CAF and APL: a personal guide on how to get it without problems (2021)

Hi everybody, I’m cab, I wanted to write a guide on how to get the APL (L’aide personnalisée au logement (APL) from the CAF (Caisse d'Allocation Familiale) as a foreigner student in France. It was hard for me and many others, let’s try to make your life easier!

The APL is a “personalised help for rent”, which means a monthly amount of money to help you  pay your rent. The CAF is the public body which regulates the various economic assitance measures of the country. Sometimes, the APL is wrongly referred as CAF. But the APL is just one of the various services of the CAF.

Some necessary premises:

>This guide is completely based on my experience it will not be a precise step-by-step guide but a list of advice on how to go through the process and on how to better face problems you might encounter. For what I’ve seen, every student had different problems and answers while trying to get the APL. Do not take my words as the absolute truth, but as recommendations, a general walkthrough, helpful to read in advance.

>I was an Erasmus student, from Italy. I stayed in Paris, from January 2021 to July 2021. So, this is not a very recent guide and they have already changed something from last year. Maybe, this updated guide in French can help:

>The process is mainly done through the CAF website or the app and from your personal area which is called “Mon Compte”.

CAF website:

Here you can start the procedure: (if links do not work, copy and paste it in the search bar)

Here you can check if you are eligible for the APL and see how much money you would get (generally it is 1/3 of the rent, the money depends on which city/area you live and size of apartment):

 1.     Be patient

If you are lucky, it will take you two months to get your money. But, sooner or later, you’ll get it, don’t worry.

It can be a tedious bureaucratic hell, but you can get out of it, just wait and try to understand the situation.

 2.     Who can get the APL?

Generally, if you are a paying a rent in France, both in an apartment or in a CROUS residency, with a contract you are eligible for it.

BUT the apartment itself maybe not, so ask the landlord if it is eligible for the APL. If you are a working student, you can still get it but it may be more complicated and you probably would get less money.

The link to check if you are eligible is right above point 1.

You can find the condition on the website here:

 3.     I will stay in France for less than 8 months, can I still get it?


I stayed there for less than 8 months and so did some of my friends, and we all got our money.


Probably because the contract length of the apartment is at least of 1 year and then you can end it before the 12 months so it counts as you will stay there more than 8 months.

 4.     Complete the request for the APL as soon as possible.

They amount of money you will get is given monthly. Counted starting from the day you complete your request for the APL.  NOT from the day your contract starts. Also, if some month went by, after you completed the procedure, with the first payment you will get the money of the previous months too.


Contracts begins February 1st

You start the procedure for  the APL on the February 10

You receive the email “Accusé de réception de demande d'AL” on February 11th

The money you will receive with the first payment will be from February 11th until today.

 5.     When my request for the APL is completed?

You successfully completed the request when you receive the email with object “Accusé de réception de demande d'AL”  and in the body of the email there’s written “Accusé de réception
d'une démarche en ligne”. If you don’t receive it, you didn’t complete the procedure. I got it the same day, so if in a couple of days, it doesn’t arrive something went wrong. You can start the procedure and continue it in another moment but I suggest to do it in one take, if you follow the steps correctly it is easy.

 6.     French security number

I was able to do it without a French security number (VISALE) I used my Italian Social Security card/number (thanks EU) and had no problems. So, if you are from an EU country  you can use your home country Social Security card, you can avoid putting it while compiling the APL request, but it will be needed later. So if you’re from a not-EU country, probably you need a VISALE.

 7.     Get a French phone number (highly suggested)

While creating your account it is required to insert your phone number. If you have a French phone number you will get the SMS with the temporary password, without problems, which is extremely important. If you don’t have a French phone number, well there’s a good chance you won’t receive the SMS. Many friends of mine who used their Italian phone number, never received the temporary password and entered an infinite loop of calls and emails to get it.

So, please get a French phone number, there are some companies like SFR that gives you a SIM card for just 1€ (actually you pay something like 10 euro to get it) but you pay once and never more.

Another possibility is using the French phone number of some friends, just to get the text, should work, never tried.

 8.     RIB (IBAN)

The address where you’ll get your money.

IBAN from the SEPA area (basically European countries) are accepted. I used Revolut, with an IBAN from Lithuania and had no problems.

If you need to open a French bank account, try with Nickel.

If you need just a SEPA RIB in order to get your APL, try with Revolut.

 9.     Starting the procedure

In order to start the procedure you need to create your account or “Créer un compte”. Pay attention because here the first problems can start. Just follow the steps based on your situation and the advice I gave above. If you are a not-working student, put that you don’t have any revenue, like you’re not financially independent from your family. This will be helpful later on.

If everything went correctly you will end up with anuméro de sauvegarde(I received by e-mail) and a temporary password (I received by sms but some others by e-mail too)

They are extremely important because they will be necessary for the first access. Once you received the confirmation e-mail I mentioned before, you are fine.

10.  Numéro Allocataire

Once you received the confirmation e-mail, thenuméro de sauvegardeand the temporary password, you now have to wait for the “numèro allocataire”.

Ok so thenumèro allocataire, is the most important thing you have to remember. Don’t lose it.

You can receive it either by e-mail or by mail. It depends.

It took me more than 15 days (Saturday and Sundays included) to get it by mail. So don’t worry. It can take even longer. The important thing is, if you got the confirmation e-mail, thenuméro de sauvegardeand the temporary password you are fine.

 11.  First access

Once you received yournumèro allocataire, you can do your first access. Put yournumèro allocataire, temporary password andnuméro de sauvegarde.

You will be asked to modify the last two. And from now on, you will use the new ones  and thenumèro allocataireto sign in “Mon Compte”

 12.  Documents

The next step is sending the various documents you need to the CAF. In order to do so, you need to know what documents they need. This can vary.

Generally, you will receive by email or by mail the list of the required documents. Then you can send them by e-mail or by mail.

Pay attention, the e-mail address to send the documents is different for each CAF. Each area of France has a different CAF office based on the ZIP/Postal code. You need to find the right address for your area, it should be written in the text where they list you the required documents. If you send them by e-mail you need to put yournumèro allocataireas object.

My experience: since I wasn’t getting thenuméro allocataireI wrote an e-mail to the CAF, asking them mynuméro allocataire, not only they answered me with mynuméro allocatairebut also with the list of the required documents (very lucky, but it took them more than a week to answer!)

The list of the documents needed is different for each person, but in my case, it was the following.

-certificat de scolarité

 (School/University cerficate)

-copie recto verso de votre carte d'assurance maladie européenne
ou attestation d'affiliation à l'assurance maladie  

(copy of European Social Security Card)

 -un courrier  ou vous déclarez sur l'honneur avoir  des ressources suffisantes pour résider en FRANCE    

(a written self-declaratation on my honour that I have enough resources to live in France)

-copie recto verso de votre carte d'identitée ou du passeport 

(a copy of my ID)

-copie intégrale de votre acte de naissance 

(a copy of my birthday certificate)

-attestation de loyer, document CERFA 10842*07 rempli par votre bailleur 

(A specif filled form by the landlord)

Generally, the birthday certificate, the ID, the Social Security Card, the School certificate and the “attestation de loyer” are always asked.

About the “self-declaration on my honour to have enough resources to live in France”, they asked me that, probably because while compiling the APL I put that I still live with my family, so I’m not financially independent or something like that. If you are in a similar situation you should be asked the same things. Anyway, if you have to do it you can find an official form here:

If you pay your own taxes, or you are currently working in France it may be different and they can ask you to fill in a form where you declare your revenue and so on. But if you are a student, you shouldn’t need that.

About the birthday certificate, it must be in French. Everyone recommended to me to get it in French and so I did (even though it is not specified in the list). Probably sending it in your mother tongue can be a problem and it is not accepted. So, I suggest you yo ask your registry office to have it in French.

About the Social Security Card, again having the Italian one, they asked me a copy of that. So, I was able to used that without getting the VISALE but probably if you’re not from the EU you will need it.

About the “Attestation de loyer”, it is this document that you can find here:

If you live in an (shared or not) apartment, the landlord must compile only the first page.

If you live in a CROUS residency or something similar, the office of the structure must compile only the second page.

13.  Wait for your money

If you sent the right documents and you’re all set, you just need to wait for your money to arrive. In “Mon Compte” > “Suivre mes démarches” > “Courriers Courriels”. In this page, below “Historique”, you can follow the procedure and see when you sent the documents if the CAF received them, if they’re working on your APL and so on. If they had some problems with your documents or something else, you should be able to find it here or in “Mon Compte”. Anyway, once they accepted the documents, in the main page of “Mon Compte” you should be able to see how much money you will get in the next payment.

 14.  Closing the APL

Ok, if you’re leaving your place or moving to another apartment you have also to end your current APL.

You can do it in “Mon Compte” or if you are a student you could receive an e-mail where they ask if you if you are going to stay there for the summer and then there’s a link where they re-direct you to the CAF website and after you logged in you can end your APL by writing the date you’re supposed to leave.

Pay attention, once you close your APL, you probably are still going to get the money after you left the place for like 1-2 months, don’t worry they are going to ask you the not-due amount back.

 15.  Contacts

In case you had some problems and you didn’t find a way to solve them, there are three ways to contact the CAF and ask for help.

By email, from “Mon Compte” there is a contact page where you can send them an e-mail, again do not expect an immediate answer.

By calling the CAF,  there are several phone numbers. You will be asked yournuméro allocataire,password and (maybe) your French Social Security Card number in order to contact them. The main one is 3230. With some friends we find and try to call other CAF phone numbers and the ones that worked for us were:


-0810 292929

-0969 325252

-From abroad, +33 0969322121

(I don’t know if they still work)

By going to the CAF offices, in each city/area there are some CAF offices, you can try to go there and talk to someone at the welcome desk.

Describe accurately your situation and your problem. Contact them only if you are sure you are at a dead end. For example, if you are waiting for thenuméro allocataire, don’t waste time asking them “where is mynuméro allocataire?”,just wait that it arrives.

Here you can find the page with the info on how to contact the CAF:

Hope it was helpful!

Leave a comment if you have some questions I’ll try to answer and share you’re experience if you have other tips!

Comments (1 comments)

  • flag- cab a 2 months ago

    Vitale not Visale, sorry

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