Sorting your life out: The Top 10 Documents to take to France

Sorting your life out: The Top 10 Documents to take to France by aigle_dore

This article was written by Lucinda Toole, published on 19th November 2014 and has been read 6157 times.

Lucinda Toole studies French at Oxford and is currently spending her year abroad as an intern at a brand agency firm in Paris. Having struggled through the notoriously difficult French bureacracy, she gives her advice on which documents to take with you for a year abroad in France.

If you’re going to France on your year abroad, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about ‘the French bureaucracy’. People who have lived in France themselves probably grimaced and shot off a string of complaints. Yes, it does appear that the French are far from becoming paper-free, and yes it is a little frustrating.

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When opening a bank account, signing a contract, applying for the CAF – basically everything you need to do to become a Real Person in France – you will be asked for a ton of documents, some of which you didn’t even know you had, let alone would need. But preparing the essentials before you go will help a lot!

This is a list of the top 10 documents that I have had to use here and there since moving to France. Get them ready before you go (and carry them with you like a life jacket) and you might feel a little less crept up on.
1. A translation of your birth certificate.

2. Convention de stage/learning agreement etc.

It is helpful to have a document that explains why you are in France – I work here, so my convention de stage, signed by my university and employer, fits the bill. Banks and the French government will want something official that explains what you’re doing in the country, and it will also prove you’re a student in England.

3. Additional proof of residence.

As I said, the bank wanted something else to prove I lived at the address provided, which turned out to be a copy of a utility bill addressed to my landlady, and a signed note from her declaring I lived there. A bit much, but it did the trick. If you only see your landlord now and again, it might be a good idea to ask for these documents straight away.

4. Possibly a copy of your landlord’s passport.

My friends didn’t need this to open a bank account, but it made the utility bill and declaration trio complete!

5. Proof of payment for your first few months’ rent.

I personally didn’t need this when applying for the CAF, but other people I know did. This can be a bank statement or an receipt.

6. Copies of your passport, NI number and EHIC card.

Have these saved on your computer to print out whenever you need them. If you want to be reimbursed for basic medicine and doctor’s appointments in France, you need your EHIC card!

7. A recent bank statement from home.

The bank also wanted this when I opened my account. It sort of shows you are a real person at home and have a stable bank account.

8. Your RIB.

As soon as you get your RIB from the bank, make a copy of it on your computer so you can print it off whenever you need it. When others want to send you money (precious and exciting moments) and when you want to send other people money (far too frequent and upsetting moments) you’ll need the details on your RIB.

9. French CV.

In the summer leading up to going away, if you have a moment, write a French CV. You’ll find templates on the Internet and in the middle part of the dictionary, so you’ll just need to pop in your details and get a French person to proofread it, if you can.

10. Make sure you ask for a feuille de soins if you go to the doctor

This is necessary if you want to be reimbursed by la caisse d’assurance maladie. Keep your receipt too, to prove what you

If you have all of these documents, you should save yourself some disappointment and frustration while settling down. The French like their documents, but if you have all of this ready to go, there shouldn’t be too much else they can ask of you – let’s hope…

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