An international career and French pension rights

Novelvy Retraite
Wednesday, 7 February, 2018

According to a recent survey conducted by Humanis and Le Petit Journal (“Baromètre expatriés 2018”), one in 2 expats does not contribute to any pension scheme beyond what is compulsory under local laws.

For French expats, you should be aware of the impact of an international career on your French pension rights, which will depend on the countries where you have worked.


  • Countries covered under the European agreements


Your international career has involved only countries signatories of the European agreements: European Union, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

A voluntary membership in the French system is not essential, as the years during which you have contributed to the pension scheme in these countries will be taken into account in your career by the French pension authorities. However any voluntary contribution will allow you to continue to improve your rights in the basic plan and will not be lost.


  • Countries which have signed a bilateral convention with France


You have worked in other countries outside Europe. Over forty countries have signed bilateral social security agreements with France, including the US but only Japan, South Korea and the Philippines in Asia.

These agreements also provide for the periods of work in the countries concerned to be taken into account when calculating the French pension in term of the total number of quarters required to avail of your pension rights.


When the time comes to claim your pension rights, the French pension authorities will only apply the benefits under ONE social security convention. In fact, only the longest period will be taken into account.

In this case, voluntary membership in CFE Vieillesse can be an effective way to ensure the validation of all your years worked abroad.

There are some exceptions to this rule, so check first.


  • Countries without a social security convention with France


You may not have a clear view of your future career (host country, length of stay, probability of a return to France).

In this case, contributing to CFE Vieillesse allows you to stay in the basic pension scheme and preserve your options, but be aware that the grace period for re-joining is a maximum of 10 years from the start of your expatriation.

The cost involved is € 1764/quarter for 2018, if your salary is equal to or higher than the Plafond Annuel de la Securité Sociale of € 39,732, and will validate 4 quarters towards your pension rights.

Your spouse if you have a dependent child can also contribute voluntarily as a “chargée de famille” with the reference wages set at half of the social security ceiling or € 19,866 in 2018 and the cost is € 888/quarter.


The above deals only with contributions to the basic regime. Of course, you can also voluntarily contribute to the “régimes complémentaires” CRE/IRCAFEX .




About Novelvy Retraite

Novelvy is a firm of experts on French pension rights offering to all expats and “détachés” two types of services:

– A ‘bilan retraite’ is an exhaustive review of your accumulated pension rights and an evaluation of the opportunity to contribute or not on a voluntary basis according to various scenarii going forward (whether to stay or re–enter in the system, what is the optimum moment to claim pension rights, etc). We estimate your pension rights under these various options, so that you have all the facts to decide your retirement strategy and can identify ways to optimise your rights under the French system;

– A ‘liquidation de retraite’ is a service whereby Novelvy will undertake on your behalf all the steps required to obtain payment of your pension rights. This service will give the comfort and assurance of delegating to expert professionals based in France the complex and time–consuming tasks of ensuring that all pension rights under the various regimes to which you have contributed over your career have been duly taken into account and claims are made in due time. We will also verify that the first actual payments of your pension are in conformity with your claims.