french residency For Members

What to do in case of problems with France's online immigration services

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
What to do in case of problems with France's online immigration services
What can you do when the computer says no? Photo by MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP

Administration processes in France are rapidly moving online, especially those that concern immigration. For many people this is a welcome development but problems can arise if the system fails or for people not comfortable with using online platforms - immigration lawyer Paul Nicolaÿ explains your rights and recourse.


The quick digitization of immigration procedures has not come without concerns about the accessibility and effectiveness of the platform set up by the French government, especially considering that, initially, there was no alternative for those who had difficulty using it.

Since then, the government was compelled to soften its position, and had to implement measures to assist users in need, and, if necessary, offer them another option.

Created in 2020, the ANEF platform (Administration Numérique des Etrangers en France) is now well-known to most foreign French residents for being the central website for almost all administrative paperwork related to immigration: not only applications for residence permits but also changes of address, declarations of loss of a residence card, applications for French naturalisation, etc.


Many users that were initially delighted to avoid the tremendous problems induced by the former system (giant queues in front of préfectures, extensive delays, cold reception by préfectures staff etc.) but soon they began to complain about the new platform's many bugs, its lack of flexibility, and the absence of any alternative.

This is obviously an issue for those who lack a computer, internet access, or who are simply not familiar enough with the IT tool.

READ ALSO 7 handy shortcuts for French administration

Since 2021, préfectures are supposed to receive and assist any foreign user who cannot use the ANEF platform, for whatever reason. 

But only on June 3rd, 2022, did the Conseil d'Etat (French highest administrative Court) render a judgement forcing the government to implement an "alternative option" to ANEF, in case the latter proves inaccessible, even with the aforementioned assistance.

Finally, on August 1st, 2023, a government decree drew a detailed step-by-step process that must be followed by users in need of help. 

1 Send a message or call the Centre de contact citoyens (CCC)

The centre de contact citoyens (CCC) is, to sum things up, the "customer service" of the ANEF platform. It is attached to the agence nationale des titres sécurisés (ANTS) which is the agency in charge of running the ANEF from a technical standpoint.

They have no competence whatsoever in the field of immigration and nationality law and they cannot submit any application for you. However, they can provide some assistance and information in order to solve basic IT issues that are only related to the functioning of the ANEF.

You can reach them via the free phone number 0 806 001 620, or you can send them a written message through the platform itself by clicking on "contact us".

Very often the assistance of the CCC proves insufficient. In such a case, the foreign user can seek a second type of help.

READ ALSO 8 French admin services that are available online

2 Schedule an appointment at the Point d'accueil numérique (PAN)

All préfectures are now supposed to host a point d'accueil numérique (PAN), ie a physical reception centre dedicated to foreign users. However, each préfecture can decide how they will be able to access it.


For example, in Paris, you can seek assistance at the two points d'accueil numérique (one located Rue Truffaut and the other Place Louis Lépine) by requesting an appointment by mail, by phone (34 30), or on the prefecture's website.

This way, users can be given basic information on how to use the ANEF platform and, if necessary, be advised on the preparation of their digital file. However, the PAN is only an adviser and does not consist in a way to bypass the digital platform.

3 Schedule an appointment at the préfecture

If, after having requested the support of the CCC and the PAN, the user concerned still cannot achieve the submission of their application, then (and then only) the préfecture has to receive their file by another mean than ANEF.

Nonetheless, the impossibility for the user to submit their file through ANEF must be recognised by the préfecture itself. Moreover, the aforementioned government decree does not give much detail on what form these decisions will take, nor on any kind of timeline.


By exception, this impossibility can also be confirmed by a decision of the CCC, but under unknown conditions.

Once that confirmation is obtained, the user must appear physically by appointment to the préfecture's offices for the submission of their application, in conditions that will be similar to the former procedure, involving the issuance of a temporary récépissé.

Considering how restrictive is the possibility offered to foreign applicants to avoid the ANEF platform, we clearly understand that the government did not intend to make of the latter an option among others, but rather the predominant intermediary between préfectures and the foreign public.

However, even if the aforementioned alternative is of limited access, it could prove necessary for a lot of people.

We still need to wait and see how it is implemented and if it really works.

Paul Nicolaÿ is a French lawyer based near Paris and specialising in French immigration and nationality law - find his website here.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also