A justificatif de domicile is proof of residence, and you literally need one for every single account you open in France. In some cases, it’s a catch-22: you need an address before you can open a bank account, but you need a bank account in order to get a lease!
After you find housing, your very first step is therefore to get this document, so you can begin all other administrative procedures, like filing your OFII paperwork and opening a bank account.
If you live in someone’s home, you probably won’t ever have any bills in your name that would qualify as a ‘justificatif de domicile.’ Therefore, you need something called an attestation d’hébérgement. This document is a copy of your landlord’s French ID card, front and back, with the date and a note saying that you are currently living in their apartment or home. It must be accompanied by a recent utilities (gas, water, electricity) bill that is less than 3 months old.
If you live in an apartment, your very first justificatif de domicile will be your lease and your ‘quittance de loyer’ (receipt) for your first month’s rent. If the lease and quittance are handwritten documents completed on forms printed off from the internet, these documents alone may not be accepted by a bank, since anyone could print off and fill out fake documents. Therefore, ask your landlord for an ‘attestation d’hébérgement’ that can serve as your proof of residence until you get other accounts set up.
Again, you’re unlikely to have bills in your name if you live in a student residence, so your proof of residence will be in the form of your lease and your monthly rent receipts, which should be sent to you automatically. In this case, both documents should be printed and look official, and it will be easy for authorities to check their authenticity, so you shouldn’t need any additional documents.
Other types of justificatif de domicile
Once you’ve signed a lease, your next steps will be to open a bank account, buy insurance, and set up any utilities you may need to put in your name. Then, you’ll have several documents that can serve as proof of residence:
Renter’s insurance contract: Once you’ve signed up for rental insurance, the insurer will issue an attestation, or proof of insurance, with your name and the location of the insured property (your apartment). You can use this as proof of residence, and request additional copies if you need a more recent document.
Utility Bills: If you live in a student residence, you won’t have to sign up with any utilities providers, but if you’re in an apartment, you’ll probably have to sign up for electricity and maybe even gas. Both electricity and gas bills in your name that are under 3 months old can serve as proof of residence.
Utility Attestations: For some contracts, EDF (Electricité de France) issues bills every 6 months, which means that you could end up needing a justificatif de domicile when you don’t have a recent bill available. In this case, you can call EDF or log onto your account online and generate an attestation proving that you have an electricity contract for your apartment.
Landline phone bills: If internet service isn’t included in your furnished rental, you may take out your own phone/television/internet package in your name. While a landline phone bill probably won’t be accepted by the préfecture, it may be accepted by your bank, for example.
Taxe d’habitation: Every year, renters pay a tax on the apartment they’re living in on January 1 after receiving a bill issued in the fall. While students who do not live in public housing are exempt from paying this tax (you may have to write to your tax office if you get a bill), the bill itself can serve as proof of residence.