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Americans in France: What you need to know about your pension

The food. The weather. The wine. The lifestyle. France has plenty to offer retirees - but ensuring you make the most of your hard-earned pension will make your new life in l’hexagone even better.

A couple sitting on chairs beneath a tree, silhouetted by the setting sun

Lots of Americans retire to France, and there are generous bilateral agreements in place that make matters relatively straightforward.

First things first; US citizens can bring any type of US-based pension to France – although you’ll have to inform the US tax authorities that you’ll be paying French income tax on it.

You can move either before or after your pension starts to pay out and it doesn’t affect your payments.

US citizens coming to retire in France still have to file a US tax return every year, as well as a French one. Dual taxation agreements mean that you won’t pay tax twice on the same income, but you do have to complete two sets of tax declarations.

You can only forego US income tax responsibilities if you renounce your US citizenship – a process that is lengthy and expensive.

Tom Goold, founder of international financial advisers Valiant Wealth, said: “Generally, France is an attractive retirement destination for US expats with one of the best double taxation agreements and favourable views on US retirement accounts such as IRA 401(k)s and the like.

“If you pay state income tax in the US then this is eliminated in France. One negative could the higher estate taxes in France but there are certain structures that help navigate this issue.

“If this is a concern then you should work with an appropriately qualified advisor who has US experience and regulation.”

For further information, log on to the IRS website for advice and information on exclusions and deductions.

Tax matters

You should inform tax authorities in the USA that you’re moving to France. 

Pensioners are treated favourably here, with a 10 percent reduction factored in on income up to €36,600. You also pay tax as a household so you probably end up paying less tax than you might elsewhere.

If you own property in France expect to pay property taxes in addition to taxes on your income.

Once you have been living in France for three months you are entitled to register within the health system and if you become ill, incapacitated or need extra care as you get older, France has a generous social security system

Americans in France: What’s the deal with health insurance?

Currency matters

Be aware that currency fluctuations will mean that the amount that finally makes it into your bank account will change from month to month.

Other challenges

There’s a piece of US legislation known as FATCA that means all Americans in France, not just pensioners, may struggle to open a bank account – here’s some tips on how to get round this.

READ ALSO What are the biggest challenges for Americans in France?

In all cases, it is best to obtain independent advice that’s appropriate to your personal situation, from a financial expert.

Member comments

  1. “ If you pay state income tax in the US then this is eliminated in France. ”

    This is not true. You remain domiciled in your state until you are domiciled in another state. Domicile is not the same as “living in”. Most, if not all states, will require you technically to continue to pay state income tax if you are domiciled in the state even if you are not living in the state.

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Baby names and republican rule: 6 Essential articles for life in France

From banned baby names, to writing the perfect CV, via an explanation of the Fifth Republic, here are six essential articles for life in France.

Baby names and republican rule: 6 Essential articles for life in France

Have you got a baby on the way? If so, you better think twice about naming them Nutella, Mini-Cooper or Griezmann-Mbappé – because French courts are likely to order you to choose something more appropriate. 

Up until 1993 parents in France had to choose a name for their baby from a long list of acceptable prénoms laid out by authorities. And a far-right candidate in the 2022 presidential race wants to bring this rule back.

But the law currently states that a parent can give any name to their child – as long as this name does not go “against the interests of the child”. 

You can read our guide on names to avoid below:

The French baby names banned by law

If you’re looking for work in France, you can maximise your chances of success by writing a CV in correct French, taking both language and format into account. 

After that comes the cover letter and, if you nail it, the job interview.

We spoke with a French recruitment expert about what you need to do to get that dream job. 

Ask the expert: How to write the perfect French CV

France is, of course, a republic but the current one is actually la Cinquième République – the Fifth Republic.

And the phrase Fifth Republic is often used in general language in France, especially around politics. 

Here’s what people mean when they talk about the Fifth Republic, and what happened to the previous four.

Explained: What is the French Fifth Republic?

If you’re a Brit living in France, you may miss certain creature comforts. 

Yes, the French have among the finest gastronomie in the world, but do they have Marmite, decent tea bags and pork pies? 

Brexit has thrown a spanner in the works for Brits who want to transport various foodstuffs and other items into France in their suitcase, following a visit to the UK.

Import-export businesses have been particularly hit, but how do the rules impact individual travellers? We’ve written a guide to help you get your head around this question:

Marmite, tea bags and pork pies: What can you bring into France from the UK

‘Yes’ is one of the most commonly uttered words in every language around the world and even people with an extremely rudimentary knowledge of French will know that oui is the term used here. 

But for those of you looking to expand your vocabulary, look no further than the article below: 

Beyond oui: 23 ways to agree in French

If you’re not yet in France but considering moving here – or even are just daydreaming about it – there are a number of things you should do to prepare: from checking your residency rights, to choosing a place to live, to sorting out bank accounts and health insurance.  

For those considering making the move, take a moment to read our guide to some of the steps you should take beforehand. 

Checklist: 10 things to do before moving to France