Expat Reference Page

Important information for US and Canadian citizens living in France.

While I was at the US Embassy here in Paris one day, I watched a number of people struggling with the various tasks required of us when we decide to move to France (temporarily or permanently). It made me think about my first time going to the Prefecture to get my student carte de séjour. What a flippin’ nightmare that was.  And then I had to do it again for my health insurance, and when I got married, and then when I exchanged my driver’s license for a French one. Nothing is simple when it comes to dealing with French bureaucracy. The stereotype and the joke are both true. Unfortunately.

All this got me thinking about putting together a Reference Page that outlines in one place all the information you need to know about the administrative steps of living in France. When I got home from the Embassy this afternoon, I did just that.

So, by way of introduction, let me call your attention to the new page at the top of Becoming Madame entitled “Expat Reference Page.” If you are in need of practical information regarding the steps to take when you are applying for your carte de séjour (student) or carte de résidence (familial) or getting your health care card or exchanging your license or getting married in France, take a peek at this page for all the links to the relevant sites and information, as well as the inside scoop.

I’ve been there and it was ghastly. (Especially because most of it was done before I became fluent in French.) I didn’t have anyone to guide me. I feel the least I can do is try to outline the system and the labyrinth of steps for the next ones who come alone.

If you have a particular question, please don’t hesitate to send me an email. I’d rather spend a half-hour explaining something to you than you spending four hours in the wrong building and having to start all over again. (Been there too, and it’s so demoralizing!)

I hope you find this new page useful.

Another great Expat page for information on all kinds of moving to and living in France, visit American Expat in France.

Bonne lecture!

THIS INFORMATION IS CORRECT AS OF FEBRUARY 2012. IF YOU FIND THAT A SITE IS NO LONGER FUNCTIONING, KINDLY LET US KNOW SO THAT WE CAN CONTINUE TO PROVIDE A RELIABLE SERVICE TO OUR FELLOW EXPATS. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!

12 thoughts on “Expat Reference Page”

  1. Spoon Feast said:

    I have always wanted to live in France. This seems like you would spend most of your time making triplicate copies, translating and waiting in line. Yikes! Is it really that daunting?

    But then again, I have never tried to live in the US as a foreigner either. Bet that is tough too.

  2. Very nice blog!

  3. j’adore la veste

  4. top post thanks for this

  5. We recently moved to Paris from Toronto on a “transfert de mission” (my husband’s work transfer) and I have found that the bureaucracy isn’t as bad as I had expected though we do speak French which does help.

    Yes, you always have to build your file of documents (or “dossier”) but once you understand the process, it is actually quite smooth sailing. I made certain to read the list of documents requested very carefully and multiple times. Once you have everything compiled and you get to the various French services, I have found it easy to get through.

    • I’m very glad you had a good time with it. It is certianly a different process for those entering the country with a job/ a company sponsoring them. In some cases, the company can even take care of a bulk of the process for the applicant. Otherwise, the immigration agents are largely laid back in these cases for North Americans and especailly married couples, which makes perfect sense.

      And, as with everything, once you understand how it works, it’s smooth sailing. :)

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