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How do medical emergencies work in France?

What are French emergency numbers and helplines ? What documents should you have when you go to the emergency service in France? Who pays for the treatment? We explain everything in this article!


🚑 The emergency services : SAMU


👉 The main ambulance services in France are provided by the SAMU - Services d'Aide Médicale Urgente - which is part of the public hospital system. If you can't get to the hospital on your own, you can call one of these numbers:

  • The SAMU can be reached by simply dialling 15.

  • You can also call the fire brigade on 18.

  • Or call the European emergency services number 112.

🏥 Hospital emergency services


👉 You can also go directly to the local hospital on your own.

⚠️ Not all hospitals offer an emergency department. You can find the list here.

Select "Emergency medicine" in the "Activities" filter.

📃 Emergency: the documents you need


👉If you are admitted to hospital, you must have with you:

  • Your health insurance card (carte vitale), or ;

  • The certificate you received confirming your right to health care;

  • Your private insurance policy, if you have one;

  • Your passport or identity card.

💰Emergency: Who pays for the care?


👉Eligible treatment costs will be covered by your local health authority called Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) - Carte Vitale.


👉If you are a visitor to France, you must present your European Health Insurance Card/GHIC or your private health insurance policy (mutuelle).


👉If you do not have health insurance and it is an emergency, you will always receive treatment, although you are responsible for the costs.


💰If you have a low income and are not legally resident in France, you can apply for state medical aid (Aide Médicale d'Etat, AME). Condition: you have lived in the country for at least 3 months.

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