***Please note that practices have changed since Covid-19. You may be able to get an electronic récépissé. Check with your local prefectures.***
One of the things that keeps me really up-to-date in my immigration journey is the monthly newsletter of Jean Taquet. If you don’t already get it, and you are planning to emigrate here, you’re doing it wrong. In fact, if you haven’t subscribed to his newsletter, stop reading this article, click here, and subscribe (it’s on the right-hand side). Then come back and finish this. I’ll wait.
So one of the things that I got from Jean’s newsletter was that appointment times were going from their normal 2-3 month lead time to something like 5-6 months. Sure enough, as I applied for the renewal of my visa which would expire on the 20th of April, the first date listed in the system was the 27th of June! Keep in mind the date that I made this appointment was the 12th of January. So the soonest I got an appointment was a little over 5 months from the date of request.
What that meant was I needed “legal coverage” from the date of the expiration of my visa (the 20th of April) until the date of my appointment (the 27th of June). Otherwise I would be showing up to my appointment with an expired visa, which wouldn’t qualify me for a renewal, but would rather mean I would get to start the whole process all over again. It also would mean I could be stopped and given a very hard time when coming in and out of Schengen during that time if I were asked for my CDS.
So, for those of us on the right bank, we have to head to the police station in the 17th, which specifically deals with issuing récépissés, among other things. The address is 19-21 Rue Truffaut.
I just now returned from receiving the récépissé, and I blame myself for the two hours I waited from 14h00-16h00. The reason being that my visa expires sometime next week, when I’ll be in Malta, where I obviously can’t get a récépissé, so I had to go today, which was the first day I had free to head over to the 17th to wait in line. However, this next Monday is a public holiday, so that meant the line was extra special this Friday.
As you face the police station, you’ll want to go around to the left-hand side, where the entrance is for récépissés. Most of the people seemed to know that the line would be bad and were pretty quiet about the wait, but even I was not prepared for the fact that the line effectively did not move for 90 minutes. Then, bizarrely, at 15h30, they took almost all of us who were in line (about 30) and assigned us numbers. Fifteen minutes after that, my number was called and I headed up to Guichet #8, where a nice gentleman speaking Russian-accented French helped me.
The problem was, as I mounted the stairs, I realized something dreadful. I had forgotten my passport. I had even laid it on my desk intentionally to bring with me, but I had that moment of realization even as I began to reach for my bag to search frantically that I had, indeed, forgotten it.
Cool. Calm. Collected.
I said these words to myself and kept walking up the stairs.
The gentleman greeted me and I returned the greeting. The rest of the conversation proceeded in French:
“I would like to obtain a récépissé for my visa appointment, please.”
I slid over my convocation, which showed the date of my appointment, as well as my Carte de Sejour. He looked at both and started typing. A minute later:
“Your passport, please.”
Cool as a cucumber, I reach in to grab my passport card. I had obtained that passport card last year during the process of getting a new passport early. The passport card is a handy driver’s license size card that can fit in your wallet which is valid for travel to Canada, Mexico, and many of the Caribbean Islands. I figured, just pretend like I planned it this way.
The gentleman squinted at my card.
“They are making American passports like this now?”
“No, sir, this is just a passport card,” and I said it like everyone knows what a passport card is.
He continued typing, but at a certain point he came to a place where it asked for the number of the passport and the number on my passport card does not correspond to that number. He got up.
I knew he was going to see his supervisor.
While waiting, I opened up a browser in my smartphone and went into my online cloud vault in which I keep images of all my important documents and found a digital scan of my passport and had it ready to show the gentleman when he inevitably would come back with a frowning supervisor.
They were back in two minutes.
“What is the purpose of this card, sir?” she asked kindly.
“Ah, it’s for travel in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.” I said it just like a helpful librarian would.
“Yes, but your regular passport.”
“I’m so very sorry, I seem to have forgotten it,” tapping on my bag for effect.
She paused one moment, then said, “We can make a single exception this time, but if you go to your appointment like that, you’ll get kicked out!”
I smiled, nodded vigorously, made all the necessary groveling noises to indicate gratitude for this kindness, while asking myself how I could have been so silly to forget my passport. This must be my seventh or eighth time in a French immigration office.
The Russian-accented gentleman made a few more key taps under the watchful eye of the supervisor, who then departed, smiling at me.
“A photo, please,” he asked, betraying none of the fatigue that a full day of this, nonstop, must beset those in his line of work.
I handed him one of those terribly serious unsmiling photos we take for all our official documents in France.
Tap, tap, tap.
Heavy old printer starts printing. I walk out the door at just after 16h00.
So, three lessons today.
One, subscribe to Jean’s newsletter. It’s fascinating and bailed me out of having had a very, very delayed renewal.
Two, do not be insouciant about any gap between the expiration of your visa and your date of renewal.
Three, please don’t forget your passport.
Oh, and bring a book. I finished a short one while waiting in line, in the lovely sunshine.
The photo is by Ashley Batz, via CC-Attribution.
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Wow! This post of yours comes at a very strange time… and now I am in complete panic mode. Until now, I thought one receives a recipisse at the time of one’s meeting with the prefecture. This my first time renewing my VLS-TS for a CDS. My appointment with the prefecture is next week, although I requested it before my visa expired. My visa is expired but I left before the expiration date and I am within my three-month visa-free stay now. I don’t have a recipisse and I fear that it’s too late to get one. Will this a problem with my file at the prefecture? Would really appreciate your input as I’m completely panicked now on what to do. Thank you!
Let me try to clear up some of the confusion.
A recipisse is a stand-in for a CDS. In your first year you receive neither a recipisse nor a CDS, but your original visa sticker, plus the additional sticker you get from OFII, is your visa.
I think the problem is your idea that you can flit back and forth between visa statuses, as in, you can be in LTS, and then when that expires, flip over to the tourist visa, and then flip back to LTS. That’s not how it works. When your passport expires, you are ineligible to get it renewed. You simply have to get a new passport. Similarly, when your visa expires, and you do not get an extension (via a recipisse) until your appointment date, your visa is expired. Now, they may be lenient about this at the prefecture, but I’ve never done something like that, would never risk something like that, and have no idea how it can be remedied. I would refer to Jean Taquet, who I spoke about in this article, to help you with this situation.
You may recall that you referred me to Jean previously and we, in fact, corresponded. I didn’t go to his website them, but I just subscribed to it now. Wow! A font of knowledge and experience! Thanks for the lead.
My pleasure Craig. You can read Jean’s archives for weeks!
Super helpful post, thank you! I just returned from the police station and it was dead — maybe a lucky byproduct of it being August in Paris? I got in quickly and nabbed a recipisse, it all took place as you described. Now for my question: my appointment for renewal isn’t until December 29! I was hoping to go back to the U.S. for the holidays, but that appointment date is killing my plans. Do I have any options for getting in sooner? Could I go to the office and camp out and see what happens, or is that crazy talk?
You can request a later renewal date and then get a new recipisse to match that date.
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Quick question. I need to get a recipisse because I am in the same boat as you describe above. What do I else would I need to take (in addition to the passport) to this 19-21 Rue Truffaut address?
Your prefecture appointment sheet.
I was just in a panic about the exact same issue and then found your article and was relieved and grateful for the information! So, I just wanted to say a big thank you!!! 🙂
I have a bit of a unique situation. I would love some advice asap !! I had a student visa, and during that, I was living in Paris. Now that my studies are over, I’ve moved to Enghien-Les-Bains (just 15 minutes north from gare du nord) – and I’m trying to take an APS. I’ve faced a few issues, one being that my recipisse is expiring in 4 days on the 31st. The second is that, now that I’m living in Enghien, and my visa is from Paris, there’s issues with what prefecture I have to go to in order to complete the process.
Now, again, my recipisse expires in 4 days and I have a rdv at the prefecture in Sarcelles (95) not Paris on the 4th of february. BUT my recipisse will be expired by then. My question is – do you have an idea of where I should go to get this recipisse renewed ? Can I go to the 17th tomorrow morning with my stuff and they’ll do it even though my rdv for my APS is not in paris ?
I have had several of your blog entries saved for more than a year because I found them when researching our France move and knew they would be very helpful when the time came for things like renewal, etc. When I looked at this entry today (because I, too, have a renewal appointment AFTER my LSV expires), I noticed your photo on the side . . . and realized that you are also the Hitchcock meetup guru! I owe you DOUBLE thanks! Seems that I should officially subscribe. Thanks for all you do! Merci!
My pleasure. Great to meet you the other day!
Thanks so much for all the super helpful info! The one thing I can’t seem to find (not yet at least) is what to do if your prefecture appointment is AFTER your visa expires AND you have to travel back to US before the expiration date. (My return flight to France is booked for about a week after it expires) Will French airport customs officials let me back into France with an expired visa and some kind of confirmation of prefecture appointment date? My lawyer doesn’t think this will be an issue but I keep reading it’s a risk to even travel with recipisse and expired visa. Would love your thoughts. Thanks!
Your lawyer is correct. They aren’t going to check your passport anyway, but if they do, the recipisse plus the expired visa will be fine.
Thanks! The recipisse is what you get at the end of the prefecture appointment confirming your carte de séjour is being processed, correct? What about before the prefecture appointment – do they give you anything besides an email or doc stating when the appointment is scheduled? Just want to make sure I’ve got the terminology correct .. thanks again!
I was wondering if you could assist me with the following situation. I went to the prefecture today for my appointment for my carte de sejour as my visa expires at the end of October. However, my husband (French) only has a passport and not carte identity and they require that. So the process will take longer to obtain an ID and thereafter, my new rdv might be after the expiration of my current visa. According to the prefecture, this is legal. Please advice
I have been to the préfecture in the Seine et Marne (Melun)4 times already and received 4 recipisses. I feel as if they’re throwing my file in the trash immediately after I leave.(sigh) I don’t understand this as I am a Chevalier of the French government, a fiscal resident of France, a home- owner; I’ve paid taxes here for over 30 years, I am a famous opera singer, Grammy winner, etc…but they seem to not care. Suggestions?
Please I have a question. I only succeeded in getting an appointment at the prefecture for the first request of a titre de sejours after the expiration date of my visa.what can I do ? (visa expires on the 20th of March, appointment on the 23rd of March)
Norena since it’s only 3 days you should be okay, but if you want to be sure, follow my directions in the article and get a recipisse.
What happens if my appointment for renewal of carte de séjour is 5 months before the current card’s expiry date ? Will they kick me out at the appointment for going in too early ? And even if they process my application, will they still issue me the récépissé if my current card still has like 5 months of validity? Thanks!!
Ps. The reason I got an early appointment is that it’s super difficult to get an appointment in my area, sometimes people take months to get 1, so I started checking for appointments 6 months before my card’s expiry and was super lucky to get an appointment the following month, but then it also means it’s 5 months before cards expiry , a bit too early . But if I cancel this appointment I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get 1 again…
Jess there is nothing to stop you from renewing early. It just means you effectively pay more, since you are going to give them more money 5 months sooner than you are required to.
Thank you for this helpful article! I am in a similar situation now. Do you know if the Prefecture in the 17th still issues récépissés? I live in the 5th. Is there another Prefecture I should go to?
Thank you in advance!
Left Bank and Right Bank go to different spots, but things have changed since Covid-19. It may make sense for you to just make an appointment to get a recipisse at the Prefecture.
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