Thursday, January 31, 2013

Paid in Stamps

After having had many problems with the French préfecture incorrectly typing my birthdate in the files (what's the matter with being born in January instead of February? Nothing, except I was non existant in January in the year I was born), I finally have my Carte de Sejour!

Which means:
I'm LEGAL in France!

*doing a little happy dance a la Charlie Brown*

So now, you will get a lesson in how to get your carte de sejour should you ever wish to live in France.

Leçon 1: Be on top of EVERYTHING. Look over every document before you leave the Préfecture, otherwise it's almost better to let it be. (trust me, I seriously considered letting the birthdate slide. Thankfully, Mr. K was here to talk me out of it.)

Leçon 2: When they do make a mistake (and it happens), be very polite and never say that you found the mistake at home after having had the document 2 months in your possession. Use the impersonal.
"A mistake was discovered on the birthdate, here." And be prepared to show the correct one.
Don't blame them, and don't put yourself into the problem either. It's just the nice thing to do. It also helps tremendously to attempt to say that in French. They are not required to speak your language and most of them do not know your language or are very shy about making a mistake, so they won't try to speak to you in yours.

Leçon 3:  Make sure you have proper payment.  It makes everyone's day easier.
You are not allowed to pay for your carte de sejour with a credit/bank card or checks or even cash. Nope.You have to pay for it with Timbres Fiscaux (or in English, Fiscal Stamps). Make sure you get a stamp envelope too, otherwise you'll be putting the precious things directly into your purse where the purse monster lives.

That's a lot of money.
The problem with fiscal stamps is that you cannot "break" them, say, if by chance your amount needed changes.

This I found out on Monday, when I went to the Trésorerie in Orsay.

The reason? When you buy the stamps, the treasurer detaches the stamp from the sheet and then has to write it down in the stamp book that so many stamps of that type were given on such and such a day at such and such a time to such and such a person. (There is no other record kept.)

No backsies.

So, what does one do with four 90 Euro stamps and one 8 euro stamp, totalling the original amount of 368 euros that the préfecture needed, but now has told you they need only 260 euros? Glad you asked!

You have to buy more stamps. 72 euros more in stamps, to be exact.

The nice thing is that the stamps never expire and are used by the préfecture all the time concerning carte de sejours and renewing them.

Since we will be in France for at least another year and a half, this is not a problem. It only is annoying that I had to pay for more stamps within a month period. The amounts can be expensive when they add up.

End tangent.

Leçon 4: When you go back to the préfecture to get the carte de sejour, smile at the person behind the Caisse and present everything that is needed. She didn't do your carte, she just hands them out and collects the stamps. 

And, voila! Carte in your possession.
*happy dance*

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