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Registration and Residency

France - Registration and Residency


Most people that spend more than a few months each year living and working in France need to have a ‘titre de séjour’, which gives them the right to stay in the country. These cards need to be renewed every few years but they do not cost anything to apply for.

This requirement is no longer in place for EU citizens as this was changed in 2003. EU residents only need to be in possession of a current passport from their home country, but it can be a useful piece of documentation to have as it can speed up a number of administrative processes so it is advisable to apply for one anyway. However, even if you do not need to apply for the titre de séjour after a stay of three months you must still register with your local town hall as a resident. This is a different procedure than applying for a residency permit though you will need to provide proof of identification and address. Failing to register with the local authorities can lead to penalties such as fines.

These regulations also apply to all family members, even dependent children, who must be registered with the town hall as resident in the area.

If you are not a member of an EU state you will need to ensure that you have the right visa for your stay in the country otherwise applying for the titre de séjour can take even longer.

In order to apply for the titre de séjour you will need to obtain and complete the application from and provide a photocopy of the main pages of your passport. You will need three passport sized photographs and a proof of your address in France. This can mean a utility bill or a copy of your tenancy agreement if it has been obtained within the last three months.

You will also need to provide a declaration d’engagement which has been completed by your employer and proves that you are working. If you are working for a company that pays your salary in your home country then you will also need to provide a copy of your health insurance (assurance de maladie). If you have already begun work with your employer then you may also be asked to provide copies of payslips. If you are self employed you may have to proof of your self employed status, which could mean copies of accounts, references from an accountant or copies of memberships to trade organisations. If you are retired, you will need to provide proof that you are able to support yourself financially.

Additional documentation required includes a copy of your birth certificate, translated into French. It is worth enquiring at the French embassy in your country of origin as this is a service that they may be able to provide. Any document not already in French should be translated prior to the application in order to save time.

If you are living in the country with a spouse or partner then they will also need to apply for the titre de séjour. As well as the documentation provided for individual identity you will also need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate (acte de mariage) that has been translated into French by an official translator. Originals and photocopies must be presented together and husbands and wives will find that their applications are not processed together, but that they are treated as individuals.

Applying for the residency status means that you will also need to undergo a medical examination with the International Migration Office.

There are four types of residency card for non-EU citizens. These are the temporary residence card which is only valid for one year, the permit based on skills and talents, which is valid for three years, the residence permit which is valid for ten years and the retired persons’ residence permit which is also valid for ten years. All of these cards can be renewed and the application for renewal is very similar to the application for the card, in that similar documents are required and the process for renewal.

The whole process of applying for the residency card can take between 8 and 12 weeks, but this will depend on the area that you are living in and the time of year. In order to apply you can do so in person at the local police station (prefecture de Police) although if you do not have a police station near to you it is possible to apply at your local town hall (mairie). You will need to make sure that you have the right type of visa before you make your application. Only a long stay visa is sufficient for the residency application. A short stay visa will not give you enough time in the country.

When you make the application for the titre de séjour you will be given a receipt and this will act as a temporary permit until you are sent the complete document.

Foreign students who are staying in France – and who will be there for less than five years – can apply for the student version of the residency permit. This card is valid for just one year and can be renewed when it expires. The application can be made either at the police station or the town hall and as well as identification and proof of financial support, the student should also have proof that they are enrolled at university or college. This card is optional if the student is an EU resident.

An EU resident has the right to become a permanent resident of France after five years. This is known as ‘séjour permanent’. This can be applied for if the individual already has a titre de séjour and there is no requirement to provide proof of income or work status. There may be a need to prove that the individual has spent a continuous period of five years in the country, although short visits to other countries as well as periods spent working in other countries will not affect the application, although an absence of two years will lead to the loss of permanent residency status.


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