Reader question: We are Britons with Withdrawal Agreement residency cards for France. Are we meant to keep the cards with us all the time?
Legally, in France you should be able to prove your identity at all times as well as your legal residency in France if a non-EU citizen – for example, if asked to do so by police.
Whereas in the case of a French or EU citizen just the identity card or passport suffice to show both identity and legal residency, this is not the case for non-EU/EEA citizens.
Valid identity documents include a driving licence or passport, carte Vitale or elector’s card (or national identity card if you are French) but yes, in theory, third country citizens should also have their carte de séjour.
If you cannot prove your credentials when asked, the police have the right to detain you for further checks at a police station for up to four hours.
Paris police suggested to The Connexion that photocopies would do if you do not want to carry documents all the time.
In practice, however, you can only be asked for your documents in very limited circumstances.
Even so, you should show the card at external EU borders (ie. on France-UK trips), so as not to be logged as being a third-country visitor with only the right to stay for up to 90 days in any 180.
It may also be required for many administrative formalities, such as claiming family allowance from the Caf.
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