One of the (many) joys of living outside of France is that you have to deal with the French administration abroad. If you need a new passport, an ID card or a birth certificate, there is only one place to go in London: the French Consulate on Cromwell road, in South Kensington.
In order to get your papers in time, you need to be organised. As in: very organised. For starters, you need to book an appointment on the website. And usually the first appointment you can get is in 4 to 6 weeks. And guess what: they are only open between 8.45 am and 4.30pm. Except on Fridays – they close even earlier. Obviously, you can’t book any appointments during weekends. Obviously. Silly me.
Someone will have to tell me how people manage when they need something. My children are usually at school during the week. And the adults work. To make matters even worse, if you want a passport for your child you will need to bring him/her for the application AND to get the passport as well. Why make things simple when they can be complicated? Oh, and don’t believe what they say on the website: just bring all your papers. Everything (Mark my word). You never know, and the rules keep changing anyway…On the bright side, getting your ID card is completely free and the fee you have to pay for a passport is marginal compared to what the Brits have to pay. If you want to get fast tracked in France, you need to know someone at the Embassy. If you don’t, tough luck.
The British way is neither better nor worse: it is simply different. You have to send various application forms with a (usually hefty) cheque and you will receive a response, positive or not, a few weeks later. Or a few months. You never know. Oh, and the Brits have all sorts of help lines. That said, don’t bother calling them: they never work. After a 30-min wait you will be told that the lines are busy and could you please check their website? Simply charming. That said, if you are willing to pay a few thousand pounds, I am pretty sure that there will be a fast track system somewhere. Apparently if you pay a £6 000 fee, official representatives come to your house for your work visa application and you will receive a response the following day.
Why is life so complicated? Why all this non-sense? I sometimes dream of living on a remote island where everybody would know each other and where there would be no need to justify anything. A dream come true. In the meantime, I need to renew my passport.
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London