What’s the process for being authorized to work as a doctor in France?

8 avril 2020 | Medical career

Whether you’re a general practitioner or specialist, if you received your doctor’s license abroad, there are certain laws which apply. These define certain authorization procedures which must be fulfilled in order to practice medicine in France. The procedures differ depending on whether or not you are from the European Union. You must hold an equivalency degree. The authorization process has been streamlined by lawmakers both at the national and the European Union levels. Nevertheless, there is a requirement which all those who wish to practice medicine must fulfill: be registered with the Tableau de l’ordre du Conseil [Council of the College of Physicians] of the Department where you wish to practice your profession. This is why you must from the start select the region where you wish to make your career.


Doctors from the European Union


A 2005 European Union directive allows citizens coming from a European Union Member State, or from the European Economic Union and Switzerland, to be granted automatic recognition of degrees which they have obtained in those countries. This allows you to move about freely providing you have received authorization to practice your profession. If the degree you received does not comply with the education requirements set by the French government, you may be required to provide additional certification. There are three types of certifications:

  • Certification of conformity, which certifies that your degrees or training certificates meet the minimum education requirements.
  • Certification of rights obtained, which stipulates that you have effectively and legally exercised your profession in a member state.
  • Certification of legal validity, for those who have received their degree in a Member State which has undergone significant structural changes, such as the former German Democratic Republic (“East Germany”) or former Czechoslovakia. This certification certifies that the degree obtained has the same legal value as degrees which are presently granted within the European Union.

You will also be required, naturally, to have a good command of the French language.


Doctors from outside the European Union


While you are not eligible for automatic recognition, it is possible to obtain individual authorization. This document is a government ministry level authorization which is granted after a review by a committee of professionals. Depending on the degrees you obtained in your country of origin, you may be asked to take an aptitude test (to assess your knowledge of your craft), or complete a period of supervised practice (called an “adaptation period”), or both. You will also be required to have a good command of the French language. Exceptions are made for licensed doctors from Quebec, who are eligible for a special process for recognition of professional qualifications. An exception is also made for doctors from the Arabian Gulf states, who may obtain a temporary authorization to practice medicine.

Once you have fulfilled the requirements and obtained the necessary authorizations, you can freely practice medicine in France. You will then need to choose whether to be a salaried or so-called public doctor (salarié), or have a private practice (libéral).

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