Becoming French Part 3: More Paperwork, S’il Vous Plaît!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Heather Stimmler-Hall in Dual Citizenship, Dual nationality, Expats and Locals, France, carte de séjour, immigration, naturalization

If you’ve been following my French-American dual-citizenship adventures, you’ll recall in the second installment that I was waiting for my “apostilled” birth certificate to arrive from the US. It did indeed arrive, with the IRC inside and a note on it that says, “we can’t use these”. Well, at least they were nice enough to spring for the postage to France and give it back to me.

I then had to get the birth certificate and the apostille (another page with a paragraph of text and a stamp) translated into French. Because all of that info like dates and places and names are complicated, apparently. You can’t just have anyone do this. Not even just any professional translator. You have to use an official government translator, one of the ones who appear in the annually published list at any town hall. For English, there are about 15 of them. They all charge different rates, but in all it’s about €80 for the apostille and birth certificate. I decided to send them in before the April holidays (Easter) get going and everyone leaves for the week. I emailed around and found a place where the owner said to come in “before Friday if you need it next week”. I go in on Thursday, and the secretary tells me they can’t do it for another two weeks. Grrr. I leave it anyway, and return three weeks later to pick it up.

I send this entire package (almost 60 sheets of paper!) to the Préfecture de Paris late in April. I get the entire thing back three weeks later, in a cute little folder with my name and dossier number and even a bar code and the name of the actual human being in charge of deciding whether or not I will get to have a French passport or not.

There is a typed cover letter (typed! So much has changed since my student days!) asking me for some additional documents, and that I have six month to send them in with the rest of the dossier or I will have to start the whole process over. Since it was the day before leaving for New York for the month, I put it aside for June.

The extras they asked for included more tax forms, a bibliography of my published works, and proof of writing contracts. Easy enough.

They also ask for «L’original de l’extrait du casier judiciaire des pays étrangers où vous avez habité plus de 6 mois au cours des 10 dernières années précédent votre demande.» They asked for this the first time, but I have been in France over 10 years, so I write a note explaining that, and hope I don’t need to do the whole “send your official fingerprints into the FBI and then when your report arrives get that translated” routine.

Finally, they ask for «Inscription à l’ordre Professionnel dont vous dépendez (enregistrement numéro SIRET).» No problem, I thought. But when I checked my INSEE document for my SIRET (company ID#) I realized it was still under the address I lived at in 2002. So I checked online to print out an updated version at the official INSEE site, and when I punch in my number, it says, “Unknown”. D’oh! A trip to the local tax office to clear things up. I am the only one in line, and a very nice woman goes out of her way to help me (she explains my number was never officially transferred from the offices on the French Riviera when I moved, so it expired and needed to be reinstated). At one point she told me to have the offices in Nice send a document attesting to my prior residence. When I looked at her with a pained expression (everything in that part of the country takes years to get done...YEARS!) she relented and went into “the back” to do it herself. Ten minutes later she tells me I should get the new form in the mail in a week, with the correct address, dates, and profession. Yay!

And it does indeed arrive a week later (I’m loving La Poste). But...it says “Monsieur Heather Stimmler-Hall”. D’oh encore! I wonder if I can wing it and hope the Préfecture doesn’t notice. Right. I make a call to the INSEE offices again and ask them to send a new one with the correction. A month later it still hasn’t arrived, so I mail in the old one to their offices with a giant circle around the “Monsieur” and an “X” through it. I attaché a photocopy of my ID card just in case they don’t believe me. I get the corrected form back a week later. :D

I send the now 75+ pages of my dossier back to the Préfecture and cross my fingers. Let’s hope September brings me luck!

Next:

Becoming French Part 4: The Interview

Back to:

Becoming French, Part 1: The Question of Dual Citizenship

Becoming French, Part 2: Naturalization Paperwork

Article originally appeared on The only authentic insider guide to Paris. (http://www.secretsofparis.com/).
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