Housing allowance - CAF

The Family Allowances Office (‘Caisse d’Allocations Familiales’ - CAF) can provide you with financial support to help you pay your rent, provided that you meet certain conditions.

Conditions to be met

To be eligible for housing allowance, you must live in France for more than 3 months, have signed a rental agreement, and have a bank account in France (or in the SEPA).

The awarding and amount of the housing allowance are also based on a number of other criteria, such as financial resources, family circumstances, amount of the rent, and type of accommodation.

Before applying, to get an idea of how much you could be entitled to, you can do a simulation on the CAF website.
Good to know
Some types of residence permits do not allow to benefit from the CAF housing allowance.
Thus, you will not be eligible if, for example, you came to France with:
- a visa marked ‘dispense temporaire de carte de séjour’ (temporarily exempted from applying for a residence permit),
- a short stay visa ("visa de court séjour"),
- a temporary long term visa ("visa long séjour temporaire"),
- a "long-term resident - EU" residence permit ("carte de séjour "résident de longue durée – UE") issued by a country other than France,
- a residence permit issued by a country other than France accompanied by the "Notification de la mobilité en France d’un étudiant [ou chercheur] étranger autorisé à séjourner dans un autre État membre de l’Union Européenne".

Applying for housing allowance for the first time

If you are not known to the CAF (you are then a 'non-allocataire'), your first application for housing allowance is made online, on the CAF website, in the following steps:

Step 1 – Create your CAF account

You have to go through the section 'Faire une demande de prestation' to create your CAF account.
On the CAF website, go to the section 'Aide et démarches', 'Mes démarches', then 'Faites une demande de prestation en ligne', 'Logement'.
Then, click on 'Faire la demande' under the section 'Aide au logement', and finally click on 'Créer un compte'.

> Find out more about the creation of a CAF account (in French)
You do not have a French social security number ?
You can create a CAF account even if you do not have a French social security number.
You will then be given a temporary identifier ('identifiant provisoire'), which you will use to access your CAF online account (until CAF sends you a social security number by post).

Step 2 – Applying for housing allowance

Once you have created your account, you can apply for housing allowance online via the 'Faire une demande de prestations' section.
You will then need to log back into your account.
In order to be able to enter all the requested information, you must have with you at the time of the request:
  • If you live in a CROUS residence, the 'attestation CAF', which you can obtain from your residence reception desk or download from your account on MesServices.etudiant.gouv.fr, section 'Cité U',
  • If you live in another type of accommodation, your rental contract or lease, as well as the contact information of your landlord (owner, agency...), the Siret number if the landlord is a company, and the amount of the rent,
  • The amount of your income over the last 12 months (whether the income was received in France or abroad),
  • Your bank details (your RIB, or the IBAN and BIC numbers of your account in the SEPA).
If you do not have all the necessary information with you, it is possible to suspend the online application, and resume it later, within a maximum of 1 month.
CAF guides to online applications for students
The CAF has published guides in English and Spanish to help you submit your online application.
> See the guides on the CAF website (section 'Besoin d'aide', at the bottom of the page)

At the end of the online procedure, once your application has been validated, a list of the documents you need to send to CAF will appear on the screen, and a summary document of your housing allowance application will be available to download in PDF format.
We recommend that you make a note of the list of documents (by taking a screen shot, for example), and that you download the summary document (it is a proof that you have completed your application and allows you to check the information you have entered).

Step 3 – Send the requested documents to CAF

You can send the requested documents to CAF: Depending on your situation, you may be asked for different documents.
But you will have to provide at least the documents listed below.
Please note that the copies of your documents must be of good quality.

  • Copy of your ID (passport, or ID card)
  • Copy of your birth certificate in the original language (along with the French translation if you have it)
Europeans (EU / EEA) or Swiss nationals:
  • Copy of your European Health Insurance Card
  • Copy of your certificate of enrolment (‘certificat de scolarité’) at a higher education institution (if applicable)
Third-country nationals (outside EU / EEA or Switzerland):
  • Copy of your visa and the certificate confirming validation of the registration of your long-stay visa serving as a residence permit (‘Confirmation de la validation de l’enregistrement de votre visa long séjour valant titre de séjour’), or of your residence permit card.
Employed / salaried doctoral students:
  • Copy of your work contract
You are a student arriving from Ukraine and benefiting from temporary protection?
The CAF has set up a specific procedure for your housing allowance application.
To find out more, contact the ISSO service, or come and see us directly at our Welcome center: we will be able to help you complete and submit your application.

The processing of your application for housing allowance

After receiving your application for housing allowance, CAF will send you letters by post: so remember to put your name clearly on your letterbox.
The first letters you receive will contain your file number (which is also your CAF 'allocataire' number), as well as a password for access to personalized telephone services.

If you access your CAF online account using an 'identifiant provisoire' (P + 8 digits), CAF will also send you a social security number at a later date, which you will then have to use to access your account. The first time you use your social security number to log in to your account, if your password is not recognized, you will be redirected to the creation of a new account, using your social security number.

Processing times can be several weeks, or even several months at the start of the new academic year. To find out how long it takes to process housing allowance applications, visit the CAF website for your place of residence:

Payment of the housing allowance

The first payment depends on the processing times of the CAF in your place of residence, and is made at the earliest two months after the application.
Please note that if you are applying for a housing allowance for the first time, no allowance will be paid for the first month. You are not entitled to housing benefit until the month following the month in which you move in.

You move into your accommodation on January 8th, and do the online application in January.
-> Housing allowance entitlement starts in February, paid in the beginning of March at the earliest.

If your circumstances change or you move house

You must inform the CAF of any change in your circumstances: change of address in France, moving back to your home country, salary, change in personal circumstances (marital status, children, etc.).
The easiest way to do this is via your CAF online account.

If you move to a new address in France, you must change the address on your CAF online account and submit a new application for housing allowance for this new address, if you still wish to receive it.

If you change your address and move abroad, you must notify CAF via your online account. Do this well in advance, so that the CAF can inform you about any other procedures to be completed before you leave.

If you are a third-country national (outside EU / EEA or Switzerland), and receive a new residence document (new residence permit, 'attestation de décision favorable', 'récépissé'...), remember to send a copy of it to CAF to ensure a better continuity of your housing allowance rights.
Published on  January 7, 2021
Updated on July 5, 2024