Figuring out the CAF in France

At TEMPO, we understand the woes of the many expats who move to a foreign country for bigger and brighter prospects. With the majority of our workforce being expats in France, our coffee break discussions usually focus on everyday administrative issues we face and how we can help each other by virtue of experience. In this post, we want to extend our knowledge to our valued customers.

So what is the CAF and how does it work? Under the very extensive French Social Security system, there is the Caisse nationale des allocations familiales (National Office for Family Allocations, or CNAF) and the 123 Caisse d’allocations familiales (Family Allocations Office, or CAF). Born around the 1945–1946, the CAF system serves about 11 million beneficiaries. The CAF body offers different services and benefits starting from early childhood, crèche, halte garderies (nursery), education, holidays, family allowances, pregnancy benefits & housing benefits.

Image Source: Google

The best way to obtain detailed information about the CAF is through their website However, the website is entirely in French and some information is displayed in a bizarre manner when one uses Google Translate. The best way is to catch hold of a French friend and request him or her for a translation while you are browsing. CAF offices are easily found in all towns and cities. Here again, it is best to visit with your French friend for ease of operation and understanding the forms.

Image source: CAF.FR

Once you have filled out your forms and submitted necessary documents, the CAF office will send you a 7 digit number called the Numéro d’Allocataire. This number also serves as your login ID when using your account on the CAF website. In most cases, the Code Confidentiel, or password, is generated once your file is validated. Until this is made available to you, you can call the CAF centres as a ‘non-allocataire’. Unfortunately, the CAF call-centre based appointment systems have made it difficult for people who speak little French to book appointments with an advisor at the CAF. Walk-in type of appointments are not entertained, hence, it is best to have a French friend reserve an appointment for you in advance through the call-centre at the CAF office.

Coming to the services you can avail from the CAF, these are tabulated below with the French equivalent name and estimated amount:

To know more about your eligibility, you can do a simulation of your estimated benefits or allowances here by entering your past earnings, current income, and information about your roommates into the CAF calculator.

As an example, students who want to request for CAF allowance must 1) Live in an apartment that’s eligible for CAF 2) Make very little money in the previous years 3) Make very little money currently 4) Be a student. 5) Live with other low-income students 6) Have a valid carte de séjour or EU passport 7) Have a French bank account.

The documents required of you vary depending on the type of situation you are in and the type of allowance you are applying for. However, as an umbrella list, do keep the following documents ready for submission to the CAF office if you choose to apply for an allowance.

• Passport or Carte de séjour
 • Proof of Address which is not older than 3–4 months (EDF bill or housing agreement)
 • Birth certificates with affiliation for every member of the family
 • Social Security attestation
 • Tax documents (Avis d’impostion)
 • Appropriate CERFA (centre d’enregistrement et de révision des formulaires administratifs) document
 • Bank RIB details

With the aforesaid, we hope you are able to evaluate and apply for the best CAF option available for you. We understand that in doing so you save that hard earned euro so that you can #sendwithTEMPO for your loved ones back home, for a better life.

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