I arrived in Bordeaux on September 28, 2016, with a year-long renewable visa.
After living in France for several months, I went through the OFII process where my visa was officially validated and I was given my tître de séjour. I was told that two months prior to the expiration of my visa, I could send in the required documents to the préfecture to ask for a renewal.
OFII advised me to wait until the very last possible day (July 28) to hand in my required documents, as this would increase the validity of my future tître de séjour by a couple of months.
So, I followed OFII’s advice and waited until the very last day to turn in my documents. You can either mail in your documents, or drop them off at the préfecture directly. Because I wanted to wait until the last possible second but still ensure everything was submitted on time, I turned in my documents directly to the préfecture.
OFII nor the préfecture ever sent me a notification to send in these documents or what was required of me, so if you’re in the same boat, you’re going to have to research this on your own and be very mindful of your due dates!
I found all of the necessary information on the préfecture’s website.
Here is what was required of me: (make sure to send copies of all of these and keep the originals for yourself, you will later have to bring in a copy of everything you have sent to the préfecture to your follow-up appointment, so keep track of everything)
- Justificatif d’état civil et de nationalité
- Passport identity page
- Birth certificate
- if you are married, a copy of your spouse’s identity card
- Justificatif de domicile datant de moins de 3 mois
- This can be an electricity bill, gas bill, telephone bill, internet bill, quittance de loyer, etc
- 3 identity photos (format 35 mm x 45 mm – norme ISO/IEC 19794 – 5 : 2005) (pas de copie)
- Proof of payment for your OFII stamp
- Medical certificate you received from OFII
- Justificatif de mariage (a copy of your French l’acte de mariage certificate, even if you got married abroad, you will need a transcription of your marriage that has been registered with the French government)
- A déclaration that you and your spouse are not living in a polygamous relationship
- Nationalité française du conjoint (copy of your spouse’s identity card)
- Communauté de vie: a declaration signed by both you AND your spouse that you live in “vie commune” and documents proving this (such as a housing contract, EDF bill, RIB, etc.)
In addition to all of your documents, you must send a prepaid envelope which you can find at any post office. This envelope will later be used to send your récepisse and notify you of your follow-up appointment. If you do not send this envelope, your request for renewal will be considered invalid and the préfecture will not send you anything back.
I scrambled everything together the very last day, which I do not recommend–I was a stress ball. Nonetheless, all of my documents fit nicely in a large brown envelope, which you can buy at any tabac.
I then brought my envelope to the prefecture where there was a large glass box specifically designated for my type of request. After clearly writing my name and address on the envelope, I slipped it in the box and went on my way back home.
A few weeks later, I received my récépissé in the prepaid envelope I had given to the préfecture in addition to a convocation for an appointment the following month.
The récépissé was a piece of paper with my identity photo on it and a stamp from the préfecture. It had basically all the same information as a TDS but stated it was valid from 29/09/2017 (one day after the expiration of my original TDS) to 28/03/2018. For the time being, the récépissé would serve as my TDS.
The convocation had my appointment time as well as which window I would report to at the préfecture, plus a list of documents that I needed to bring: (It also stated that my husband needed to be at the appointment with me.)
- The convocation
- Most recent titre de séjour (for me this was my visa sticker inside my passport) and récépissé
- A civil state document (passport or national identity card or birth certificate)
- All of the documents you sent by mail requesting the appointment (this is why it’s so important to make copies of everything you sent to the préfecture and set them aside!)
- A “justificatif de domicile” less than three months old (EDF bill, internet bill, quittance de loyer, etc)
- Two documents in your name and your spouse’s name or documents in each name with the same address (this can be bills, a joint bank account, assurance maladie, etc.)
- “avis d’imposition 2017 sur vos revenus 2016” (I’ll come back to this one)
- Finally, the attestation from OFII that you have followed the “contrat d’accueil et d’intégration” and that you followed the required formations
I had everything except the “avis d’imposition” which was a document about our declared taxes. JP and I went to cité administrative to get this and thank goodness he was there because I was so lost through this process. Eventually, after talking to a few people and getting our login information from the office, he was able to get a copy of this document.
The appointment day came and everything went smoothly. There was barely any wait time and the préfecture, though crowded, was organized in the morning.
To my surprise, I was told I would be receiving 2-year carte de séjour! I thought I would just be getting a CDS valid for one year and have to do this whole process all over again the following year, but no! The person helping us said I would receive a letter in the mail when my tître de séjour was ready for pick up.
Four weeks later, I received a convocation letting me know that my CDS was ready and I could pick it up during a specific time window from Monday-Friday. There was also a notice that I would need to have €269 worth of “timbres fiscaux” to obtain my CDS.
I should have expected these fees but as nothing had been mentioned beforehand, I didn’t think about it. (My OFII fees the previous year were €250 and I foolishly thought this meant I was covered).
Because my récépissé was valid through March, I waited to purchase the timbres fiscaux (which you can find at most tabacs) for several months. My récépissé worked fine and I traveled to both Denmark and the U.S. and back to France with it without running into any issues.
Finally, in late January I purchased the timbres fiscaux and was ready to pick up my CDS.
I brought JP with me to my appointment which wasn’t necessary per the convocation’s requirements but I’m so glad he was there because the prefecture was a mess compared to the last time we had been.
Everyone who has to pick up a tître de séjour/carte de séjour is given the same time frame and no specific appointment. This led to a huge unorganized blob of a line with aggressive and impatient people. People were trying to cut in line, push, etc.
We waited in line for about an hour and fifteen minutes before finally reaching a window with an employee.
Once there, I turned in my timbres fiscaux and récépissé and received my CDS in less than two minutes.
And finally, we left the préfecture!
I am now valid in France for the next two years (okay, technically October 2019 but I’m rounding up) and have a pretty little government issued card to prove it!
It’s a big relief this is all taken care of…at least of the next year and a half or so.
What about all of you? How has getting your official documents been?
Let me know in the comments below!