American Bureaucracy

With the birth of Littlest of Men we are dealing with (just a little of) American bureaucracy for the first time. Thanks to Shannon we heard about an off-site day the US embassy is doing in Bordeaux next week so we got an appointment that keeps us from having to go all the way up to Paris. So next Thursday we’ll be packing Littlest and lots of papers into the car to drive down to declare him to the US government, get him a passport, and get him a social security number.

One of the funny parts of this process is proving that I lived at least ten years in the US. My mom dug up a bunch of papers and brought them over when the visited, so I have old test scores, my high school diploma, taxes, out the wazoo to take to them.

The other funny part is that Littlest has to have his passport photo taken. I did some research on the internets to see what other people do and ended up lying him down on a white cloth (J has a white travel towel that’s very thin). I had a toy prepared to make him smile and look at the camera but smiling and looking at people are his primary activities these days after sleeping and eating, so it was actually really easy.

I used an app called Passport Booth that got the dimensions right, and I’ll print them off on our home printer. There were a number of apps on the Apple store for taking US passport-sized photos, so hopefully I’ll never have to pay 20€ again to have a professional do it!

I’m telling you he was a pro:


Little Man. He looks chubbier in the picture than in person. 

He might be a little too smiley in that one actually so I’ll be printing off all four sets that I took just in case.

Also, he’s still losing his hair. Nobody believes me but I think he’ll be one of those babies that loses his birth hair and has different hair grow in later.

This whole process is not free of course. There’s the passport to pay for and the declaration of birth abroad costs 100€ as well, and since it’s an off-site service, we can only pay by chèque de banque which costs 10€. All of that so that Littlest can one day pay American taxes!


9 thoughts on “American Bureaucracy

  1. Glad that you’re able to go to Bordeaux instead of Paris! I hope the appointment goes well!

    Also, I think even the Embassy now only accepts chèque de banque for certain services like passports. I can’t remember how much the mandat postal cost, but I think it was less than 10€!

    • The original day was booked up by the time I wrote to them but they added another one the day before. And they seem to have taken into account my request for an afternoon appointment too. This was my first time asking for a chèque de banque!

  2. Love those little photos! I guess it’s the only time in your life where you’re allowed to smile in a passport photo. So smart to find a passport photo app – it costs so much to get them done, in the U.S. as well, but I always paid because I was afraid I would get it wrong otherwise. Will have to remember this for next time!

    • The American rules are pretty lenient for babies actually—they don’t even have to look at the camera, but that wasn’t an issue here. For the French one he has to have a neutral expression and be looking at the camera which will take much, much longer I think. But I’m not doing that for a few more months.

      Also the app was great, I definitely recommend it. Takes the guesswork out of the whole two-inches tall and a certain amount of white space thing.

  3. That’s a cute picture! We paid for ours and the good thing about it was that the photographer guaranteed that they were “conforme”, so no waiting for ages at the mairie only to be told that they weren’t right, but that app sounds pretty good too. I might brave it next time we need photos!

    • Was it tricky for the photographer to get the picture? Our mairie is so small that there’s no waiting, so I might take the risk anyway. The app I used for the US passport only does US-sized pictures, but I found one that can do both US and European sizes, so I’ll give it a try… but not right away. That passport is less pressing.

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