Our third effort at renewing our Cartes de Séjour (residency permits) was exceptionally easy. We seem to understand the renewal process well now and are experienced with the requirements at the Bureau des étrangers (immigration office) at the Préfecture des Pyrénées–Orientales in Perpignan. It also help that we started preparing in January although the permits do not expire until the end of March.
The Préfecture des Pyrénées–Orientales is extremely responsive to e-mail. I was uncertain about which forms to download from the Préfecture’s website, but an e-mail was answered in 24 hours with links to the correct forms and a currently list of supporting documents. The list of documents was the same as last year. They were also kind enough to make an appointment for us to submit our renewal application. The Préfecture’s e-mail responsiveness saved us from making a physical trip to Perpignan to pick up forms and make an appointment saving us a great deal of time while we were in the process of changing residences.
The list of supporting documents for our renewal appointment is actually short and straight forward. Bring the original document and a copy of the following:
1. Current Carte de Séjour (residency permit) that is being renewed. Something that was different this time: during our appointment our Préfecture officer made an extra copy of both Carte de Séjours and added them to each other’s renewal application.
2. Passport with copies of pages with identification information, expiration dates, with all entry stamps, and visas.
3. Marriage certificate since our passports do not confirm marital status. This document was not specifically on our list from the Préfecture des Pyrénées–Orientales but from past experience we knew marriage status had to be confirmed at each renewal. There is also an attestation that we are married on the renewal form that our Préfecture officer witnessed us signing.
4. Birth certificate.
5. Proof of the location of residency with our lease, rent receipts from last year, and our power bill (A French Power Bill is the Ultimate Identity Document)
6. Four recent passport-style photographs. There are passport photo machines everywhere from retail stores to train stations. Photos are required with almost all government applications.
7. €106 payment for each of us submitted by timbres fiscaux (tax stamps.) The tax stamps are sold in specific Tabacs (tobacco and convenience stores). This was a bit more challenging since I couldn’t find a Tabac in Argelès-sur-Mer who sold them and in Perpignan I was also having difficulties. We were finally sent to the Trésor Public (Public Treasurer) at the Centre Des Finances Publiques à Perpignan where there was a helpful gentleman at a cashier window who was happy to sell us the timbres fiscaux.
8. Proof of financial independence equivalent to 12 times the monthly French minimum wage. I had previously requested an income verification letter about our pensions from the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System. We also prepared a translation including a conversion of dollars to euros at the current exchange rate. That was the only document we bothered to translate. We submitted a confirmation letter from our French bank that stated that we were customers in good standing too.
9. Sworn handwritten attestation not to exercise any occupation in France. There is also an attestation on the renewal form that our Préfecture officer witnessed us sign. Our visa status is specifically for retirees and prohibits us from working in France.
10. Self-addressed, stamped envelopes which are available from any supermarket or post office.
Tracy (A.K.A. the “Queen of Organization”) took my collection of paperwork, rearranged and organized our documents exactly in the order of the checklist, and made certain the required spaces on the renewal form were filled in.
On our appointment date of March 15, (yes, the ominous ‘Ides of March’) we took the €1 Bus the 23 kilometers (14.5 miles) from Argelès-sur-Mer to Perpignan.
Our appointment was at 9:15. so we took the early bus and arrived in Perpignan with time to enjoy a café crème and a pain au chocolat before walking to Préfecture’s annex in the Hôtel D’Ortaffa located behind the actual Préfecture. We arrived as the office opened at 9:00 and waited as a police officer from the Police Nationale hand-checked the bags of visitors as they entered.
There was a short line at the check-in window, but before we could reach the window, a young customer service representative in a red vest looked at our appointment e-mail and walked us into the immigration office. We waited a couple of minutes and were called to a window for our appointment at exactly at 9:15.
Our very helpful and friendly immigration officer was extremely impressed with Tracy’s organization and deemed it “Parfait!” (Perfect!) The only issue was with the electronic fingerprint scanner which had difficulties reading my dry hands and it took several attempts to get readable prints. Tracy had no such problems.
This renewal was much simpler than last years since we were not changing regions and we had a regular lease and power bill.
Our final step was to sign and accept our Récépissés de Demande de Titre de Séjour (receipt of application for residency permits) that serve as temporary Cartes de Sejours. Our immigration officer advised us that we will be sent notification letters that will let us know that we can return with our timbres fiscaux (tax stamps), passports, and Récépissés de Demande de Titre de Séjour to collect our new Cartes de Sejours for 2016-2017.
And Tracy received official recognition that she is, “Parfait!” But I already knew that. We were “in-and-out” of the Préfecture in 45 minutes total after processing both our renewals. I know there is a stereotype of cumbersome French bureaucracy, but (“knock on wood”) we have had minimal challenges and all the representatives have been very patient and helpful.
Now we just have to wait for our notice in the mail to arrive and our return trip to Perpignan..
Related posts: First Renewal of Our Residency Permit (Titre de Séjour, Cartes de Séjour Arrived To Help Celebrate Our First Year In France, Second Renewal of Our Residency Permits (Cartes de Séjour) Part 1, and Second Renewal of Our Residency Permits (Cartes de Séjour) Part 2