From the April 2018 Newsletter:

Bonjour v. Bonsoir

At what time of day should the greeting “bonjour” become “bonsoir”, and how can one know which option to choose at that difficult, late-afternoon hour? The definition of when the evening begins is subjective, especially between countries and cultures, when the concepts of “an early morning” or an “early dinner” can vary significantly. Does evening begin at the end of the afternoon, or only once the sun begins to set - with this latter depending, of course, on the time of year?

Despite such potential social minefields, the use of the word bonsoir instead of bonjour is acceptable at any point after which you believe the day to be “in decline”. In general, once most people begin to leave work - between around 17h-18h - the use of bonsoir is perfectly acceptable. Similarly, conversations at this time of day can begin with bonsoir, and end with its feminine equivalent, “bonne soirée”, which effectively closes off the discussion and stands in place of “goodbye”. However, a friendly bonjour - even if said after dark - will never be seen in a negative light.

Permanent residency cards

Protecting the post-Brexit rights of Britons in France who have acquired permanent EU residency and have obtained a card proving it must be priority, a top French Interior Ministry official has said. Speaking at the Assemblée Nationale in a discussion about Britons’ rights Agnès Fontana, who is responsible for foreigners’ acquisition of residence rights and French nationality, said: “Everything is far from fixed today as concerns the fate of British citizens in France. Even if December’s joint UK/EU report has given pointers, uncertainty remains the dominant note.

What seems agreed today, at least, is the retention of residency rights, and the right to study and work – all the rights that surround residency rights – of European citizens present in France whose status has already been acquired: that is to say, those who have lived for five years in France and therefore have a European Union permanent residency card under cover of which they live in France. These rights should be preserved, they should be acquired for life, as well as the rights of their spouses who have not come yet at the date of exit, or of children not yet born.

Britons with a ‘permanent’ card as EU citizens might have to obtain a different one after Brexit but it will be a simple exchange; those with no card but who can prove the same rights with paperwork will not be excluded but procedures will be more complicated. In the future Britons in France without such rights might find themselves in the same situation as a ‘third country citizen’, though bilateral agreements make it easier for citizens of certain countries to obtain long-term resident cards.

Britons’ requests for French nationality increased eight-fold between 2015 and 2017 and Britons are now the 12th largest group in requests, up from 34th. The government is trying to reduce civil servant numbers so it is unlikely there will be more staff to reduce processing times, however there are plans to improve overall efficiency and accessibility at prefectures, which should help.”

Local procedure

Go to Draguignan Sous-Préfecture between 8.30 and 11.30 on weekdays with your passport, go to the desk in the main building to the left to get a ticket number and wait your turn.

You will then be given the application form, a list of required documents, and a date to return – this could be a long time in the future due to the high demand.

You need to specify a “carte de séjour UE – séjour permanent” which lasts for 10 years. You need to have been a permanent resident in France for 5 years.

They ask for:

• 3 passport photos

• Passport and copy

• Bills showing your address in France in each half-year during the last 5 years (eg. water, electricity)

• If you own a property, the Attestation given by the Notaire on purchase. If you rent, your rental contract(s) over 5 years.

• Carte vitale and copy

• Work contract and last three pay slips, OR for retirees documents proving health cover (ie. S1 form or private cover), plus all documents confirming your pension income and tax returns showing you have declared a regular income. Self-employed people need registration documents.

HOWEVER, in practice, you will also be asked for your marriage certificate, and income tax returns for the last 5 years.

You need to ask at the Court building in Draguignan for a list of these.

Go back at the appointed time and show your appointment slip at the desk. If you are a couple, you will be processed separately so make sure each dossier is complete with all necessary copies. One person keeps the originals in case they are asked for. Your fingerprints will be taken. If there are any missing documents, you will be given a list and asked to send them by post.

At the end of all this you will receive your carte de séjour.