Are you considering retiring to France? Learn about French pensions, including rules, contributions, benefits, and taxes.

France’s lifestyle, culture, and food have long held a magnetic pull on working-age expats. Many people enjoy the country so much that they decide to retire there. There is, of course, a lot to think about if you wish to spend your golden years in the republic. Everything ranged from figuring out the logistics of moving to France and deciding where to live. You must also be familiar with the rules governing French pensions. For example, to receive a French state pension, you must typically work for a certain number of years. In some cases, you may also be able to transfer your pension plan from your home country.

The French Pension System

The French place a high value on having fun in life. Indeed, it is known as the art of French living (l’art de vivre à lafrançaise). And they maintain this zest for life throughout their lives. If you intend to retire in France, you will be relieved to know that there are numerous options for funding your golden years. The French pension system has three pillars: the state pension, the mandatory supplementary pension, and voluntary private pensions. Employees who want to increase their retirement savings can contribute to all three pillars.

France has a sizable retirement population. Nearly 15 million residents receive a state pension.

The French government intends to overhaul the country’s pension system. Proposals include gradually raising the retirement age and changing the amount of the minimum state pension. However, with a general election in 2022, any changes are unlikely to take effect until at least 2023.

French State Pension

Contributions to social security (sécurité sociale) also contribute to a French state pension (retraite de base or minimum state pension). These payments are required of all employees.

Remember that to receive a full French state pension, retirees must have worked for at least 42 years (40 years if born before 1952). For those born after 1973, the requirement will rise to 43 years by 2035. If you have worked and paid social security contributions in France for at least ten years, you may be eligible for a pro-rata French pension.

The state pension scheme allows retirees to receive up to 50% of their annual average earnings. Retirees born after 1953 are required to receive at least 37.5% of their earnings.

Compulsory Supplementary Pension

Workers in France also contribute to supplementary pensions, which industry associations manage. ARRCO (for non-executives) and AGIRC (for executives), which merged in 2003, are the most well-known. Employees and employers make contributions to these pension schemes on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Pension funds calculate your rates based on the number of points you have accumulated during your working career. Keep in mind, however, that your pension amount is typically calculated based on the average of your entire working salary rather than the best 25 years as with the state pension.

Pensions Advice And Support In France

While this guide provides general information about the French pension system, it is important to seek professional advice if you have any questions about how the rules apply to you.

In France, there are many English-speaking financial experts. Our accountant and financial advisor directories can be a good place to start. The French Pension Insurance Authority (l’Assurance retraite) can also help you retire in France and apply for a French pension.

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Claiming French Pension Refunds

When Can I Claim My Statutory Pension In France?

For people born in 1955 and later, the retirement age in France is 62 years. Under certain conditions, you may be able to retire sooner. If you have between 41 and 43 years of insurance period (depending on your birth year) or if you claim your pension after the age of 67, your pension will be calculated at the full rate. Please submit your claim at least six months before your retirement age.

Where Do I Apply For A Pension If I Do Not Live In France?

If you live in a country with which France does not have a social agreement, you must file a claim with the regional pension office where you last worked in France.

Can I Apply For A State Pension In France If I’m Still Working In Another Country?

According to European regulations, once you file a claim, your pension will be claimed from all of the schemes in which you have worked at the same time unless:

  • You specifically request that your pension be deferred in one of the countries
  • you do not meet all of the criteria to claim your pension in the other countries concurrently.

Does My Work In Another Country Affect My Pension Entitlements And The Beginning Of My Retirement In France?

Outside of the European Union, the terms of each bilateral social security agreement must be followed.

Check the implications of your health insurance before applying for a pension in France.

How Will The Pension Be Paid Out?

Pensions are not automatically paid out. You must file a claim with the pension office in your home country or the pension office in the country where you last worked. A liaison form will be sent to each European compulsory pension scheme to which you have contributed under European coordination regulations.

Who Is Eligible For Pensions In France?

French Pension Age

In France, you can retire at the age of 62. (It is 60 if you were born before July 1, 1951). Authorities, on the other hand, encourage and incentivize people to stay in their jobs for a longer period of time. For example, you can get a pension increase for each quarter of a year you work after reaching retirement age. It should be noted that people born after January 1, 1955, are not eligible for a full state pension until they reach the age of 67.

However, in some cases, early retirement is a viable option. People who have worked from a young age (the assurance retraite provides a calculator), individuals with a disability, or those persons who have worked in unhealthy environments are typically eligible for early retirement.

Workers in these categories can retire up to two years earlier than the statutory retirement age. Workers with disabilities, for example, could retire between the ages of 55 and 59. The key conditions can be found on the French social security website.

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In France, Who Is Eligible For A State Pension?

If you have worked in France for a minimum of ten years, you are eligible to receive a French state pension. You can also be able to transfer some pensions from your home country. This can be advantageous for certain expats who plan to retire to France.

What Happens If I Do Not Qualify For The Full French Pension?

Many factors can have an impact on your French pension. Low-wage workers, for example, can receive 85% of the country’s minimum wage. The minimum monthly payment is approximately €636. In France, people over the age of 65 are also entitled to a minimum income. Workers with full-time jobs are typically ineligible for this targeted minimum benefit.

Furthermore, keep in mind that your contributions determine your French pension payment rate. As a result, if you did not contribute for the entire term, you will not receive the full pension rate. This also means that you can retire at a lower pension rate if you are 55 or 57 years old (depending on the year you were born).

Pensions In France For Expats

Suppose you do not meet the requirements for a French pension, but you have worked in other European countries. In this case, you can combine the total number of years spent working to qualify for a French pension or receive higher pension rates.

The extent to which your previous periods of employment abroad are counted is determined by the country in which you previously worked and whether there is a social security agreement with France. So, France has bloc-wide agreements in place with the EU/EEA and Switzerland. Many non-EU countries are in the same boat.

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QROPS: Transfer And Consolidate Your UK Pension

Expats from the United Kingdom who relocate to France may be able to transfer their pensions into a QROPS (Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme). QROPS allows you to combine your pensions into a single plan. This helps you to manage your retirement funds more easily and avoid currency fluctuations.

QROPS has numerous advantages. However, they are not appropriate or accessible to all UK pensioners. Consult an expert financial adviser, such as AES.

French Pension Rates And Contributions

The amount of your French pension is determined by three factors:

  • Your Average Annual Earnings (Also Known As Salaire annuel moyen – SAM). The average earnings are the earnings on which you paid social security taxes. The SAM model was updated in 2008 to account for the top 25 earning years rather than a flat average.
  • Your Pension Rate. A maximum of 50% of the basic salary is available, with a minimum cap of 37.5% for those born after 1953. Your rate is affected by a percentage determined by how many conditions you meet. For example, if you worked more or fewer years than required, your pension rate changes by a set percentage amount.
  • The Total Period Of Insurance. This typically includes periods when you paid into a social security scheme, but other categories are also considered. Parental leave, industrial, arduous work, or unemployment, for example, may count toward your French pension period (or insurance period).

Tax On Pensions

While pensions are taxed on a graduated scale, there is an annual 10% tax-free allowance for expenses. This was set to be capped at €3,912 per household in 2021. To benefit spouses where one spouse earns more than the other, the tax is based on households rather than individuals.

As previously stated, France has agreements with many of its European neighbors as well as other countries around the world. Because of these agreements, many people who retire to France will not have to pay taxes twice.

Supplementary Pensions In France

In France, there are two types of supplementary pensions. First and foremost, there are voluntary private pensions. Then there are occupational pensions that are voluntary. The latter is also known as a “retirement savings plan” (plan d’épargne retraite). The French government actively promotes both. Workers can opt for a five-year or ten-year policy, with monthly contributions as low as €50. There are limits on tax-free contributions made by both employees and employers, as with other pensions. Private voluntary pension contributions have a tax-deductible aspect of up to 10% of earnings in the previous year.

Employer-paid private pension plans (company pensions) are also available but are typically reserved for executives. You can also set up your own private pension plan through a bank, a pension fund, or an insurance broker.

Other Pensions In France

Survivor Pensions

A surviving spouse, or even an ex-spouse, can be rewarded more than half (54%) of a deceased spouse’s pension benefits under certain conditions. To be eligible, a surviving spouse must be a minimum of 55 years old and have an annual income of no more than €21,985.60. (for a single person living alone).

Although the basic state pension scheme makes no provision for orphaned children, supplementary pension plans allow children to claim between 30% and 50% of the deceased’s pension. Of course, terms and conditions differ from one plan to the next.

In some cases, those under the age of 55 with a low income may be eligible for a widowhood allowance. The French pension authority determines whether this is the case.

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Applying For The French Pension

Once you get to the statutory retirement age, you must contact the National Old-Age Insurance Fund (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse – CNAV). If you live in another country, the French pension authority offers instructions on how to claim an international French pension.

Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens To My Pension If I Leave France?

You can have your pension paid into your French bank account or have it transferred directly to your foreign bank account. Check with the bank to see if there are any fees involved.

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When Can I Claim My French Pension?

For those born on or after January 1, 1955, the statutory retirement age in France is 62. However, in order to be eligible for a full, maximum-rate pension at the age of 62, you must have contributed for the required number of quarters.

How Do I Claim My French Pension?

Once you get to the statutory retirement age, you must contact the National Old-Age Insurance Fund (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse – CNAV). If you live in another country, the French pension authority offers instructions on how to claim an international French pension.

Can You Get Your Pension Back If You Move Abroad?

You can still claim the state pension if you have paid national insurance contributions to be eligible.

How Much French Pension Will I Get?

In France, the payment rate is set at a minimum of 37.5% of your average French salary and a maximum of 50%. To make up the full amount for your age bracket, a reduction is made for each trimester you miss.