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VISAS

What to do if you lose your French carte de séjour

If you're a foreigner living in France, you may need a carte de séjour to prove your right of residency - but what happens if this precious document is lost or stolen?

A woman meets with a French immigration official in the hope of obtaining a carte de séjour.
Applying to replace a lost carte de séjour in France can be a frustrating process. (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

If you’re a non-EU citizen and you’re living in France you will almost certainly need to get a carte de séjour residency permit, and keep it up to date to prove your right of residency.

If your card is lost, or you fall victim to pickpockets, you will need to replace it, but this can be a complicated process.

Online

In theory, the process of demanding a duplicata or replacement of your carte de séjour is quite simple and can be done online, via this page. It doesn’t always work, however (see below).

There is €225 fee, or €75 fee if you are a student or applied for your card as part of a family.   

You will need to submit the following documents electronically: 

  • A self-written document, declaring that you have lost the carte de séjour (you can find an example here – but obviously, remove the letterhead;
  • A copy of your original carte de séjour (if you have one – it’s recommended that everyone photograph the front and back of their card when they get it, just in case);
  • A copy of your passport (including pages with ID information and and entry stamps);
  • A copy of your birth certificate (the French are obsessed with birth certificates); 
  • If your right of residency comes through marriage or family, a copy of your partner/family member’s carte de séjour or ID card, as well as your marriage certificate; 
  • Proof of address;
  • Three ID photos; 
  • Proof of payment of the fee. 

If you have the necessary documentation, this process should take a matter of weeks. 

If you lose your carte de séjour overseas 

Things become a little more difficult if you lose your carte de séjour overseas. 

You must first declare the loss to local police authorities and then to your closest French embassy or consulate (who will want to see proof that you have declared your loss to the police as well as a déclaration sur l’honneur).

Be sure to have official written evidence of both declarations, signed or stamped by the authorities – you may be asked to provide it as evidence when asking for a replacement. 

In order to return on France, you may need to ask for a visa de retour from the embassy or consulate concerned. Before giving you this visa, they will need to verify that you once obtained a carte de séjour from whichever préfecture you applied to. A harrowing advisory is written on service-public.fr: “This investigation can be lengthy.”

Upon your return to France, you must apply for a duplicata via this website

You will need all the same documents as if you had lost your carte de séjour in France. 

Complications 

The online process is fairly new and it seems that it doesn’t work for everyone, with several Local readers who got the post-Brexit carte de séjour for UK nationals reporting that their card number is not recognised. 

In order to create the online account necessary to demand a duplicata, you must enter your visa or titre de séjour number (also known as a numéro AGDREF). This is a 13-digit number which on a standard carte de séjour is either along the top or the side, as below.

On the post-Brexit carte de séjour it is listed as the Numéro personnel and is just above the signature on the card.

Unfortunately, the online portal often bugs and displays a message indicating that your number is not recognised. 

If this happens, you need to book an appointment at the préfecture which issued your card in the first place. If the system doesn’t recognise your card number then it may not be possible to use the préfecture’s online booking system.

READ ALSO Visas and residency permits: How to move to France (and stay here)

Préfecture appointment

If you’re unable to use the online booking system you will have to either email, call or show up at the préfecture and explain the situation in as much detail as possible. It may be worth taking screenshots showing that the online system rejected your card number.

Different préfectures have different systems but in Paris, where carte de séjour applications are dealt with by the Préfecture du Police, the online form to send such a mail, can be found here or email [email protected] 

Préfectures will then send you either an appointment, or a letter inviting you to visit when convenient. Some have their own list of required documents which can be different to the ones demanded by the online portal, so take careful note of what they are asking you for.

In Paris, the préfecture ask for:

  • A valid passport;
  • ID photos;
  • A declaration of the loss of my carte de séjour, obtained from the police (in Paris, you must go to the commissariat de 13eme);
  • Proof of address; 
  • A copy of the lost carte de séjour (if possible). 

Most préfectures will process your request and then send out the card in the post within four weeks. 

Under the Withdrawal Agreement, the post-Brexit carte de séjour was free, and it seems that UK nationals who have lost their cards are not being asked to pay a fee for a replacement, although this may vary.

Member comments

  1. Incredibly helpful… I just need to change my address on my CdS, but the online website doesn’t recognize my information. Good to know this was a common bug. I’ve been doesn’t going back and forth with the online help contact, and getting nowhere. Unfortunately, my local prefecture (Grenoble) doesn’t have an easy way to make an online appointment for this. And they don’t like you to show up with no appointment.

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RESIDENCY PERMITS

What you should do if you need to give up French residency

If you're leaving France for good, or for a long period, then you need to make sure that all your paperwork is up to date before you leave and that might mean officially giving up French residency. Here's how to do it.

What you should do if you need to give up French residency

People move to France for numerous personal and professional reasons – and there are as many valid grounds as to why many decide to leave the country. 

Anyone who does leave France permanently will have a number of administrative jobs to do. Most of them are similar to moving house within the country – dealing with final utility bills, for example, and informing the necessary authorities that you’re changing address. 

Others are more final, but doing them will ensure, for example, that you are no longer taxed in France.

Residency permit

If you have a ‘permanent’ residency permit to stay in France, you can leave France and live elsewhere for up to two years without losing your residency rights. Although for Britons covered by the Brexit withdrawal agreement they are allowed to leave France for up to five years without running the risk of losing their residency permit.

If you return to France after that period then you run the risk of losing your residency permit and will be forced to go through the appropriate process again.

But, if you do not plan to return within that period, you need to notify the authorities, as you would if you move house within France. Click here for information about process (in French).

Handily, you complete the process online. Once you are ready to start the process, you need to log on to a recently created Interior Ministry website dedicated to foreign nationals living in France. Once you have created an account – by inputting the ‘Personal Number’ on your carte, as well as its issue and expiry dates (the issue date is on the back, expiry date on the front), and logging into the site – you can declare your change of address.

Do this after you have moved, as you will need proof of address, in the form of a utility bill or similar. Acceptable forms of proof are detailed on the site as you go through the process.

Anyone moving within France should demand a new titre de séjour by clicking Oui to the Mise à jour de mon titre de séjour prompt. But those moving outside France should tick ‘no’ at this point. 

Be aware, this is far from the only thing you need to do.

Tax office

To ensure you are no longer subject to taxes in France, you must inform your tax office that you are moving and give them your new address.

Remember, income taxes in France are paid the following year, so don’t be surprised to receive tax forms to complete at your new, post-French address – they will need to be returned and any outstanding taxes will have to be paid.

This is especially important to contact them if you continue to earn some form of French income, such as a salary or pension, which may still be taxable in France.

If you don’t do this, and you leave without arranging to pay all owed taxes, you could find that you run into problems if you try to re-enter the country.

All the information you need is here, on the impots.gouv.fr website.

Social Security

If you are registered with the French healthcare system and have a carte vitale, you need to tell Assurance Maladie that you are leaving France. What you need to know is here, and the declaration you to complete is here (pdf)

If you get child or housing benefit in France, you have to contact CAF and tell them when you are leaving the country.

Driving licence

Holders of French driving licences should be aware that they may have to exchange their licence for one issued in their new country of residence after a certain period. You’ll have to start this process after you move.

Don’t forget…

You will also need to inform energy and water suppliers, and your bank, in France, otherwise you may continue to rack up charges after you leave the country – which, again, could lead to problems if you try to return to the country later.

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