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Why 99 is the magic number for French admin sites

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Why 99 is the magic number for French admin sites
Metz Swedish forward Photo by Jean-Christophe VERHAEGEN / AFP

Stuck in a loop on a French administrative website that won't let you submit your request? This simple hack might help.


As more administrative processes move online in France, it is becoming increasingly common to be faced with a dropdown menu that you must select before you can move on.

But what if none of the options apply to you? And the website won't let you go forward unless you select one?

For foreigners, this tends to happen when French admin websites ask for your place of birth - some give you the option to fill in yourself the town you were born in, while others insist that you select from one of the listed options.

French websites will usually ask for a commune name and then a département number.

Typically, the drop-down menu will be listed by département and all French départements also have a number - running from 01 (Ain) to 95 (95 Val d’Oise). French overseas territories are listed from 971 (Guadeloupe) to 976 (Mayotte).

But what if you weren't born in France? While some websites give you the option to fill in your own details others do not, or demand a département number - and will not accept a foreign postcode or ZIP code.

Thankfully there is a simple solution - 99.

In admin terms, département number 99 is anywhere that isn't France.


READ ALSO 7 handy shortcuts for French bureaucracy

What if I cannot put '99' in?

If you find yourself truly blocked and unable to use the '99' trick, you will likely need to contact the relevant administrative body for assistance. Usually this can be done via the contact form on the website, or by calling. 

You may also be able to request a paper form, which would allow for greater flexibility. 

READ ALSO What to do in case of problems with France's online admin


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