Recent years have seen a creeping digitalisation of French administration, culminating in the Conseil d’Etat (Council of State) ruling that residence permit applications cannot be online-only.
Digital help desks available
Not everybody is aware, though, that it is still possible to seek help with paperwork from your local prefecture.
Every prefecture and sous-préfecture has a point d’accueil numérique (PAN, digital help desk), where people who lack an internet connection or who struggle to use a computer can receive help.
Facilities allow you to complete online applications, and print and scan documents related to Interior Ministry procedures, including issues related to driving licences, passports, and residency cards.
For the latter, there is often a dedicated PAN étrangers for foreign residents.
Book an appointment
‘Digital mediators’, usually young people working as part of the service civique scheme, are on hand to offer guidance.
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The service is free, but you need to book an appointment first, usually by telephone or via email.
An Interior Ministry map shows contact details and opening times for prefectures here.
There are also around 2,200 France Services booths which offer guidance with the same processes, as well as more general administrative tasks such as declaring taxes. They can be found here.