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 Newcomer guide

You will find on this webpage the most important practical pieces of information to help you prepare for your stay at LAM, located in Marseille that is the second biggest French city.

What do I need to do before my arrival?

If you are a EU citizen, you need to get in touch with the human resources trough your employer (i.e. your advisor if you are a student or your boss if you are a postdoc) to check that there is no problem to prepare your work contract.

If you are not a EU citizen, a scientific visa (visa scientifique) is required. In order to get it, you need a document called convention d’accueil d’un chercheur ou enseignant chercheur étranger. The process to get it is the following:

  1. the HR at LAM prepare it and send it to you by email;
  2. you check all the information, sign it and email it back to the HR at LAM;
  3. The HR at LAM send it to the administrative center (préfecture des Bouches du Rhône) for validation;
  4. Once validated, the HR at LAM send the original form to you by mail;
  5. You request an appointment at the French consulate or embassy;
  6. When you get the visa, send a copy of it to the HR at LAM.

The process to go through this administrative procedure takes about four months when a visa is required. Note that French administrations are closed in August.

About ten days before your expected first day at LAM, you will have to check with your advisor/boss that an appointment with the LAM HR contact was made.

What do I need to do at the moment of my arrival?


The day of your arrival at LAM, you will meet your advisor/boss together with your contact at the LAM HR (Frédérique Lépine for CNRS and Françoise Maxant for AMU). During this meeting, you will sign your work contract and you will be given all the important information about working at LAM.

On your first day, you will also receive your fiche suiveuse. This document will be signed by the key people at LAM within a month after your arrival:

  • the receptionist,
  • your HR contact,
  • the director,
  • the technical director,
  • your team lead,
  • your representative,
  • the person in charge of safety at LAM
  • the LAM administration manager.

Bank account

Within your first week in France, you have to open a bank account in order to get your salary without any delay.

Here is the list of standard documents you will need to proceed:

  • your passport;
  • a copy of your lease (check with your boss/advisor);
  • a copy of your work contract or a certificate with your income explicitely written on it that you can request to your LAM HR contact;
  • at least 20€ in cash to make your first deposit.

What do I need to know to live in France?

Public transportation

There are two lines of subway in Marseille and many bus lines, all managed by the RTM (Régie des transports marseillais). Weekly, monthly or yearly subscriptions are available online. For most cases, half of your subscription can be covered by your employer.
The online form to get reimbursed is available on DIRCOM:

Once you filled in the form, give to Frédérique Lépine-Hébert if you have a CNRS contract or to Françoise Maxant if you have a AMU contract.

Healthcare system

The social security (sécurité sociale)

It allows anyone to benefit from the French healthcare. Your contribution to it is directly taken out of your gross salary. This is a mandatory contribution for anyone with a French work contract.

Health insurance (mutuelle):

The social security does not fully reimburse all your health expense (in general, about 70% are reimbursed). In order to complement it, you can subscribe to a health insurance. It is not mandatory but it is strongly recommended to do so (especially if you have dental issues, wear glasses etc.).

If you have a public sector work contract (i.e. CNRS or AMU), you can have both social security and health insurance managed by a single company: MGEN.

If you have a private sector work contract (i.e. CNES or Protisvalor), you have to subscribe to CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) for the social security and subscribe separately for private health insurance.


Once a year, an informal meeting is organized at LAM to help you fill in your déclaration de revenus (tax return).

Useful links

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© LAM - Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille

Pôle de l’Étoile Site de Château-Gombert
38, rue Frédéric Joliot-Curie 13388 Marseille cedex 13 FRANCE

Phone : +33 4 91 05 59 00
Fax : +33 4 91 62 11 90