The Saga of the Titre de Sejour, French Paperwork in 4-parts. Part VI, Not ‘Fin’ Yet!

We have our 'Titre de Sejour', our permission to live in France.  We thought, mistakenly, that once that hurdle had been jumped the rest would be easy.  Well, there we go 'thinking' again!  How foolish.  (if you are curious and have not been following the Saga here are parts I, II, III, IV, V)  We still have two more items to get, both, we were assured, would should be easy.  One is the Carte Vitale – our medical insurance card.  We have dropped the inch-thick file into the French paperwork abyss and are awaiting the initial refusal.  The second is the 'Permis de Conduire', the French driving license. Here is that story:
First, let me explain that because we are American (and not EU) nothing is easy, everything is new and groundbreaking, and never, ever, ever been done before.  We are the precedent.  If you are a member of the EU and you move to another EU country you take your driving license to the local authorities and they give you one of theirs.  Simple.  Because we are American we can't do that.  In Andorra we accepted the inevitable and took the driving test.  (Another story to be told later…).  After we move to France we think: we have taken the tests in Andorra, we have valid Andorran licenses, Andorra is in Europe (though not the EU – thus the hitch). Therefore, this should be easy.  We called,  Yes, in fact, it is easy.  Come on down, fill out a bit of paperwork and we'll give you French licenses.  We did.  It was easy!  We immediately became worried.  Rightly so!  The denial came on Friday.  It seems that in order to do an 'exchange' it had to be done within a year of becoming residents.  We had not done it in a timely manner so we had to go to driving school, take all sorts of tests and pay a gazillion euros. Thank you!
But here's the thing: we applied within a year (3 months, actually) of being informed, (as in having actual knowledge of) that we were residents. We received our 'Titre' in March, 2006.  It was already expired.  We couldn't get our licenses before this because we didn't have the proper paperwork and, as far as we knew, were not entitled to because we were not legal residents.  We couldn't get them after because the paperwork was expired.  We filed for renewal of the expired 'Titre' which we received the last day of May.  Now, for the first time since we moved here over 2 years ago, we are legally resident, we know we are legally resident and we have the proper, completed paperwork to prove it.  Off we go to the bureaucrats to fill out the forms for the driving licenses…but, sorry, too late.  You should have done this last year, we are told. "But last year we weren't legal residents" we exclaim.  "Yes you were, it says so right here" they point out.  "But we didn't know" we cry.  "Well you should have" they answer.  "But you didn't tell us" we shriek.  "Oh, that's a different department"   Bam! Bam! with the big red Denied stamp, a smiling "bon journee" and we are dismissed.  It's like a Mobius strip; the never-ending story!  It makes my head hurt.  We have appealed….I'm going to go make pickles…

4 thoughts on “The Saga of the Titre de Sejour, French Paperwork in 4-parts. Part VI, Not ‘Fin’ Yet!”

  1. So what are you going to do now? I’m in the middle of studying for the written exam now, it’s such a pain.
    Why couldn’t MN be one of the states that has a license exchange agreement with France???

  2. I am going to drive very carefully!!! We are going to attempt to explain and hope they take pity on us. If they don’t?!?! Panic!

  3. I feel your pain! I’m currently CRAMMING for the code test. I wanted to present myself as a candidate libre (without taking driving lessons) but there is a 3 month wait for people not associated with a driving school. What a scandal! So, I need to sign up at a driving school just to get a place to take the code test, then also for the driving test because they require a car with dual controls.
    I agree. All US states licenses should be exchangeable with ALL EU countries.
    What is especially frustrating is the fact that US citizens in Europe are faced with so much more trouble and expense in securing a local license than European expats in the US (no matter what state).
    My state had an agreement with Germany, but not France. I said… but Germany and France recognize eachother’s licenses, so why isn’t France on the list?
    The governer’s office of my state said that it is just too hard and time consuming to get the agreements done, so they don’t bother.
    My plan for the code is to keep studying like crazy and to PRAY.
    For the driving test… it is to drive carefully and to play the pity card… then to CRY

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