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International mobility : What you need to know

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International mobility : What you need to know

International mobility presents numerous opportunities but demands thorough preparation. Whether relocating for work, study, or to reside abroad, it’s vital to grasp the necessary formalities, insurance coverage, and social protections. Understanding these aspects is crucial for a smooth transition and ensuring your well-being in a new environment.

The formalities of international mobility

The initial step in any move abroad is to acquaint yourself with the administrative procedures of your host country. These requirements differ based on your nationality and where you’re headed. Understanding these nuances is essential for a successful transition.

Understanding administrative formalities

The first step in any expatriation is understanding the administrative procedures of your host country, which can vary based on nationality and destination. For instance, a French national within the European Union typically doesn’t require a visa, whereas non-European nationals often need multiple authorizations such as visas, residence permits, and work permits.

In sub-Saharan Africa, intra-regional mobility rates are low, yet there’s a notable proportion of students who study abroad. Approximately 4.8 % of sub-Saharan students pursue international education, exceeding the global average of 2.7 %. Nigeria leads with 17 % of mobile students from the region, followed by Cameroon (6 %) and Zimbabwe (4.5 %).

South Africa stands out as the leading African nation and the third globally in hosting sub-Saharan African students, accommodating 30,300 students in 2020, which accounts for 7 % of the total.

Roles of embassies and consulates

Embassies and consulates play a crucial role for expatriates, offering essential information on local legal requirements and providing assistance when needed. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) maintains a directory of embassies and consulates for easy access, ensuring expatriates can find necessary support and guidance during their stay abroad.

Essential insurance for international mobility

Insurance is a critical consideration for international mobility. While comprehensive home insurance typically covers personal liability, this protection may not extend to activities abroad. Therefore, it’s often essential to secure local insurance to guarantee adequate coverage. Expatriates can also opt for specialized policies, such as those provided by the Fund for French Citizens Abroad (CFE), which cater specifically to work-related accidents and illnesses. These measures help ensure comprehensive protection while living or working overseas.

Social protection and its components

Social protection along international mobility extends beyond health insurance to encompass sickness benefits, maternity leave, provident insurance (including disability, sick leave, and death benefits), unemployment benefits, and retirement provisions. Obtaining insurance through specialized organizations enables individuals to reconstruct their social safety net while adhering to the legal requirements of their host country.

Additionally, there are notable disparities in social security coverage for French nationals based on their residency within or outside the European Union. Approximately 81% of French nationals residing in EU countries benefit from the social protection systems of their host nations, whereas only 59% of those living outside the EU enjoy similar benefits. These differences highlight the importance of understanding and securing appropriate social protections while abroad.


To safeguard the continuity of your pension entitlements, the Fund for French Citizens Abroad (CFE) enables you to contribute to the basic pension scheme, ensuring validation of your pension credits with the CNAV (French National Pension Fund). This option proves highly beneficial in host countries without a social security agreement with France. Delaying the purchase of pension credits could result in higher costs later on, and there are restrictions on the number of credits that can be bought back.

Work-related accidents and illnesses

Expatriates often rely on CFE for coverage of work-related accidents and illnesses, a benefit that is rarely provided by private international insurers.


Expatriate employees, especially those employed by local companies, have the option to individually join the unemployment insurance scheme through the Grouping of ASSEDIC of the Paris Region (GARP).

Supplementary pension and provident scheme

The Retirement Fund for Expatriates (CRE) and IRC-AFE provide supplementary pension solutions for expatriates. In terms of provident insurance, expatriates have the option to choose between public schemes and private insurance to cover risks such as death and disability.

Safety and well-being for expatriates

Safety and well-being are critical considerations in international mobility, encompassing assistance and repatriation, personal liability, and addressing specific risks like kidnapping.

Assistance and repatriation

Assistance and repatriation insurance is strongly recommended, providing crucial protection in case of serious health issues or emergencies.

Personal liability

While not mandatory in some countries, personal liability insurance is essential to safeguard yourself in case of any claims that may arise.


International mobility demands meticulous preparation and a comprehensive grasp of social protection and insurance components. Accessing accurate information and acquiring appropriate insurance coverage ensures a secure and worry-free expatriation experience. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and regularly consult resources provided by specialized institutions to tailor coverage according to local regulations and individual needs.

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