Welcome to French Bureaucracy, Little Boy

Back in January we went down to an off-site embassy day in Bordeaux and successfully applied for Littlest’s American passport, despite not having exactly the documents they wanted. We were able to e-mail them directly to the embassy that night.

The day before I had also applied for his French ID card, which went even more smoothly.

We did all this with pictures taken at home using smartphone apps, and printed off on photo quality paper at our home printer.

Today J finally ran into a classic hiccup of French bureaucracy: the guichet blocker.

All in all it was a super fun experience for him. He packed up Littlest at 10, drove into down, parked at the parking garage, and ran into two elevators that were out of service. So first he wasted a few minutes crossing the parking garage with the stroller to find the one working elevator.

Then he got to their appointment and learned that the CERFA forms we had printed off and filled in online were of no use, because Poitiers doesn’t use that technology yet (what’s that about nationalized administration in France?). So he got to fill out the form again.

Once he’d finished filling out the form, the woman looked at the picture of Littlest and said it wouldn’t work because it was “digital” and we had taken it ourselves.

No amount of explaining would convince the woman that it would be accepted by the passport software (most notably because it had worked for the ID software two months before). She even asked her coworker who definitely gave the impression he would have been fine with it.

She told J he had to go to a professional photographer or a photo booth (LOL our baby can’t sit up) and if he could do that within his 30-minute appointment slot, she would accept it today.

Except of course she had already used up 10 minutes of his appointment making him fill out the form again, he was pushing a baby around in a stroller in a building that’s barely accessible on wheels, and oh yes, most business are closed on Monday mornings.

I’m not sure what world this woman lives in but I qualified her as a moron when J told me the whole story.

So we get to make another passport appointment, find a photographer, take a picture and pay for it, and drag Littlest back to the centre ville to do it all over again.

Which is really fine. It’s just the principle of the thing—how can someone with so little connection to reality get a job that requires a minimum of lucidity? I mean did she really think that professional photographers go to the trouble of “developing” ID photos?

Welcome to French red tape, baby boy.


6 thoughts on “Welcome to French Bureaucracy, Little Boy

  1. L says:

    It’s a bit risky, but you could just try again without paying for photos, especially if you can use a different office (no risk of running into same person) or if you you’ve received the passport in the meantime to show as proof. I would put money on a different person accepting the photo if you tried again.

    • Yeah, I did thinking briefly about that. But chances are just too high that we’d get the same woman, or someone else similar enough. I’d rather we just get the pictures taken. She did explain that all photographers are required to do ID photos.

  2. We went to a professional photographer for my daughter, when she was 6 months for her passport. I don’t remember exactly how much it was, less than 15 euros. I didn’t want to take a chance with French bureaucracy. I also had to provide pics for Canadian embassy.

  3. Oh joy. More French admin things to look forward to! And we ALWAYS end up with problems.

    Already having issues with the CAF. We never qualify for anything and didn’t even know we still had an account with them. Found out we did once the declaration de grossesse was done though it was still in the Nord. It was well marked in our account that we were expecting (and it was literally the only thing in our account), and we even got mail from them. Changed our address, dossier was transferred. What’s no longer in our dossier? The fact that we’re expecting. Confirmed in a call to them. No record of it. Oh what fun.

    • Ugh, I can’t believe the CAF screwed that up! They changed my last name on me without asking, but they actually fixed it pretty quickly when I complained.

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