Rights of undocumented people

Last update : December 2023

In France, even if people without legal status in the country still have rights. In this section you will find the essential points and your rights as an “undocumented person”, which means that you have no right of residence on French soil.

For specific information on your rights in the event of a police check or arrest, go to : Controle / Police / Rétention

The essential points

Undocumented people have rights.

In general:

  • In France, access to school is a right for children under the age of 16, regardless of their parents’ status or type of accommodation. School is free and your children cannot be refused access. You should contact the mairie (town hall) of your place of accommodation and contact a legal advice centre if you have any problems.”

  • Whatever your situation (undocumented, asylum seeker, refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection), you have the right to resume your studies in France. It is important to know that the university is not supposed to check whether you have a residence permit. The conditions for applying to study in France are: you must have passed the baccalauréat and have a sufficient level of French (B2 for the undergraduate (“licence”) degree and C1 for the master’s degree). The application procedures (and the chances of success) depend on the university, the type of course, your status and the level at which you wish to enrol (L1, L2, master’s, etc.).

  • Undocumented people have the right to organise themselves and to form or take part in associations.

  • Undocumented people are entitled to health care. State medical aid is available to people in an irregular situation. You must apply for this and prove that you have been living in France for 3 months.

  • Undocumented people can go to the emergency department of public hospitals.

    With regard to day-to-day life, all people have:

  • The right to administrative domiciliation. People without documents can go to the local social action centres (CCAS)(“Centres Communaux d’Action Sociale”).

  • The right to a bank account. In practice, banks will refuse your application. If this is the case, ask for the refusal certificate and send it to the Banque de France, which will refer you to the bank which will have to open a bank account.

  • The right to declare tax and income.

  • Access to culture and facilities

  • The right to emergency accommodation: 115 

If you would like to meet collectives of undocumented people:

  • Collectives of undocumented people: see the map of collectives in France on the Gisti website, www.gisti.org/sans-papiers

  • Associations and trade unions: www.gisti.org/spip.php?article6

For more information: