To simplify student life and help you settle in to France, there are 2 teams at Excelia dedicated to international students. These teams look after more than 750 students of 72 different nationalities. The services they offer aim to facilitate both your academic and personal success as well as your personal development, throughout your studies in La Rochelle.
The International Admissions team offers personalised support, from your initial contact with the Group until your registration is finalised. Our multicultural team will not only help you with your admissions application, but provide valuable support to ensure your admissions tests go smoothly. In addition, the team will assist you with all your administrative procedures prior to your arrival in France such as:
- putting together your registration papers
- preparing you for the international admissions tests
- helping you with the visa application procedure
The aim of Student Life is to help you settle in and assist you in your daily life. Our multilingual team is available at any time to support you and answer any questions you may have, once your registration is finalised, such as:
- how to obtain a residence permit
- looking for accommodation
- how to register for social security
- how to apply for housing benefit
- how to open a bank account
Passport and Visa
We recommend that you have a health check-up at least four weeks before leaving your home country and advise you to bring proof of this medical examination with you to France. All international students are required to take out health insurance for the entire period of their studies in La Rochelle. Upon arrival, you must therefore provide proof that you have health insurance.
Students from the European Union
If you already have health insurance in your home country, you will need to contact your local health service and request a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). We advise you to do this no later than two weeks before your departure. This card gives you the right to access the French healthcare system (doctor’s appointments, medicine, hospital treatment etc.) on the same basis as French residents.
You have to subscribe to Student Health Insurance (social security)a s soon as you arrive in La Rochelle. This subscription is totally free. You will then be given a Social Security number and be issued with a "Carte Vitale", the French health card. You will need to provide this card whenever you go to the doctor’s, or if you go to the pharmacy with a prescription. This card allows you to be reimbursed for the majority of medical charges, on the same basis as French citizens.
Private medical insurance policy
Subscribing to French Social Security, you will be reimbursed up to a maximum of 70% of the costs associated with health matters (visit to the doctor's, purchasing medicine or receiving hospital treatment). You can take out a private medical insurance policy, known as a 'mutuelle' in order to be reimbursed the 30 % of the cost remaining at your own expense. Our partner, SMERRA, can be consulted at the beginning of the year in the school premises to know which offers suit you the best.
We strongly advise all non-European international students to arrange additional health insurance (known as "mutuelle" or "complémentaire" in France), even if it is only at the minimum level of coverage. This minimum level will ensure you are reimbursed at 100% for any hospital stays. Students often forget about this, but accidents do happen and are unforeseen... and a day in hospital is an expensive addition to a student budget! By purchasing the minimum insurance, which costs approximately €5 per month, you will be fully covered in case of hospitalisation.
Other compulsory insurance
In addition to health insurance, students must be aware of the following:
- Public Liability insurance – All students must take out Public Liability insurance (in France this is called Assurance Responsabilité Civile).
- House insurance – If you rent a studio or an apartment, you must subscribe to House insurance (in France this is called Assurance Habitation).
Prepare your arrival
Good to know
Most banks can arrange both Public Liability insurance and House insurance policies. We suggest that when you open a bank account, ask about a Public Liability insurance contract at the same time. There are many insurance companies in La Rochelle that can arrange Public Liability insurance for you, at a cost of around €80 per year.
Contact the International Admissions Office
Residency permits for non-European students
Students from outside the European UnionIf you are a student from outside the European Union, you will need to apply for a student visa at the French Embassy located in your home country.
- If you are planning on staying in La Rochelle for one year
Before your departure, you must contact the French Embassy or Consulate in your home country to apply for a student visa. As soon as you arrive in France, regardless of your visa expiration date, you must validate your visa within 90 days of your arrival. This is done at the OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration - French Office of Immigration and Integration). The process can take up to two months so we recommend you contact the International Office as soon as you can.
When you go to the Registrar to validate your visa, you will need to provide photocopies of the following documents:
- Your passport
- Your visa
- Your entry stamp (you usually receive this stamp when you arrive at an airport in France)
- If you are planning on staying in La Rochelle for more than one year
You must apply for a residency permit (une carte de séjour) at least 2-3 months before the expiration of your visa (at the end of your first year of studies). The team at the International Office will provide you with the necessary paperwork to apply for a residency permit and will explain the whole process, as well as how to fill in your request. They will check your paperwork and then forward it to the La Rochelle Prefecture on your behalf.
Opening a bank account
If you are planning on staying in La Rochelle for more than a few months, it is essential to open a bank account. Most of the major French banks have a branch near the campus (see list below) and are happy to welcome international students.
At the beginning of each semester, representatives from one of the school’s partner banks have a promotional stand at Excelia. They will be happy to help you open an account.
- BNP Paribas
- Crédit Mutuel
- Crédit Agricole
- Société Générale
- Crédit Maritime
Before leaving for France, it is also a good idea to speak to your bank in your home country, as they may have a partnership with a bank in France.
Documents required to open a bank account in France :
- A copy of your passport
- Proof of address in La Rochelle (your rental contract or proof that you are living with a host family e.g. a sworn statement from the family)
- Your Excelia student ID card
- Proof of enrolment at Excelia - known as "attestation de scolarité" (available via your WebGaïa account, go to: in My account > My administrative file > Enrolment certificate)