TAPIF Tip/Lectrice Lesson: How to apply for CAF

CAF, or La caisse d’allocations familiales is a subsidized housing benefit available to all legal residents of France. If you have a valid working visa, live in a legit housing situation with a lease and a landlord, and you have made zero to little money in the past two years, you should be eligible to receive CAF once you receive your carte de séjour at your OFII appointment.

However, you should start your application right away, even before your OFII appointment, because you will still be reimbursed later. For example, if you moved into your apartment in October, start your application in October, even if your OFII appointment isn’t until December, because you will still be reimbursed. If you move into your apartment in October but do not start your application until December, you will not be reimbursed for the months of October and November.

You can fill out a CAF application here. Now, almost everything is online. Overall, the application is pretty straight forward. When submitting your CAF paperwork, you will also be asked for several additional documents, including:

  • Passport Identity Pages
  • Copies of your visa WITH your OFII stamp (or carte de séjour)- you will probably have your OFII appointment after you’ve started the application process for CAF, so you can turn that in later
  • a RIB
  • Your first pay stub (Keep in mind that this first pay stub will have both October/November included on one pay stub, so it may look like you are making more money than you actually are. Consider having your secretary, head of school, or someone else write and sign a paper explaining your actual monthly income. Or, turn in your December pay stub along with your Oct./Nov. one.
  • Your net earnings for the past two years (ie: Bring your tax returns from the US, or simply declare “Absence de Ressources.”)

You can usually just scan and upload these forms to the website. Otherwise, you can make copies and drop them off at the CAF office.

There are two important documents you must include with your CAF application:

  1. Déclaration de ressources:

CAF is based off the income you had two years ago. Technically, you are supposed to claim all foreign funds. But because I was a student and wasn’t making enough money to be taxed in the US, I simply ticked the box for absence de ressources en 20–. (and wrote “étudiant” next to it). Otherwise, you will need to include your earnings from abroad.

Keep in mind that once the new year rolls around in January, you will be required to fill out and submit this form again, but for the new year.

2. Attestation de Loyer 

This is a document to be filled out by your landlord, and then you upload it on the site.

Once everything is turned in, the waiting game begins. Eventually, CAF will provide a numéro d’allocation along with a password for your account (do not lose these!)

Eventually, you will be paid all of your CAF money in a lump sum, and then receive monthly payments on the 5th of each month.

In my first apartment, I did not qualify for CAF since it was under the table rent, however, I did qualify once I moved into my second apartment. I turned in my paperwork at the end of January 2014 and received my first payment in March 2014, directly into my bank account. When I left Toulon to go back to the US for the summer, I physically went into CAF to let them know and to stop payments. Then, upon arriving in the north of France three months later, I logged into my account, plugged in my new address, and my dossier was automatically sent to Valenciennes (and then in June 2015, to Lille). Eventually, I was sent forms to fill out and update my file, and always received payments shortly thereafter.

To close your CAF permanently, you must send a letter notifying them of your moving date, the month to stop payments, and your new address. Remember, March CAF is paid in April, so don’t lose any money you may be entitled to!)

CAF is random and frustrating, and no two experience are the same. I received payments within two months but others waited close to seven. My biggest piece of advice is not to rely on CAF, or assume you are going to get CAF. Do not rent an apartment you cannot afford to pay for without CAF, because it can take a LONG time to get reimbursed. Not to mention the French economy is awful, and CAF payments have been reduced all around.

You can find your local CAF office by typing in your zip code on the CAF website.

Do you have any CAF horror or success stories? Share them below.



18 thoughts on “TAPIF Tip/Lectrice Lesson: How to apply for CAF

  1. Hi Dana,
    I’ve started my online application for CAF. They are asking me to upload supporting documents, but I haven’t yet received a recipient number and password. Did you get yours by mail or email?
    It’s also odd that they have only asked for my ID and proof of sejour…


    1. hi! I think a lot of this has changed since my initial CAF application… they are moving to mostly online applications… you need your password and allocation number first, and I believe I got them both by mail… your proof of sejour is your visa with your ofii stamp… 🙂 and your passport. Hope that helps!

  2. Hello! I have a question about this whole ‘if you have received little income’ thing. I have been working since I finished uni in December, and a fair bit while I was still studying too. I don’t want to count on having CAF if they will say my income is too high. Do you know what the income cut off is for receiving assistance? (Keeping in mind I am in Australia and I imagine they will have no way of verifying my income, but I am a rule follower.)

    1. Hi! I really don’t have any idea; it highly depends on the individual. But, CAF takes into account the money you made 2 years prior (so this year they are looking at 2013 income, and come January next year they will ask for 2014 income.) So that should help in “Reducing your income.” I’m a huge rule follower myself, but I just ticked “student no income” box for my first CAF form– being American they won’t come searching for your IRS forms…and honestly if you only made a couple of grand, it won’t make too much of a difference and really, to keep your sanity it won’t be worth the hassle…
      But as I’ve been here several years now, I only count my income from France as they can easily have assess to that.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Hi Dana! I wonder if you could help me with a CAF issue. I stupidly decided that I could figure out via Internet how to end the CAF, without going to the office in person. After an hour of research, I still can’t figure it out, and I’ve already left my French city of residence. Did you have to bring any documents with you when you went to the CAF office to end your aid? Do you know anyone who managed to end their CAF via phone or Internet? Is it possible to go to a CAF office in another city to end the aid?

    I’d be grateful for any advice. When I get this sorted, I’ll blog about it for future assistants. 🙂

    1. Hey Manon! I had the same problem last year. I as lucky that I caught someone on a good day at the CAF because they basically just stopped my payments for me when I went in in person. It’s dumb because for your address change you can only change it to another French address online.

      Basically what you will need to do is send them une lettre recommandée avec avis de réception, telling them that you have left your address of residency and pay rent until X date, so please stop the payments after X month of rent. Then once you have all your money you can have your French bank block CAF payments from your account.

      Good luck!

    1. I’m sorry I only saw this now! It really depends and it’s impossible to say! I got 245€ per month as an assistant and 182€ as a lectrice.

  4. I applied back when I was a student and I got two letters back from two people telling me I was missing documents and that I needed to send in the missing documents. Guess what? Each side was asking me for documents that the other side had. Somebody in the office had split up my documents and 2 people were working on the same dossier without even knowing it.

    They kept sending me letters asking me for the other person’s documents and I just figured they would figure it out eventually. Nope. One day I received a letter demanding that I send back the “missing documents” or else they would close my dossier. So I had to take a day off from my studies to go over there (they were located on the other side of the city in the middle of a field – super easy to get to), argue with them a bit to make them understand their error and get them to agree to fix it.

    Luckily they finally understood the problem and one of the two people ended up taking over my file. It took a few months, but I they did pay up in the end.

  5. Barely anyone in my academie received CAF. Tons applied and most people never got work back that their documents even made it. Luckily I have free housing, but it seems that this program really needs to be revised. A french friend of mine has applied and received it every year for three years and this year they told her she was missing a document and won’t receive it. She hasn’t moved so none of the paperwork has changed. So lame. PS. my wordpress app followed and unfollowed you a million times today sorry if you got a bunch of updates!! My app was actin’ a fool.

    1. Yeah, CAF is a blessing and a curse all at the same time. I’d take free housing ANY DAY! What academy are you in?? That’s awesome !

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