Carte de Séjour – French Identity Card: Round 2

Montauban's Place Nationale plus cafés
Montauban’s Place Nationale plus cafés

I need to point out that this series of three posts was written in 2013, so if you’re looking for information about how to apply for a post-Brexit carte de séjour, you need to contact your préfecture. Things have changed in that time.

I wrote about Round 1 of our efforts to renew our Cartes de Séjour here. When we first moved to France in 1997, these cards were obligatory. They are no longer so for EU citizens but we decided we wanted to renew ours when they expired in early January this year. They are a useful proof of identity and residence in France.

The Préfecture in Montauban issued us with forms to complete, a list of documents to collate and a date for an interview to hand them over – Round 2. We were interested to note that a first demand for a card requires 12 different supporting documents; a renewal requires 15.

Picture this…

We duly collected all this information, photocopied it several times and puzzled over the irrelevant questions on the form. The fun started when we went to the supermarket’s photomaton (automatic photo booth) to get the three passport-sized photos required. You install yourself on the uncomfortable stool, compose your face into the appropriate expression – about to go to the scaffold – and listen to the copious instructions for several minutes before the machine takes the photo. It costs €5 a go.

Disaster. They were horribly over-exposed. I looked as if I were in the last stages of pernicious anaemia while the SF resembled something out of a Hammer House of Horror film. And we both looked as if we had just been sentenced to hanging, drawing and quartering. Convinced that these would not conform to the required standard, we decided to apply for our money back and get the photos in Montauban instead on the day of our convocation.

The Préfecture has a photomaton in the foyer. The SF duly went through the procedure and paid the dosh. Then the machine informed him that for technical reasons it was unable to deliver the photos. Another €5 euros down the drain. The man at Reception was unusually sympathetic for a French bureaucrat – and even offered to phone the photomaton company for us. But since time was running out and we already had two other refunds to claim, we went to a photo shop instead where a photographer took good shots of us for €4.50 euros each.

Lesson: don’t use a photomaton if you want half-decent photos.

Not quite over the final hurdle   

After that, it all went swimmingly. We were the first to be seen at the Préfecture after lunch, although we had to wait outside in the cold for them to open reinforced gates that made Fort Knox look under-protected. I didn’t take a photo of them since I thought they wouldn’t understand that I just wanted it for my blog.

A jolly woman in the Service des étrangers checked through our applications, chatted to the SF about Sweden, took our fingerprints electronically, gave us a receipt and…wait for it…told us we would receive a convocation to collect the cards – assuming, of course, that they approve our applications. Watch this space for Round 3.

While we were there, I asked them about taking French citizenship. I believe I am eligible for dual nationality, which would enable me to hedge my bets if the UK does ever come out of the EU. More importantly, French citizenship would allow me to vote in all the French elections. Another very nice lady told us what to do and handed over a set of voluminous forms – to be completed in duplicate. Judging by the hoops you have to jump through, you’ve got to really, really, want to become a French citizen…

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. Ahhh, having recently left la France for retirement in my erstwhile homeland of California, this entry made me fog up a bit, recalling all of the shifting goal posts that getting the carte de sejour entailed. I briefly considered applying for citizenship but every time I managed to collect about half the required documents (avec l’apostille, madame!), the regulations changed and I needed something else. I admit that my having spent the previous ten years in Hungary did complicate things a bit. By the time the translations of all the documents were ready, the meter would have run out again. I finally decided that, as there was no economic benefit to getting it, I would just keep the ten year carte de sejour.

    You may be interested to know that it doesn’t end once one has left the country, either. The City Clerk of my new home town was bemused last week when I asked for his signature and that embossed stamp on a document from the Assurance de Retraite to prove that I was standing before him, *alive* and residing here. My bank, LCL, refused to accept my change of address until I could provide proof in the form of a lease or electric bill that I had moved.

    Still, I do miss it all. It’s just so…French!


    • You must miss France – for all its foibles. I know I would. They do keep changing the regulations regarding citizenship but it takes so long to collect all the requisite documents that I imagine you are constantly chasing your tail.

      I’m not in the least surprised to hear that you had to provide all that proof to LCL. The arm of French bureaucracy is long!

      Bonne retraite.


  2. And we moan about bureaucracy here in Spain! The rules and regs are always changing but sometimes for the better. Just renewed my Spanish driving licence and this time got 10 years duration and also obtained (free) Spanish National health cover in my own right – both I believe thanks to new EU laws.


    • Good for you! Things do change gradually here – for example, I was pleasantly surprised at the friendlier attitude of the Préfecture staff. But the amount of paperwork doesn’t seem to diminish.


  3. Thanks Vanessa, you reminded me, I must check out about citizenship. My Carte de Sejour is well out of date but still accepted as proof of identity. When I finally get to Tarbes to check out the procedure, it will be interesting to see my experiences are similar to yours. Good luck in getting your card renewed and, eventually, becoming a dual citizen!


    • If I do decide to go down that route, no doubt my experiences will appear here! But I think I’ll get the Carte de Séjour saga over first.


  4. This sounds so similar to what I had to go through to get my carte nationale d’identite replaced when my bag got stolen in Madrid. It’s always fun and games with French bureaucracy!


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