In the past ten years we have helped over one hundred medical doctors and physiotherapists to start a new life in France and almost all of them still work and live here! Some of them will gladly invite to observe for a day or a few days in their practice, in order to give you a sense of what it means to work in ‘La Douce France’.

Newcomers often think that it will be difficult to learn to speak French to an acceptable level. It is our experience, however, that this is hardly ever a problem.

We work alongside Emmanuelle Arnaud, a professional teacher who offers an intensive training course of one or two weeks, adapted to your level and medical specialism.This is a one on one training.

After this training, most dentists are ready to start their practice.

In France, dentists work alone or in groups in the so-called ‘Maisons Médicales’. These structures are often commissioned by the local authorities in order to group together local medical doctors, physiotherapists, homecarers and other disciplines who therefore will pay a minimal rent. In some areas the shortage is such that a tax exemption is granted to newcomers by the government for a period of five years. This is not the case in all regions, however.

The initial investment you will have to make is always a matter of some debate, but an increasing number of local authorities will pay for acquisition of the dentist’s chair and other equipment. They understand that newly arrived, emigrating professionals, may not be eager to invest hundreds of thousands of euros straight away.

Of course you are free to open your own practice at the location of your choice and handle everything yourself. It is up to you.

In France, dentists are ‘libéral’, which means that you decide for yourself what you will do and how much you will work. If you are part of a group, it’s members will make arrangements on these subjects, but broadly speaking, you are in control of the number of hours you wish to work and of planning your consultations and annual leave. You are not required to provide a replacement in the case of taking annual leave or a day off.

Paid employment is offered by an increasing number of hospitals and other institutions, such as, for example, the ‘Mutualité Française’, who more and more invest into practices and hire dentists. They, in return, are exempt from all organisational responsibilities. In this case you will work 35 hours a week and you will have no paperwork to take care of. Paid holidays and insurances are part of the deal. Some dentists will start out as a paid employee and become ‘libéral’ at a later stage. Others prefer to stay employed in order to have more free time to enjoy the ‘French way of life’.

The ‘Ordre de Dentistes’ is in charge of the registration procedure for new dentists, and this will take approximately 4 months to be completed. In addition, an assessment will be made of your langage skills in order to determine if you speak French well enough to be able to communicate with your patients. After this, you will receive a registration number (numéro ADELI ou RPPS). This number allows you to register with the Caisse Maladie (professional health insurance fund) as a healthcare professional. This will also cover personal basic health insurance for you and your family.

Next, you will register with the URSAFF, the fiscal organisation that will calculate your social security contributions. Finally, you will have to take out a professional liability insurance.