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Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?

Adult non-EU citizens living in France know - or, at least, should know - that they should carry their titre de séjour as proof of residence whenever they travel abroad. But what about children?

Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?
(Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP)

Under current rules, children of non-EU residents living in France – including post-Brexit Britons – are not required to have a titre de séjour of their own.

But what about when it comes to travelling outside France? How can they prove they are residents in France at border checks?

There is one documents parents of non-EU minors need to apply for called the Document de Circulation pour étranger Mineur (DCEM).

“A foreign minor residing in France is not obliged to hold a residence permit. However, to facilitate their travel outside France, they can obtain a circulation document for foreign minors (DCEM),” reads the French government website.

Plenty of reports suggest that even though non-EU minors are travelling with parents who can prove residency in France, it won’t spare them from being grilled at the border and having their passport stamped. But carrying a valid DCEM would spare all that/

If a non-EU child cannot show a DCEM with their passport, customs officials could stamp their passport on departure and arrival in France or the Schengen area.

This could – in theory – lead to more issues and questions by border police the next time they try to leave or enter France, especially if the two trips are more than 90 days apart, which could see the child classed as an ‘overstayer’.

As non-EU citizens British minors and their parents have also been advised to get the document, as one British father resident in France can attest.

The father who lives in south-west France, said he was told a DCEM was obligatory when he travelled to the UK with his teenage daughter in October for a brief visit.
 
 
“The visit was arranged in a hurry, because we’d just learned my father is terminally ill,” he said.
 
“We knew about the document, but had assurances from the prefecture that we could travel without it. But customs officials at the border handed me a note, with details about the DCEM, as we flew out, having checked my daughter’s passport for an earlier entry stamp, and said we really needed to have it,” he said.
 
“They also checked for a stamp on our return a few days later. When I said we would get a DCEM as soon as possible, we were allowed to continue, but my daughter’s passport was again stamped. We now have one for her, so future travel shouldn’t be a problem.”

READ ALSO What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in France?

Although a legal requirement border officials will, generally and gently, remind parents of the need for a DCEM.

How do I get a DCEM?

The child’s parent or legal guardian must apply for a DCEM in advance of any travel outside French borders. You can apply online HERE or at your departmental préfecture. 

Once received, this document lasts five years, or until the child in question reaches the age of 18, or until the parents’ right to reside in France ends before the end of either of the timescales.

You will need to supply a number of supporting documents, including:

  • Birth certificate of the applicant (parent or holder of parental authority);
  • Passport (or national identity card, consular identity card, etc.) of the applicant and the child;
  • Family record book or birth certificate showing the established filiation of the child;
  • Applicant’s valid residence permit (unless the applicant is European);
  • School or crèche certificate or any other document for young children that can prove habitual residence in France;
  • Proof of address in the name of the applicant if the minor resides with him, or in the name of the minor if he does not live with the applicant;
  • 2 photographs of the child;
  • Tax stamps (timbre fiscal) in the amount of 50 € to be given at the time of delivery of the DCEM; (However an important difference for Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement is that DCEM’s can be issued for their children free of charge. More info here – Print this document.)
  • Form cerfa n°11203 completed, dated and signed by the applicant (the form can be completed online).

Plus, documents proving your parental or legal guardianship over the minor

  • Marriage certificate, or divorce documents for parents who were married at the time the child was born;
  • Birth certificate of the child mentioning the recognition of the minor before the age of one.

As always, any documents not in French will need to be translated.

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STRIKES

French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Unions representing cabin crew on several airlines have threatened to take strike action over the Christmas holidays in a series of increasingly bitter pay disputes.

French airline staff threaten strikes over Christmas

Cabin crew for Air France have already outlined dates for possible strike days, while unions representing staff at Easyjet and Ryanair are threatening “massive disruption” unless their demands are met.

The SNPNC-FO union, which represents cabin crew working in France, is calling for pay increases for its members working for budget airline Easyjet, warning that if no agreement is reached there will be a “very high risk” of walk-outs over Christmas.

Strikes, prices and services – what you need to know about travel over Christmas 2022

No exact dates have been proposed yet, but the union says that the current pay offer does not cover the rising cost of living, adding “the management will be responsible for the disruptions suffered by our customers”.

Cabin crew at Air France have filed a provisional strike notice from December 22nd to January 2nd, although whether staff actually walk out depends on how the pay negotiations go.

“This notice should serve as a warning to our management,” explains a union leaflet. “If this warning is not heeded, only a strong mobilisation will be able to tip the balance.”

So far the only confirmed strike action is at Air Antilles and Air Guyane – which mostly run flights between France and the Caribbean and French Guyana. Their staff will be walking out between December 17th and December 22nd, unless there is a breakthrough in pay negotiations. 

Ryanair crew working in Belgium have also threatened strike action over Christmas, although so far their French colleagues have not revealed any strike plans. 

Things look better for rail and ferry travel, with no strikes currently planned – although anyone with a trip to the UK planned should be aware of strike days planned by British rail staff over the Christmas and New Year period.

French airport ground staff and air traffic controllers won themselves a pay rise after strike action over the summer holidays. 

You can find all the latest strike information for France on our strikes page HERE.

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