know About Taxes as an American Citizen Moving to France

how to move to france as an american

When moving to France an an American, you will have to prepare tax documentation. 

You are a French tax resident if : 

  • You have your home (household) in France. This means you live there habitually and permanently with your spouse (or civil union and possibly your children) or alone (center of vital interests).
  • If you do not have a home (household), you are a French tax resident if you stay in France more than 183 days . There is an exception. You can be considered a French tax resident – even if you stay for less than 183 days a year, as long as you stay in France for a period of time that is significantly longer than the periods spent in different countries.
  • You exercise a professional activity (salaried or not) in France. You carry out this activity in France on a principal basis if you devote the most effective time to it.
  • You have the majority of your economic interests in France. Meaning, the seat of your business, the center of your professional activities or the place from which you derive most of your income.

However, the USA may, based on its own rules of domestic law, consider that you also meet the criteria to be domiciled in the USA.

You can’t be a tax resident in two countries at the same time. To solve this, you can refer to Article 4 “Residence” of the tax treaty between France and the USA.

Here are the four steps used to determine your tax residency:

  1. First, look at where you have a permanent home available to you. This could be any place you own like a house, an apartment, a furnished room, or even a place someone is letting you use.
  2. If you have homes in both countries, then consider the country where your personal and economic connections are strongest. This includes where most of your family and social activities take place, where you work, and where you manage your investments.
  3. If you have strong connections in both countries, your tax home is the country where you actually live most of the time—meaning, you spend more than 183 days there per year.
  4. If you live in both countries equally, then the country where you are a citizen is considered your tax home.

Generally, if you have your family home in France or if you stay in France for more than 183 days of the calendar year, and the majority of your business or investing is in France, you will be considered a French tax resident. 

As a French tax resident, you have to declare all your worldwide income in your French tax return. 

As a non-French tax resident, you are only taxed in France on income received from France.

French Taxes

As a French tax resident, you will be subject to income tax depending on your income level. It is progressive, with rates ranging from 11% to 45%. You are also subject to social security contributions on the income received, and the rate applicable will depend on the type of income (salaried income, non-salaried income, rental income, etc.).

Dividends, interest and capital gains are subject to flat tax at a rate of 30% (12.8% income tax and 17.2% social security contributions).

To avoid double taxation in France and the USA on the same income, tax credits may apply.

Finally, as a French tax resident, if you own real estate in France and abroad and the net taxable value of your real estate (properties, real estate rights held directly or indirectly, real estate in trust, real estate in life insurance) exceeds 1,3 million euros, you may be subject to real estate wealth tax. 

There is one exception: if you transfer your tax domicile to France, after having lived abroad for at least 5 years, you will only be subject to the wealth tax (“IFI”) on the real estate located in France exceeding the threshold of 1.3 million euros. This exemption applies until December 31 of the 5th year following the year of transfer.

If you are a non-French tax resident, this real estate wealth management is applicable only on real estate located in France and if the net taxable value exceeds 1,3 million euros.

US Tax Obligations

Regardless of where you live, American citizens still have to file US taxes each year, once again declaring worldwide income. The main tax documents you will need are Form 1040, FBAR, and Form 8938.

The good news is that the US and France have the Double Taxation Treaty which prevents you from paying tax in both countries. The Double Taxation Treaty allows you to offset taxes paid in one country with credits against your tax liability in the other country.  

Organizing your taxes in France when moving from America can be a bit of a maze.It is important to reach out to our dedicated team of tax immigration lawyers to ensure you’re filing for the correct taxes, to determine whether your income is taxable in France or the USA, whether it qualifies for tax credits, etc., in accordance with the French law and the tax treaty between France and the USA.

Top 5 Places to Live in France as an American

Now that you have learned about the visas and tax options available to you, it’s time to discover some of the best places to live in France as an American. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite destinations below.


how to move to paris as an american

Of course, we will start with the capital of France due to its vibrant cultural scene, world-famous cuisine, and endless professional opportunities. Industries such as art, fashion, and finance are booming in Paris making it an attractive destination for Americans. However, Paris has the highest cost of living in the country, so make sure you can afford to live here.


relocate to lyon as an american

As the third largest city in France, Lyon has a unique blend of modernity and tradition, while remaining less crowded and maintaining a lower cost of living than Paris. Lyon is also located near the Alps, making it the perfect destination for both skiing and hiking enthusiasts.


move to nice

If nice weather is what you’re after, look no further than Nice. Located on the French Riviera, Nice boasts a mild climate, golden beaches, and a more relaxed lifestyle. In Nice, you will also have access to vibrant cultural activities, natural beauty, and some of the best restaurants in France. As a bonus, Nice is just a stone’s throw away from hotspots such as Cannes and Monaco.


relocate to bordeaux

Bordeaux is famous for its wine, but let’s not overlook the beautiful architecture and high quality of life in this wonderful city. Located on La Garonne, Bordeaux has stunning riverfront views and again boasts a cheaper cost of living than cities such as Paris. The Bordeaux-Merignac Airport is less than 15km from the city center and offers easy access to some of Europe’s largest cities.


how to move to toulouse as an american

Finally, we have Toulouse, or La Ville Rose, which has been aptly named due to its terra-cotta-colored buildings. Toulouse is a hub for the aerospace industry, offering some fantastic employment opportunities. Toulouse is also known for its large student community, which has resulted in a population of young, driven professionals.

So there you have our comprehensive list of places to move to France as an American. For more details about each of the above locations, you can read our article on The Best 5 Places to Live in France for English Speakers.

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Move to France as an American

Is it cheaper to live in France or the USA?

This will depend on where in the USA you are coming from and where in France you plan on living. In general, the cost of housing, healthcare, and education is a lot cheaper in France than in the USA.

Can I move to France without a job?

There are options for you to move to France without having a job. Visas such as the Job Search Visa and Student Visas allow you to come to France as well as Short Stay Visas.

Can a US citizen live in France permanently?

Yes, US citizens can move to France permanently, but there are several legal requirements involved. First, you must apply for your long-stay visa and be sure to renew it every year. Once you have been in France for 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency, or apply for French citizenship through naturalization.

Can I retire in France as a US citizen?

Yes, retiring in France is possible for US citizens, but there are several requirements you must follow before you are eligible. You must obtain a long-stay visa specifically for retirement. To get this visa, you must prove you have sufficient financial resources, private health insurance, and proof of accommodation.

Moving to France as an American is an amazing opportunity. Depending on your reason for making the move, there is likely a visa that is suitable to your circumstances.  As always, the legal eagles at Lexidy France are on hand to guide you through the process.

Can Lexidy Help Me Move to France from USA?

Absolutely! The expert team at Lexidy France is here to give you expert guidance to simplify these procedures and ensure that your move to France as an American is as seamless as possible. Whether it’s selecting the right visa, understanding your tax obligations, or even finding your new favorite neighborhood in France, we’re here to help.

Ready to start your adventure in France? Fill out the form below to get started, and let Lexidy guide your way to a new life in one of the world’s most enchanting countries.

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