French social security numbers

French social security numbers

If you need information about French social security numbers, you’re in the right place. Discover what social security or INSEE numbers are for, what they look like and how to get one if you’ve just arrived in France.

Social security in France

Social security is a range of public services provided by the government. In France, social security is split into four branches:

  • Health insurance.
  • Retirement pensions.
  • Occupational risks.
  • Family.

Typical public services include access to GPs, housing, maternity leave and unemployment benefits. All employed people make contributions to social security based on their income. 

What are social security numbers in France?

Every person born in France is issued a social security number so that they can access these services. The number is generated by INSEE, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 

Most French nationals won’t make any contributions until they start working at the age of 16. Until then, every child has access to benefits through their parent’s social security allowance. 

French national security numbers

Social security numbers in France are sometimes called French national insurance numbers. 

And like UK National Insurance numbers, social security numbers help calculate how much you owe. They also act as your reference number for the whole social security system. 

You can also use your social security number to validate your identity when applying for certain services. From opening bank accounts to renting apartments, it’s a good idea to always have your social security number to hand. 

French social security numbers are also called:

  • INSEE codes.
  • National identification numbers.
  • NIR (Numéro d’Inscription au Répertoire) numbers.

Getting a social security number in France

When you start working, your employer will register you for social security with the URSSAF. This is the organisation that collects social security contributions in France.

You don’t need a job to get a social security number. To apply for one, you’ll have to complete an S1160 form and have copies of:

  • Your passport.
  • A visa or permit showing your status in France.
  • Your birth certificate.
  • Your employment contract or last payslip*
  • Proof you’ve lived in France for more than three months.
  • Your relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB), which you can get from your French bank.

*Only if you are or have ever been employed. 

 You can either post or hand-deliver your documents to:

After the relevant “Fund” has processed your request, you’ll get a temporary NIR number. Your temporary number gives you full access to social security, but your contributions will be higher. 

Once you have your permanent number, you’ll get your health insurance card and refunds for your previous contributions.

Where to find your NIR number

You can find your social security or NIR number on your carte d’assurance maladie (health insurance card). It’s known as a “Carte Vitale” and has your name, photo, social security number, and unique microchip.

If you’ve worked in France before, your number is on your employment history statement (relevé de carrière). You can get your statement from the last URSSAF office you paid contributions to in France.

French social security numbers format

Social security numbers are between 12 to 16 digits long and are unique to every individual. The format for INSEE codes is:


S represents your gender. 1 for a male, 2 for a female. 

YY is the last two digits of your year of birth.

MM is your month of birth.

LL is the French department of origin. There are 101 administrative departments in France. 96 are in metropolitan France, and five are in overseas territories like Guadaloupe. 

OOO means the “commune of origin”. Each French department (LL) consists of various communes. Each commune is represented by two or three digits.

KKK is the order number used to distinguish people born at the same time, department and commune.

CC is an optional two-digit control key that can be any number between 01 and 97.

Below is the social security of “Marie Dumont”, born in May of 1970 in the Paris department of France. She is from the Belleville commune within the French capital.