January 10, 2012

Moving to France Tutorial - Part Six

Hôtel de Ville

Today's topic, the 10 Year Carte de Résident. 

A daunting subject, I know.

Translated from the www.service-public.fr website:
"A carte de résident bearing the words "résident de longue durée - CE" may be issued to any foreigner who has resided legally and continuously for at least 5 years in France.
This card is valid for 10 years.
The applicant must meet several conditions."

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it?
I'm afraid it isn't. 

French bureaucracy never is.


I've been struggling to write this post for what seems like forever now. More specifically, for about a year and a half. I thought it would be the perfect final chapter of my Moving to France Tutorial, but could never seem to finish it.

The first problem: the laws keep changing.
The second problem: each préfecture/sous-préfecture is its own little fiefdom. So while some friends have applied for the card and unfortunately been denied for no legitimate reason, others just have merely asked and received, without any hassle.

We were two of the lucky ones.
A few years ago a letter came in the mail stating that we were to appear at the sous-préfecture on a given day, at the ridiculously early hour of 8am.
That was it. No more information given.
Which kind of freaked us out.
On the day of our appointment we arrived with our bulky dossiers and stood outside in the dark with the others, waiting for the doors to open. When it was finally our turn to be seen, the man behind the desk explained why we were there and proceeded with the interview, which included a series of questions and a basic test of our French conversational abilities.
That was it. The cards arrived a few months later.

Metro - B&W

So it seems to me that there is no rhyme or reason when it comes to this card, and after 18 months of on again, off again research, I've decided that I just don't feel confident enough to offer sound advice on how to tackle the elusive 10 year carte de résident. Because it is just that: ELUSIVE.

The best I can do is share a link to this French government website.
It is in French of course, which shouldn't be a problem because I assume that if you're reading this and are ready to apply for your carte de résident, you can speak French. (I hope you can, because they'll be testing you!)
The site is updated frequently and lists all the papers you'll need and all the fees associated with the card. After that it's all down to finding a sympathetic fonctionnaire to help you through the process.


If you're in the midst of applying, or are about to apply for the carte de résident, I hope it goes as smoothly for you as it did for us.
Good luck!

As always, I love to hear other French bureaucracy stories, so if you have one to share, please do!

The first five parts of the Moving to France Tutorial.

Part 1 - Why Do You Want to Live in France?
Part 2 - Finding Your French Consulate
Part 3 - Finding a Place to Live in France
Part 4 - The Carte de Séjour
Part 5 - Joining the French Health System

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Unknown said...

Fits in perfectly with my citizenship post from yesterday - will be linking to this at the bottom of my post!

Jennifer said...

Thanks Lindsey! I read your post and am sure you're frustrated by the recent changes in the law. Who knows though, after the elections they might revert?

Diane said...

If you have to have a visa to come to France, then I guess all you have written from Part one to here is correct. Not all of this applies to people moving from the UK. In my case it is even more complicated as I have lived in Africa most of my life. I have always had a UK passport. I never worked in the UK, I therefore do not get a pension. I cannot get forms from the UK (despite being born there, living there for the past 10 years, free health care from the NHS) to allow me to get on to the French health System. I have been told now, that when Nigel gets his pension in November 2012, as his wife, I should then get a small pension. I can then apply again for an S1 form which should then allow me onto the French Health System. Meanwhile I have to pay everything up front,and then claim from the NHS. They will pay about 70% (eventually). I can only get top up insurance if I pay for it privately. It is all very complicated!! Nigel has no problems, he has an S1 from UK pensions as he has paid in all his life.
Different rules for different countries. Diane

Unknown said...

I was told that as an American I could get my 10 year card after 3 years. This was told to me my first time I applied for a one year card. So at the third renewal process I was automatically entered to get the 10 year card. I didn't have to give any new papers or anything. It was incredibly smooth for living in the 93 which is the most dense area for immigrants in France.

The first year to get my card I completed 200 mandatory hours of French, took the physical to make sure I wasn't bringing in any terrible diseases, and paid a handsome fee of 260 euros the first year. It was 60 for the 2nd and 3rd and then 110 euros this last year cause they said the fee went up for everyone.

Anyways, it was hard and they wanted to send me out of the country my firs time going to the prefecture. Even though I was now married to my French husband it didn't matter. The only thing that saved me was that we had signed a PACS more than 6 months before this meeting so they okayed me to continue the process. There are no guarantees for married couples to get to stay together!

This was my first September that I didn't have to go to the prefecture at 5am and start waiting in line to be let in at 9h30 and it was amazing.

Unknown said...

I could have written this post myself..I could not sympathize more. I have been in France for 8 years and is still carrying around my "attestation de numero de sécurité sociale" on a A4 sheet of paper (it has seen its better days..) as I am incapable of getting my carte vitale. There is always something that blocks. And it took 8 months and I don't know how many letters and phone calls just to get the sheet of paper.
WTF -Welcome to France

mlle norvegienne

Liza in Ann Arbor said...

Ah, if only I had these problems ;) Stuck in the US for now, but often dream of retiring in France. Someday...

Murissa said...

Thanks for sharing!
How did you learn French? Were you self taught or did you take French Immersion like I did (grades 1-8). I wanted to continue with my studies but my family ended up moving to a small town that offered more Russian than French (and in Canada!).
I want to get back into it, I still retained a lot of the language. What do you suggest to help me get back on the French bike?

The Wanderfull Traveler

Maria said...

is it this unpredictable even if you? buy property

Carla said...

the Everest of Agony I called it too long winded to go into but suffice to say it was not as smooth sailing as yours...........lots of tears before bedtime BUT I must say since July last year I have it under lock and key in my apartment, there was a party. Have been told do not lose it as almost as hard as the first time for a replacement. So i have a few photocopies tucked away!!!
Carla x

Keir said...

Obviously, lots of different situations and outcomes. Ours was relatively painless too, but with some days of insecurity. We had lived in Paris from 2001-2003 for my work. I have dual citizenship {British/American} and my husband is American. We received our carte de sejour at the time and then returned to the U.S. and then moved to Scotland. Upon our return to France in 2010 for retirement we filed for a renewal of my husband's carte. It appeared to be no problem, but after many weeks of no response we discovered that he was linked to my initial carte and the prefecture required that I apply for a renewal, which I did immediately. No problem, his carte was renewed for 10 years and mine was renewed, but it was an extension from our departure in 2003, rather than 10 years from our new application. As for the health care, we applied last year for CMU de base and it took about 5 weeks [several clarifying phone calls and an in-person discussion of our income] for the whole process to be completed with the statement of our affiliation to the system, but no specifics about when we would actually receive our carte vitale. I can't complain about any of the interactions. Every person [all female] we dealt with was helpful and very cheerful.

Jennifer said...

Your case does sound complicated!

I originally wrote this series for people from America/Canada/Australia, etc,. -those of us who must get visas before coming to France and work through the system from there.

Jennifer said...

Maybe it was only 3 years because you were married to a Frenchman? We had to have lung x-rays as well, but were never told that we should leave the country. Good think you had all of your paperwork in order. Congratulations on no more waiting in line at the préfecture!

Jennifer said...

I am always disheartened when I hear stories like yours. Our sous-préfecture was difficult to deal with over the years, but at least we got to where we are now. (though sometimes I wonder if it was truly a miracle)
I hope 2012 brings you a shiny new Carte Vitale!

Jennifer said...

You sound patient, and patience is one thing you will need if you ever live in France! :)

Jennifer said...

I studied French in high school, at University and was an au pair for six months when I was 21.
If I were you I would start listening to French radio when you're puttering around the house, watch French films in French with English subtitles and study a little bit every day.
And spend as much time in France as you can, of course. :)

Jennifer said...

I'm afraid buying property doesn't necessarily give you the right to live full time in France.

Jennifer said...

We made photocopies as well. :)

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like it was very easy!

Ken Broadhurst said...

Our process was pretty easy too. The mayor of our village said the préfecture wanted to know three things: did we speak French? Did we own our house? And did we participate in the life of the community? We passed inspection. We waited until we had been here six years before we applied for the 10-year carte de résident.

Oh, when I first called the préfecture about the ten-year card, the first thing they asked was whether I had a retirement pension. Luckily, I did (and do). The ten-year card is also a work permit.

We had some trouble with the health care system (getting the CMU) but all the agents were very easy to talk to and very understanding of our situation. It's all sorted out now and our quarterly contributions into the system are more than reasonable considering the coverage we get.

Jennifer said...

They were interested if we had integrated into the community as well.
I'm glad that you had an easy time getting your cards. Isn't it nice not to have to re-apply every year? :)

Dave Hatfield said...

LouLou, Thanks for a great series of posts.
I was one of the lucky ones I think. Although I'm American my wife is British. I worked in England & paid my taxes there long enough to quality as an English pensioner.
Thus, when we moved to France 11 years ago everything went very smoothly. I got my first 'Carte' with no hassle even though I hadn't even talked to the French consulate in the states. Go my 10 year 'carte' only two years later.
The Uk pensions people sent me an E121 which got us into the medical system straightaway.

As I say; very lucky. We've found the staff at the prefecture in Montauban (Tarn et Garonne) to be easy to deal with.
One tip I would give to anybody going through the whole process: Even though your French may be excellent; try to find a native French person who understands the bureaucracy well and get them to help you. Our good friend Jacques has been invaluable in steering us through the maze and talking on our behalf.
Having said all of that I'll still be nervous when I come up for renewal in 2014!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I think you make an excellent point...finding a native French speaker to help with the intricacies of French bureaucracy is invaluable!
Good luck with your renewal!