French bureaucracy (a little moan)
Now, I am never one to moan. I am more a man of action rather than words. Upon arrival in France I was fully prepared for a long struggle with the infamous French bureaucracy I had heard so much about. I had many documents and files ready, sharpened and available for my upcoming battle with the various French systems in order to do things properly. I also felt that with all of this complete it would help my transition into life in France and make me feel more like I belonged here. Little did I know just what I was letting myself in for.
Here is just one example of the complications of the bureaucratic system here. I was advised by the British Consulate to register with the French Social Security system straight away, as this will be needed when I start work. On my first meeting with the Social Security office I was given a shopping list of documents that I would need to bring back on my next meeting to be sent away. Once this has been processed I will then receive my Cart Vital (social security account). These documents included…
– My Passport
-The Contract for my apartment
-A letter from my fiancé to say that I live in the apartment (as I wasn’t in France when she signed the contract)
– Her French Identification photocopied
– My Birth Certificate ; the original however will not be acceptable as it must have a stamp from the local authority of my birth from the last 3 months. For this I had to phone up Canterbury county council to get them to send a fresh stamped and dated copy. (There was a fee for this)
– A translation of my birth certificate – Not just any translation which could be done by my fiancé, but a translation done by one of their registered translation companies. For this I had to travel outside of Marseille to a small company and wait 3 days for the document to be translated, to then go back and pick this up. (This also had a fee)
– A photocopy of a letter from my local Pole emploi to say that I had registered with them.
– 2 passport photos.
This all took the best part of a month to gather together, and yesterday I finally returned to the local social security office, hopeful in the knowledge that I might finally be closer to legality. After waiting a good 35 minutes I was told that they would not process my application, as in fact I needed to have a job lined up before they could send off for my social security. It was also fine to use my British social security number for the first few months instead. It turns out that the original information I was given by both the British Consulate and the first meeting I had at the Social Security office was incorrect and I had just wasted the last month and a half waiting for this documentation, when I could have been working.
The question of what happens when my birth certificate and translation expire was met with a shrug and a mumble. The question of why I was given incorrect information from the Social Security office to start with was met with the response “Oh he (the man I originally dealt with) is always making mistakes and getting the information wrong.” SO WHY IS HE STILL WORKING HERE THEN?
This is just Social security. I have had similar experiences when opening a bank account. My fiancé has just been told she can’t register to vote next year because she doesn’t have the right type of household bill! (How exactly are they meant to increase the amount of young people and people from the deprived areas of the city to vote when they make the process to register to complicated and pedantic). One thing is for sure – nothing happens quickly here and you have to be very patient. essentially, I don’t mind the fact that the system is complicated. I was prepared for this. What is more frustrating is when you are given conflicting advice from various people who are supposed to represent and work for the system. You get the impression that system is so complex that they don’t even understand it.
I would love to hear from other people if they have had similar experiences via the comments section below.
This entry was posted on December 22, 2011 by Englishman In Marseille. It was filed under Living in Marseille, marseille, provence, south france and was tagged with bank, bureaucracy, English, EU, france, marseille, money, regulation, social, system, work.