The reason that many people have trouble acquiring a carte de séjour is that they are unable to communicate in French with the fonctionnaires. However, I would not sit for up to six hours waiting. When the final Brexit agreement is agreed either there will be no need for a card or they will be readily available.
After five years residency there is no pressing need for a card, provided people can meet the French paperwork requirements such as tax statements etc. A carte will never streamline any future card.
Cavan JACKSON, by email
A senior Interior Ministry official told Connexion the ministry hopes that after Brexit those with cards as EU citizens would not have to get a new card but if they do, the process would be simplified.
This could be compared to the rules for renewing a permanent carte after 10 years, which involve reduced paperwork.
The official said France plans to respect the residency rights of those with cards (and those able to show the same legal, continuous residency with documents) even if there is no deal. However, whatever happens, Britons will ultimately need a card of some form. Piles of paperwork alone will not be practical proof when they are “third country citizens”. The best course remains to obtain a card as soon as possible, especially as there are already delays at some prefectures.
Congratulations on an excellent Brexit helpguide. I would like to tell of our experience of obtaining a carte in the Vendée (La Roche-sur-Yon). In the feedback section, comments for our area were negative, whereas our experience was not.
We applied by lettre recommandée avec avis de réception (LRAR) and 10 days later received application forms partially filled in with our details, a proposed meeting date and a list (different to the government one) of supporting documents. The meeting took 30 minutes and three weeks later we received a message saying we could collect our cards.
Based on this, we suggest that it helps to make an initial application in writing and send it LRAR so you have proof and obtain a written reply; take all documents asked for, even if some are different from the “official” list; if applying as a couple, ensure each dossier contains all of the documents and is well-organised.
Barry and Lyn TATE, Vendée
It is good to hear that things have improved in the Vendée. We agree it may minimise problems if you check in advance what documents your prefecture expects, though it is disappointing some are still asking for superfluous documents according to the Interior Ministry. This is especially true as the question then arises as to whether they expect items in English, such as a birth certificate, to be translated, at significant cost.
Are any other British people in France willing but unable to pursue dual citizenship purely for financial reasons? I live on a pension of €1,000 a month and cannot afford having the necessary family birth, death, divorce and marriage certificates translated into French at prices quoted by accredited translators. I would take some small comfort in knowing I am not alone.
Lyn Preston, Côtes d’Armor
We doubt you are alone. The cost can indeed be high, especially if your prefecture insists on multiple documents related to your parents, such as birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates (unlike French birth certificates, UK ones do not have all the major subsequent events noted on them). However we suggest checking with your prefecture for its precise requirements as some consider that just UK birth certificates are sufficient.
Based on emails exchanged with the prefecture of the Dordogne, there is no way of knowing when its rendezvous system will open up again, short of checking its site everyday! What recourse have we got if despite trying we cannot get one? I think this issue should be raised with the UK and French authorities. I know people who had no problem getting appointments in Lot-et-Garonne but Dordogne seems different.
Jacky Chater, Dordogne
The prefecture did not offer a solution when we contacted it but previously told British community representatives later dates will open mid-month. The Interior Ministry and embassy are aware of issues at a number of prefectures. You can tell the embassy of your issues at tinyurl.com/y7apmqo9.
We received our 10-year cartes in seven weeks. The process took 15 minutes in Gap and they called when the card was ready. They volunteered to send it to the sub-prefecture in Briançon and save us a 200km round trip. The staff were helpful. On a practical note, can the card be used as a form of ID, dispensing with the need to carry a passport when leaving home? Can it be used within the Schengen zone too?
Ian Shedden, Hautes-Alpes
Yes, it is valid in France (as is a French driving licence – the key factors are a photo and the fact it was issued by the state). However you should not travel in other Schengen countries without a passport. A European Commission spokeswoman said that only a passport or a national ID card is acceptable for this (or in the case of non-EU citizens, a passport and their visa and/or residency card). A residency document on its own is not enough.
Your ongoing advice about cards is sound and all living in France should renew or apply for one. Lord Lawson will, just like anyone else, have to wait in line and have his fingerprints recorded.
We have just renewed ours. I do not consider the demands for specific information too onerous and as for proving where and how long we have lived in France, our mairie provided a text in five minutes. Readers who get hot under the collar should remember we live in another country and they make their own rules.
Chris Eatough, Nièvre
We love our home and life here among French friends. We were aghast at the propaganda that surrounded the Brexit referendum and astonished by the result.
However, with a little belt-tightening we intend to remain here for the long term.
With all the uncertainty, and with Connexion’s advice, we applied so as to be ahead of what may become a scramble. We received letters stating we have no need for cards as our right to be here under EU law is unchanged. It states that cards were abandoned in 2003.
David Serpell, Gironde
While EU citizens have not been obliged to have cards since the early 2000s, they are an optional right. The embassy now recommends obtaining one, as do French Interior Ministry officials in communication with Connexion. This is to prove you are in continuous, legal residency and – hopefully – beat the rush that is likely when it becomes obligatory for Britons to have a card.