How to Renew Your French Long-Term Stay Visa

The heavy, ancient printer started printing my recipisse.  I closed my eyes.  Whenever the old printer starts running in a French immigration office, you’re in the clear.  I had done it.  I had survived my first year in France and I had just renewed my visa too.  The relief and triumph wasn’t nearly what I felt when I first got one or confirmed it.  But it was relief.  Palpable relief.  I could go on about my year without having to think about this again for a while.

Because I had originally moved to Paris in December 2013 my one year visa was up that same month in 2014.  Trouble was it was around the time I needed to go back to see my family, take care of some business, etc.  I could have chosen to renew it earlier, or I could have just chosen to move to France sometime other than in December, but there it is.  Think about where you will be in one year whenever you do apply for your visa.  I think December and January make a lot of sense for many, though, because the move has all the notes of “new start” and you give yourself a whole year of runway (although some of our readers need only two months!)

To be fair, I had to make two visits, because they asked for some things I didn’t have on hand the first time.  Let’s start with that list, shall we?  You can find it on the Paris Police Prefecture website, right here.  You can also make your appointment for renewal online at this link.  I should make the point that I am speaking to people applying for a long-term visitor visa.  Students and workers should consult their own subcategories when preparing their dossiers.

So, my dear long-term visitors, if you clicked on the link you came to a page that listed your requirements.  Let’s start at the top.  Notice that they want the original and 1 photocopy for each of these documents.  If you have forgotten or the copies get damaged there are large commercial copying machines that charge you 10 cent(imes) per copy in the vestibule of the office you have to go to.  There’s also two photomaton booths to take your pictures should you have forgotten them.  They honestly do have your bases covered here.  When I say “here” of course I mean this building below:

It faces Notre Dame directly and is easily accessible via the Cité stop on the Metro.  Bring water, snacks, a nice book to dig into, charger for your phone, and block out your whole day for whenever your appointment is.  Some say mornings are better, others afternoons – I only chose afternoons because I’m not a morning person and in both instances I “checked in” an hour before my appointment which allowed me to actually be seen only 30 minutes after my scheduled appointment time.  Be early – or you may not even get seen that day.  I’m serious.

Paperwork you MUST have:

1.  A copy of your original titre de sejour as well as the passport which contains it.  This is the sticker you would have gotten on your follow-up visit when you first arrived in France.  For visitors your first year titre de sejour resides simply in your passport.  Come renewal time, you actually get issued a card.

2.  Your birth certificate.  You’ll need a certified French translation of it.  Mine was written in English by the Singaporean government and the French translation cost 72€.  If you need the translator’s contact info, simply ask me.

So, about that birth certificate.  If you’re like me, you keep all your important documents in a folder somewhere.  The trouble was, up to the point when my eyes first looked upon these requirements, I thought I had brought them with me to France.  My birth certificate, immunization record, baptismal certificate, all that jazz.  After the search that starts with, “I’m sure it’s around here somewhere,” turned to, “Goodness, did I actually not bring it to France?” I ended with the eye-closed panic of, “Oh no, it must be with my stuff in storage.”

Before I went to the nuclear option of having to order new copies I called up reliable people in my life – a business partner, a sister, and my mother: “Did I leave any documents with you or do you happen to have a copy of my birth certificate?”  They all replied in the negative.

The boxes of “stuff” that comprised my life when I had an enormous townhome in the United States were currently peacefully residing in the spare room of a dear friend in Kansas City.  It was already enough that he was storing these things for me at no charge.  I wasn’t going to ask him to do the dreaded task ahead: go through all the boxes looking for a manilla or green folder that has a bunch of important documents in it.

Who could I call?  My ex-girlfriend.  I know, this sounds odd, but hear me out.  She is one of the sweetest, best girls I’ve ever dated and she can tell you herself that the move to Paris was perhaps the biggest reason we broke up.  So, could she now assist me in helping to prolong said stay in Paris?  Yes, she’s actually that awesome.

After work one day she drove 30 minutes to my friend’s house and audibly inhaled when she saw the roughly 20 boxes and rubbermaid tubs she had committed to going through.  She called me.  “You’re kidding, right?”  Chagrined, I replied, “Look, if you find it, great.  If you don’t find it, I still owe you.”  Various words of affection were exchanged and she commenced.  Two hours later, no dice.  She hadn’t found it.  (Postscript to the story: when I visited last month to clear out those boxes I found the documents, in a green folder, in a box closest to the doorway.  It might have been in a state of fatigue that she missed the closest possible option.)

So I was officially out of luck, and given that I had only pulled up the requirements 6 weeks before renewal (how hard could it be, right?  Wrong!) I now had to convince either the American government or the Singaporean government to get me a certified copy of my birth certificate.  Why would both of them have one?  Well, I was born in Singapore, so that’s why the Singaporean government would have one.  But I was born as an American citizen abroad, by virtue of my father, so we had a Consular Report of Birth Abroad as well.  Either would suffice.  I decided to bet on both simultaneously.

I went to the American Embassy the Monday after Meghan’s unsuccessful search and got a notarization for a request for the certified copy of my consular report.  I enclosed an American check with the $14.95 overnight mailing fee.  The Singapore process was a little more complicated, but more automated.  I would have to request a copy of my birth extract, which would contain my birth certificate number.  Then I could use the birth certificate number in conjunction with other documents to request a certified copy of my birth certificate.

What had my failure to bring this single document to France with me cost, apart from the emotional distress of waiting?  Roughly 300USD.  So, don’t forget, kids.

Ultimately, Singapore won my bet.  A registered letter containing my birth certificate arrived the day before my appointment at the Prefecture.  The American one had arrived at my American post office box (I use US Global Mail to receive mail and packages while I’m in Europe) a day before but because it was around the Thanksgiving holiday I would not get it overnighted to Europe in time.  And you can’t ask them to ship your certificate outside the US.

3.  3 photos of standard size.  As I said in previous articles, you can find these literally all around Paris and even if you don’t, they have two machines out in the vestibule you can use.  5 euros gets you 5 photos.  Keep the photos.  You’ll need them for other documents and applications while here.

4.  If you are married or have children you will need proof of marriage as well as the birth certificates for your whole family.

5.  EDF or QDL.  EDF is short for “Electricité de France,” the monopoly state-run organization who provides you with a bill you can use for pretty much EVERYTHING in France.  If you rent, like I do, you might not get an EDF, so you’ll bring an up-to-date Quittance de Loyer which is simply proof from your landlord that you are paying rent and have done so faithfully, etc.

So those are the basics for all visas.  Now, let’s look at page 2 and what we long-term visitors additionally need.

6.  12 months of bank statements.  I hope you saved yours or get them digitally.  This could be either a French bank account or an American one.  If the former, you need to ensure that you are not receiving any income from any French companies.  Make sure any wire transfers that come in come from a corresponding account in your name.  Remember that you signed an attestation when you got your visa that you would not do work while here and the careless forgot that (or just stupidly got jobs) and the careful civil servant may look at your statements line-by-line.  You are not required to have a French bank account but I don’t see how you could tolerably live here for one year and not have one.  All my paperwork had been in order up to this point so when my agent started flipping through my bank statements she looked up and asked, “where do you get your money?”  “I tutor on the internet and I also write.”  She nodded, flipped through to October 2014, which was the last statement I could provide, and promptly turned them all over to her “done” pile.  If you don’t have sufficient cash flows in said bank account (they like to see a minimum of 1.5-2k € a month of revenue) you may have to produce other evidence of means – be it a savings account, etc.  As I’ve written before, a simple letter from your bank will not be sufficient.  They will want statements.

7.  Health Insurance.  When I was in America, it was okay to provide proof for this in English.  Not now.  You’re in France now, so just as my birth certificate needed an official translation, I needed one for my medical policy as well.  I had originally selected Cigna Global and while I only found out later that they did have French translations of all the relevant documents, the agent on the phone told me that the “front page” of declarations would be sufficient.  Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t.  The cost of translating my whole policy would have been more than simply buying a French policy of health insurance for foreigners.  So I did just that, and in my cancellation call with Cigna (with a very courteous and apologetic Irish girl) I was told that they did indeed have French docs.  Sorry, I told them.  Maybe next year.  If you want a French policy, I can put you in contact with my agent.  Great lady.

8.  Renter’s insurance for my apartment.  Ohhhhhh.  Well, despite the fact that my lease had stipulated that I carry this, I had simply forgotten.  This held me up at my first appointment and led to a “follow-up” at which time I would bring said documentation proving I did have it.  Rather than admit straight out that I didn’t have such insurance I simply said that I didn’t bring it, which was true – I hadn’t. 🙂  We scheduled a time 7 weeks out, when I would have been safely and actually back from my Stateside visit, and when I came back, having secured insurance (if you need that, my guy is great), I handed said docs to her.  She stamped a couple things, had me sign the document for my new carte de sejour and the old printer started printing.

What was printing was my “recipisse.”  It was a “temporary ID” that was valid for two months.  In two months I could come back to the prefecture, drop 106€, and pick up my permanent card (which I’ll have to renew again).  This was the final separation of my passport from the act of flashing “ID” when asked in France.  To be honest, my American driver’s license worked most times.  But if you’re writing a check, they will prefer a French ID, though some smiling and hand wringing will usually allow for the exceptional passport to be used as proof.

I was, of course, relieved.  I didn’t do this entirely by myself, though.  I consulted with someone who specializes in helping expats, Jean Taquet.  I first started speaking to him last year as part of a long-term strategy to build a business and stay in France.  If you want he will hold your hand every step of the way through the titre de sejour process, up to and including coming with you to the Prefecture.  It’s not free – but I’ll leave it to you to discuss fees with him.  I’ll also talk more about Jean and his help for those who want to make a long-term living here in a future blog post.

As always – remember that if you have your stuff in order and are polite you’ll have success.  Speak the French you’ve hopefully been learning all year with even a measured diffidence, and you’ll go further.


107 thoughts on “How to Renew Your French Long-Term Stay Visa

  1. Pingback: I forgot my passport | The American in Paris

  2. hi! I found this in my feverous search regarding French Visas. The French consulate says you can’t renew the long term visa in france…. I am assuming by your blog this is not truly the case. So two questions:
    If I get the long term visitor visa in the states, can I renew it for another year in france?

    If I get the long term visitor visa, can I switch to a type of self-employed/artist (i make films) visa once I am there? Or do I have to return for that?

    I want to apply for the Carte Competences et Talents – Artist’s Visa, the issue is I don’t think I know enough about france to get it yet. I think after a year I can. I would like to know if I can come on a long stay visitor visa and apply for this card. I have seen vague evidence on the internet that this is possible, but nothing solid yet…

    • Given that I renewed my long-term stay visa in France last year, yes, it’s possible. Not sure what specific case/length the French Consulate was referring to. So, to answer your first question: “Yes, unless I’m somehow special.” As far as “switching” to the “auto entrepreneur” visa once you get here…not so fast. This isn’t college and changing your major, and France is a couple thousand years old so a basic immigration trick like that isn’t going to work. I’m changing my status to a working one later this year, but that took a lot of planning and tactics. Short answer: “No, you can’t.”

      The artist visa is an interesting one – I can connect you with a friend who might be able to help. Email me at stephen AT and I’ll connect you guys.

  3. Hi Stephen,

    I am currently in my search for apartments in Paris and have one question with regard to the apartment that I find and renewing the visa one year later.

    My preference would be to get an apartment for a shorter term (say three or six months) and then get a one year lease perhaps in another location, once I am more familiar with the neighborhoods.

    My question: When I go to renew the long stay visa, will I need proof of where I lived during the previous 12 months, similar to having to show 12 months worth of banking statements? Or will I just show my current lease?



    • Coleman

      Firstly I would recommend using to help you find an apartment.

      Secondly, the renewal is about the future, so a current lease is fine. They don’t assume life works neatly and that you necessarily decided to stay in the same place all 12 months and hence need to show proof of all the places you lived. Furthermore, they don’t require proof that you have signed another 12 month lease. A simple QDL will do. And proof of insurance on that property.


      • Thanks, Stephan. I just found a perfect place for the location that I need on Hopefully I will get a response to my inquiry tomorrow.

  4. Hello! I’m so glad I found your blog post, I am trying to renew my long stay visitor visa in a few weeks and wanted to know,

    1) Where did you get your birth certificate translated
    2) Do I really need renters insurance?
    I live with my boyfriend (french) in his house, so I have all the proof that he owns the place and that I’m allowed to live there, (worked to get the visa coming here), so just wondering if I’ll still need this, seeing as it’s what held up your process.
    3) Do they process the passport/visa right away? Or will I have to come back? Because poor planning I’m flying out to the UK 2 days after my appointment, and will need my passport back.

    Thank you for your help!!

  5. Hello thanks so much for the info.

    Do we really have to have our birth certificate??
    my appointment is in a few days and i thought i just needed to reshow the documents shown when i got my initial long term visa which did not include a birth certificate…. i am so screwed if that is… since it is deep within a box in a storage unit back in the states..

    I’m thinking to go in without the document even if i have to go back instead of canceling/ losing my appointment.

    Can’t believe this birth certificate thing!

    • Heather – you have a 1/100 chance of getting away with this. Worst case, you have everything else in order and when you come back that’s the only document you need to show. There’s always a chance you might not need it. But it’s very, very slim. I would encourage you to get someone to go in there, get it, and overnight it to you. It’s worth the hassle to avoid the hassle.

      PS As a general rule and as the blog demonstrates, don’t EVER make assumptions of the French. Really bad idea 😦

  6. hello, sorry to keep asking, and i’m kicking myself constantly as i write this…

    I know i will not be able to get my birth certificate into my submission files. So in this case would you recommend that i still go to the prefecture knowing that they will ask me to come back with the document?

    Or should i cancel and try to book another appointment instead. I fear i may not get an appointment in time though because my visa expires at the end of january 2016…

    When they asked you to come back, did you have to get another appointment?

    thank you so much for your time…

  7. Let me rephrase the above crazy posting.

    I am going to the embassy tomorrow to get my certificate going as you mentioned. My question is more about: Do you need to make another appointment if you had a missing document the first time? How long did that take for you?

    Sorry for the messy communication, it is indication of my frazzled condition….

    many many, thank yous

    ps. can you please let me know the translators you used for this process?

    • hello Stephen, i tried clicking on your name link but it takes me to a hosting service. I also looked around but could not find your email address or link anywhere?

      can you see my email address? i was required to put it in to post to this thread.

  8. A quick question. You had to produce all these documents to extend your visa for one year. What if I only want to extend mine for 3 months? Will I still need to produce all the documentation you list?

    • Rob – you need to provide documentation to extend. So, I suppose instead of showing a one year lease, you can show them a 3-month. But there’s no “shorter list” for shorter stays. That’s not how the French work, as I try to indicate on this blog 🙂

  9. Stephen, thanks for your answer. Do you think that I will need to have my bank statements translated into French? That would be very expensive, since each one is many pages long. Also, you mention that there’s no shorter list for shorter stays, but when I present myself to the office is there an occasion for me to indicate that I am only wanting to extend for 3 months, not 1 year? I ask this because I am not able to make the case for 1 year, since I absolutely must return to my home country after those 3 additional months? Thanks so much for your help.

  10. Rob – you simply tell them how long you want to renew for. There is a place for that on the form. Just because you were there for a year doesn’t mean you want to renew for a year. Also – where do you bank? Do you not bank with a French bank? If you’ve been here for a year I suspect that they will want to see your French bank account, but if you’ve been living out of your American bank account, you should be able to show them your American bank account statements, untranslated. But you’re asking me about a scenario I’ve never pondered, as I don’t know how someone would live here for a year as a regular part of society without a French bank account, but I feel they are just as likely to ask you for a French translation as they are not. More likely not because you’re asking for so short – and my follow-up is, why don’t you just leave the country (go to London, so you’re out of Schengen, so you get stamped on the way back in) at the end of your visa and come back the next day on a 90-day tourist visa? Free. No hassle. No nonsense. I would never go through this drama for just 3 months. But that’s just me.

    • Dear Stephen, I promise I will only badger you with this one additional question. I thought about leaving and coming back, as you recommend, but I was under the impression that if I leave and the end of my long stay visa I would need to stay gone for a period of time before returning under a tourist visa. Am I incorrect? I hope I am, because it would save a major hassle.

      • you are actually in major luck, IF you have a 1-year long stay visa (such as the initial France visitor’s visa), are from 1 of the visa-free countries that normally allows 90 days upon entry, and if all you want is another 90 days.

        Save this link, be prepared to show it at airport immigration* if you need to make a case:

        See Article 5b, where it says: “Periods of stay authorised under a residence permit or a long-stay visa shall not be taken into account in the calculation of the duration of stay on the territory of the Member States.”

        I’m no lawyer either, but there’s plenty of discussion out there that says you could still take advantage of the normal 90 days visa-free allowance starting the day after your long-term stay expired– you don’t even need to do the proposed “visa run” to London.

        *By the way, re showing that link and making a case: the risk is far greater when you are *leaving* Schengen then when arriving. This used to be counter-intuitive to me but is very true. Immigration is very strict all over Schengen these days re over-staying, so don’t mess with the rules.

      • Just to follow up, given Ken’s helpful remarks and link below, I received confirmation from the French Consulate in San Francisco that I am indeed able to leave France on the date of the expiration of my long-stay visa, travel to a non-Schengen country, and then return to France under a normal 90-day tourist visa. But they did say that I must make certain that I get a stamp on the way out and on the way in. So Ken, while your interpretation of the law is compelling, it’s probably not a risk I would want to take.

  11. Well – as I said – who is going to be checking that? Do you think they are going to flip through your passport, find your OFII stamp, then do the math and realize your visa just ended and ask why the hell you are in France? Or are they going to see you as a tourist, and flip to the closest page available and stamp and wave you through? My bets are on door #2. This is also where I remind you that I offer advice, but I’m no lawyer or immigration expert. Just someone who’s been through the paces with these people.

  12. Hi, I will reiterate Monica’s (unanswered) question: What’s the deal with the apt insurance? I have stayed at long stay vacation rentals and similar, so no utility bills nor insurance, but an informal “lease” from landlord worked to get my titre de sejour. To do (my first) renewal, will apt insurance be a new required thing (like needing a birth certificate even tho it wasnt needed to get original visa)? Or did you only need it because it was somehow entailed in the lease you produced in your paperwork?

    • Bruce
      As I stated, yes, you need to bring insurance for your property. It’s not a “new required thing” because you’re assuming that the renewal process is like the process for the original visa – except it’s different on a number of levels. My “job” on this blog is to get people as prepared as I know possible. So sending you to one of these appointments without insurance (which is both inexpensive and easy to obtain) would be remiss of me. And careless of you. You have to be prepared to produce even the things that are not listed on the sheet they give you at the prefecture. This is how the French work and I try to constantly make that clear on the blog – Bring everything, and even more than everything 🙂

      • hmmm…I’m not sure what renters insurance would even mean for someone like me who has been staying at essentially hotels (i.e. residence hotels) for up to 2 or 3 months at each location…I was hoping you would say that the only reason the French Govt would even care about it was that it was a required part of your particular lease, and hence was considered part of proving that you had a valid one.

  13. Ah – Bruce – I misunderstood – I didn’t realize you meant you had been staying at short-term rentals during this past year – I thought you meant in the past, just as a point of reference about insurance in general.

    So, in that case – I don’t think your problem will be with renter’s insurance. If the French are okay with you moving around every few months, they certainly won’t care about renter’s insurance. I’m not sure why you chose to do that, as it doesn’t show a lot of stability, but I don’t think you’re required to stay in any one place. It just makes your visa application simple if you do. I’ve never heard of anyone applying for a one-year visa after moving around during that one year, so keep us posted on what happens so others can learn. 🙂

    • Hi there,
      I wrote you an email with some queries but had an additional one that’s relevant to the ones here so thought I’ll pop it in here. I’m currently subletting and have no written lease. My intention is to submit an attestation d’hébergement + facture électricité (under the name of my landlord) with his ID. My first visa has a different address and so I intend to state that I’ve only just moved. Question: I have a bank transfer record of the rent I’ve paid in Nov. Should I include that in my dossier or make it out that I’m not paying rent at all (which was the case in my first visa application) ? That way I’m off the hook for any official documents trying to prove where I live.

      I obviously don’t have renter’s insurance and can’t get one.

      • Candice
        I’m not entirely sure what you’re asking. You are providing “official documents” proving where you live in the form of the ADH and the EDF you are going to provide. If you have no written lease you clearly can’t just fabricate one now.

        Remember that although this is a renewal, there is no institutional memory. When they sit down with you, it’s almost a new application – they are going to look through all the documents again. Yes, it’s a renewal, but don’t feel like “because this is how I did it last time this is how I have to do it this time.”

        I also don’t know why you would have to prove you pay rent when you already have an ADH?

  14. Very helpful info! Somewhat off-topic, have you had to convert your American drivers license to a French one or have any experience with that? We are coming up on our 1 year and planning for the visa renewal, but also understand we are meant to have converted our licenses within the year as well. Were you/ have you ever been asked for your French license?

    • Naomi – I’m not a driver here – I drove over a million kilometers when I lived in America and bask in the beauty of public transportation supplemented by taxis and uber. If you don’t convert your license within one year, you won’t be able to, and will be dumped into their arcane system of driver’s education and training. So, if you have any intention of staying here long term AND driving, you better get your license.

      For me, the hassle and trade off of not keeping my American license, when you can use it for so many things there, including domestic travel, I made the conscious decision NOT to get a French license. I may write on this topic at some point.

  15. Hi Stephen,

    My question is that whether I should prove that I pay rent to fulfil the criteria of having a Quittance de Loyer, as that may strengthen my case. The ADH is written by my landlord and the EDF is under his name (as stated in my original reply). Hence, I can get one without a written lease. The purpose of the EDF is to prove that he is connected to the property. Yes, I get your point on forgetting the first time, but the reason why I’m drawing on the previous experience is to explore the options on how I should present my case.

    As far as I know, most sublets do NOT have a formal written lease in Paris that’s legally actionable. And that causes a problem.

    I hope this clarifies?

    • Candice – I think you’re making a huge distinction between ADH and QDL as proofs of residence – except there’s not such a big distinction at the prefecture. And it’s not the part of your application that receives the most attention. All they want to know is that you are staying in France legally in some kind of regular residence. If you were able to obtain your visa with an ADH (which was perfectly acceptable to OFII when I presented one for my 90-day visit after I first arrived) I don’t see why it wouldn’t do in a renewal situation.

      Furthermore, you don’t have to “prove you pay rent” in order to get a QDL. Your landlord issues you one or doesn’t – you don’t have to provide a QDL AND proof you pay rent to the prefecture. The QDL is its own standalone document that says you are in good standing at that place, though a QDL is going to lead to the follow up question of “where’s your renter’s insurance”?

      In my case, I have a lease and renter’s insurance, and have since about the 3rd month I lived in Paris, but even then, when it came to this point in the interview, my inspector glanced at the lease to verify that the address was the same, then put it onto her “done” pile, then looked at my insurance to see that it matched the address, ran her fingers along the policy limits, then flipped it onto the done pile. Probably about 20 seconds altogether.

      Do I think that they may look a bit more closely at an ADH + EDF + someone else’s ID? Sure. But I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker. As long as you can explain your situation, and have documentation to back yourself up, you should be fine. Does that help?

      • Hi Stephen,
        Yes thanks heaps. I’m just overthinking this in true French fashion of pre-empting the possible obstacles they could throw to complicate everything. I keep being settled at what I have and then I’ll go into panic mode and think of other documents that I can add to my dossier! Especially in this case, a QDL was mentioned (as an OR though). Honestly, I am baffled by their acceptance of an attestation in such a manner while being notoriously a stickler for admin. Back in Australia, we call it a statutory declaration and it needs to be witnessed by a Justice of Peace or other notarised persons. Thank goodness no such thing here else it’ll really do my head in! Cheers.

  16. Is there an online/easy way to get renters insurance (with a French document, because I assume it has to be in French)? Or who is the guy you mentioned? I don’t have a french bank account (no french income) so I’d rather not set foot in one.

    btw – I didn’t have 3 months left on my long stay visitor visa (only 2, which is when the French consulate in Miami told me ON A PRINTED DOCUMENT to go for renewal) so I went to the Paris prefecture anyway. They would not let me in. They said make an appointment (via the online site), and as long as you made the appointment before the visa expires it is ok. We’ll see how it plays out.

    • Brian – did the document tell you to go to the Prefecture for an appointment and neglect to say “make an appointment”? This might be a lost in translation moment – the staff at the consulate might have thought in their French brains, “Surely he won’t go to the Prefecture without an appointment…imagine what would happen if we allowed that”? 🙂

      You’ll be fine as long as you got a date. Below is the link you asked for as far as online renter’s insurance. I can’t vouch for it. Just answering your question.

      • The document which I received last April from the French consulate in Miami says (in English) something like “to renew your long stay visa go to the prefecture within the last two months before it expires” and “They will give you a list of things you need and you can make an appointment”. Bad information, obviously. But that is what it says.

      • Hello!!

        It Is June and my visa ends on October 16. My passport expired June 2017. Two questions, can I still renew my long stay visa even though it’s past the 6 month mark? And will I need to renew my passport before the appointment since if I get the extension it would be valid beyond June 2017?


      • Val you can’t do a “renewal” on an expired visa. You can apply for a new one. As for your passport, that’s not really relevant – as long as it’s valid at the time you present it (and isn’t expiring within a few months) you’ll be fine – but in general I say don’t wait until your passport is nearly expired to renew.

  17. Hi Stephen, Thanks for writing this. Could you let me know where you had your birth certificate translated? Also, you wrote that we’d need 12 months of bank statements. On the prefecture’s list of requirements, the way I understood it is they want to see a bank statement showing you have money equivalent to 12 months worth of salary (for someone earning minimum wage) at the time of application. So just your recent statement, not one that goes 12 months back? Thanks again.

    • June – if you send me an email I can get you my translator’s information.

      If you are speaking about your original application, yes, you are correct, and to an extent, for the renewal as well. The reason for the 12 months of bank statements is that you are a) demonstrating that you are living here in France and b) are not making income here. I have had readers tell me that they have gone in with bank statements certifying a large amount of capital and that has been satisfactory.

      • HI Stephen, just wondering if have you heard any more about whether these bank statements need to be translated into French? I have an australian bank account and am worried that the cost of translating 12 months would be huge! thanks 🙂

      • Lisa – I think that 12 months of original (in English) Australian bank statements, along with a letter, in French, from your bank, which testifies to your moving daily/monthly balance, should do the trick.

  18. The aduciel website provide above does not function correctly. If anyone has an easy way to get renters insurance in Paris without having a French bank account, please advise. The amount of time I have spent researching and trying to obtain is now at the ridiculous level.

  19. Hi Stephen, My original insurance provider is unable to provide a policy in French. Can you please give me the information for your agent?

  20. Thanks for all the info. I have 2 questions. Do you need the same things for the 3rd year, etc? In other words, Do you need a new translated birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. each year? Second, since my husband and I will have two separate appointments – do we EACH need everything original for the long stay visa the first time and each subsequent time? Thank you!

  21. For anyone needing renter’s insurance (which is everybody needing to renew a long stay visitor visa): The US embassy website has a list of resources on various topics, including insurance. One company listed was AON of France. The email address for “us” to use is:

    After I emailed them and filled out a form, they mailed me the certificate/document I need. I haven’t had my visa appointment yet, but I do have a document that (I think) says I have renter’s insurance.

  22. Hi Stephen, this blog post is SO helpful!!! i was just wondering, i cant get my health insurance policy in French (and as you say to get it translated would be expensive). can you please tell me who your insurance provider was?

  23. Hey, can you please help me figure out where I can get a translation of my birth certificate? I have my original and it is in Russian, though I am now an American Citizen, I carry a US passport, but am here studying french. Thank you!

  24. Hi Stephen, Just a question on the total amount needed in your bank account. if the minumum wage is around 1,500 to 2000 euros per month so you would require a total of about minimum 20,000 euros in your account to present to them is that correct?

    • James – yes – or an account you have access to, like a 401K or something you are a signatory to. Alternatively, something that shows you will be receiving the necessary monthly income, either a letter from an employer or a bank.

  25. Hi Stephen, just got a quick question. Do you have to surrender your old carte de sejour? Would you be able to still travel with just the recipisse? thanks

    • Naomi – yes, traveling with the recipisse is sufficient – but I’ve recently been traveling in Schengen, and as usual, have not even had to show my passport, much less my French ID, but I applaud your thoroughness in bringing it along (I left it at home 🙂 )

  26. I just returned from the prefecture with my recipisse (receipt?) for my carte de sejour. They gave me another appointment 3 months from now to pick up the actual card. Here are my tips for US citizens renewing their long stay visa:

    1) Insurance: Go to Agent Generali France Assurance, located at 37 avenue Gambetta 75020 (metro Gambetta) in Paris. They will sell you the necessary HEALTH insurance AND ALSO renter’s assurance. The documents are in French, they have good prices, and I didn’t even have to wait in line. I spent WAY more time trying to find out information, sources, etc., then I actually did buying the insurance. (My health insurance cost was approx 550 euros (single male) for a year of coverage.) . They ONLY take cash. No credit cards. I had someone that spoke good French with me, which was helpful. Don’t expect English. BUT… they do know immediately what you need and the transaction is quick and painless (except for parting with 550 euros).

    2) Insurance part 2: This email address (which I obtained from the US embassy website) can also lead you to renter’s insurance. I actually purchased from them (220 euros for the year, small apartment, no valuables). Had I visited Generali insurance first I would have purchased from them.

    Prefecture Meeting: I have a fairly large amount of money in my US-based bank/brokerage account. I showed them the most recent one month statement and that was sufficient. (I had a year’s worth of bank activity printed and ready as a back-up). However, the woman said “You need a bank account in France next year”, implying for the next visa renewal I will need to have a French bank account. My bank statement was in English.

    Important NOTE: I was surprised by this: I WAS REQUIRED TO SHOW THEM MY OFII MEDICAL VISIT DOCUMENT. This is a document you receive when you complete your OFII medical visit after your first arrive in Paris. Thankfully I had everything with me in a folder, so I had this document. It has a couple of stamps on it… and unfortunately the woman at the prefecture took the original – I hope I do not need it again for the next renewal. (Of course, the fact that I have the OFII stamp in my passport indicates I passed the medical visit, but they wanted the document today anyway.)

    So the documents they took were:

    – Renter’s Insurance
    – Health Insurance
    – Bank statement
    – OFII medical visit
    – EDF power electricity document (A QDL document from your landlord if you do not have a power bill)
    – Birth certificate (translated into French, cost me 50 euros, can’t recommend my translator, too bad for her)

    So thanks to Stephen for the information. Hopefully this summary is beneficial to someone.

  27. Hi Stephen,

    thank you for this information. One question, how long do you need to renew the long term stay visa before it ends? Because I currently have a 6 month visa and I was hoping to get another 3 months after that under a tourist visa (by simply leaving and re-entering the country after the long stay visa ends) before renewing my long stay visa.

    Thank you!

    • Cheejun

      I’m a bit confused by your question. If you mean, can you stay as a tourist for 90 days after your visa ends by exiting and then returning, the answer is yes. If the question is, can you renew after being under a tourist visa, then the answer is no, as you can’t “renew” something that is expired. You would need to apply for a new visa.

  28. Hi Stephen,

    Just a quick question, do they absolutely require a French/American bank account or any bank account will do? Because my family lives in Singapore and I was hoping to get my dad to print his bank statement and vouch that he will support me financially should I extend my visa (is that possible too?).

    Thank you for everything!

    • Since I’m writing the American in Paris blog, I will refer to “American” bank accounts but surely a Singaporean would not be using an American account, right? As far as renewal goes, the reason I say a French account is the way to go is because then that part is easier. If you have a letter in French from your father, along with a letter from your bank, in French, noting that you have access to these accounts, and then all the statements of the accounts in English, then I think you could possibly be okay. But giving him a bunch of English-spoken bank accounts with an explanation in English? That’s not going to work.

  29. Hi Stephen, Im trying to get a head start on the process and i was wondering if they need a long copy of the birth certificate or will an abstract work? Does it need to be less than 6months old? Also, is an apostille required? (Im also going through the process for a pacs and they require a long version less than 6months old with apostille so im hoping to only have to order them once!)

    Cheers and thanks for the helpful post!

  30. Hi there and thank you!
    I would love help. My long term visitor Visa expires January 14th and I have been trying to book an appointment on line but I cannot get the website to work and I cannot get through on the call.

    I would be going to Montpellier… or I could go to Nime.

    Help! All I want to do is set my appointment 🙂

    Thank you!


    • I went to the Paris prefecture and they would NOT make an appointment for me. They said the only options were online of telephone. Try someone else’s phone or computer/browser.

    • Dear Ms. Strickland,

      Stephen Heiner forwarded your email message.
      I believe that you have the long stay visa and also the OFII stamp which you got once you finished the medical visit.

      Legally speaking the OFII stamp is your immigration ID and its validity is the same as your visa. Therefore the information you need to book the appointment with the prefecture is on this stamp and not the visa. Indeed on the upper left corner there 3 numbers the last of the 3 is “le numéro d’étranger” which is the one used by the prefecture as an ID Nº for your length of your stay. The system generates the confirmation of the appointment called “convocation” which has your ID Nº. It also give you the list of documents to bring at the meeting. Make sure that the file is complete

      This is the most common difficulty when people try to book an appointment through the website.

      Doing it through the phone it used to be very difficult as the line was busy all the time. Today I find a lot easier after navigating through the choices offered. The very first thing again that is asked is the ID Nº. This phone number is not easily found on the site,

      Last comment you are better off taking the very 1st appointment of the day 8:45. Yes you wait at least 30 minutes outside the building as it is better to show before 8AM but you end up being one of the very first ones arriving in that office and you are out of there within just one hour.

      This is for the prefecture in Paris, the other prefectures have pretty much the same procedure.

  31. Pingback: Three Years On: Part I, Penseés for those planning to move to France | The American in Paris

  32. Yet another piece of (possibly useful) information: I now have my plastic “titre de sejour” card. I’ve been through this process once already. So now I am planning ahead and trying to make an appointment early… months prior to my visa expiring… so I don’t have to worry about what I’ll do if they won’t renew it (which they will/should, but I don’t like to worry) next year.

    Guess what? You can NOT make an appointment for a time prior to your visa expiring. Right now I am 5 months prior to visa expiration, and the 1st appointment shown as available is the 1st day AFTER my visa expires. So unless the visa office is closed from now until May 2nd, they aren’t letting me make an appointment until after my visa is officially expired. Unreal.

    • Such a long delay at the Paris prefecture has existed for a long time for some offices. Private life is indeed about that time. Now there is ZERO, truly NO need to ask for an appointment before the card expires. It is even detrimental to you to have an appointment too early as you could lose some months on the validity of the card as they tend to start the new card the day of the appointment in those circumstances. If you past a few weeks and even more a few months, you can always ask for a ‘récépissé’ to bridge until the day of the appointment.

      • never count on that those prefecture appointments are worth close to gold. Exceedingly rare they are cancelled. Also once you have one appointment you cannot get a new one unless you cancel it before and running the risk of losing both as the better deal will surely be gone by the time you can choose it!

  33. Just a follow up – it looks like the visa appointment lead time right now is SIX MONTHS. It does not appear contingent upon the expiration date of my visa. But it means you must make your appointment SIX MONTHS prior to when you want it. (This is for the prefecture in Paris). Unbelievable…

    (and M. Taquet – there are plenty of reasons to want your visa finalized before it’s expiration date)

    • BT – Were you able to make an appointment six months in advance prior to your expiration? My understanding was that the online system would only accept a person’s request no more two months before expiration. Appreciate your info.

      • Right now I am 6 months prior to expiration. The online site went through the process of taking my titre sejour number, birthdate, etc. then gave me next available appointment times.

        The earliest appointment date that is available is 6 months from now. That is AFTER the expiration of my visa. It looks like I can go ahead and make this appointment reservation, but I won’t be in town at that time. So I have to wait for LATER times to become available. Because of this I did not go ahead and MAKE my reservation/appointment. However it looks like I just make the reservation like I did last time and it will give me the appointment for 6 months from now.

        Maybe what you heard is that you can obtain an appointment date that is at most 2 months prior to your visa expiration date. I do not know if that is the case. For me to have tried to get an appointment date 3 months prior to my visa expiration it looks like I would have had to make an appointment about 3 months ago – which is actually about the time when I picked up my card from the office from LAST YEAR’s renewal process.

        I will update on this blog about 1 month from now when I accept an appointment time for June.

      • You are welcome and keep in mind that the Paris prefecture is currently massive renovation and this disorganises some their work AND has recently set up the text message alert to pick up the new card when ready. It is not properly working either. So people need to be very careful when renewing their immigration status in Paris right now and probably for most of 2017.

      • These 2 months come from OFII and clearly they have not followed the steady increase in the delay to obtain the appointment. These last days, I had clients arguing I was wrong since the French administration stated 2 months. Then when they saw the appointment secured 2 days after the expiration date, the discussion changed.

    • I confirm the blocking of the prefecture if one tries more than 6 months before. I also confirm that the appointments are issued right now about 6 months in advance. It is quite unusual and I do not have an explanation for this.

      I know that they are valid reasons for people to attempt to book an appointment before the expiration date. The risk is that the new card starts at the date of the meeting and not the expiration date of the old card. People decide if this is worth it.

  34. Hi Stephen,
    Thank you for providing all of the above listed information – much appreciated!
    I am Australian and currently on a 1 year tourist visa in France. I recently went for my appointment to extend and have been asked to return with further documentation. I am however having difficulty in getting information from the Prefecture de Police regarding the requirements of said documents (and yes, I know, I should have confirmed at the appointment – but I did not!). These are for (1) proof of income & (2) health insurance. Is this something you could possibly advise on?
    (1) Proof of Income – They have requested ‘relevés bancaires en francais’. From your experience, does this means a line by line translation of my most recent bank statements (I have two – 1 US & 1 Australian), or does it mean a summary of assets across the two accounts – translated into French and converted into Euros?
    (2) Health Insurance – I currently have World Nomad Health Insurance but this expires this month (hence why I need to come back with another), and I require ‘assurance medicale 1an en Francais’ for my new visa application. From your experience, if I were to move forward with another policy from world nomad (I feel comfortable with them, and like their customer service etc), would I require the full policy to be translated into French, or just the page outlining what I am covered for. Alternatively, is it better to purchase health insurance in France, from a French health care provider such as Generali?
    Apologies for all of the questions. I understand that you do not work for the Prefecture de Police or immigration department. I’m just hoping that you may have come across these questions/requests before.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Bethaney
      The ideal is to have French bank account statements. If you don’t have a French account yes I think having the originals with a French cover page explaining the moving monthly averages with conversion to Euros would be a step in the right direction. You don’t even want to know what a line by line translation would cost.

      As far as the insurance question I highly recommend getting a french policy. It will likely be cheaper and you won’t have any worries about translation. You can send me an email and I can connect you with someone if you would like.

  35. Hi Stephen,
    Thank you for the quick response!
    I do not have a french bank account (as I am unable to work in France and therefore have no income it did not make sense for me to get one), so a summary of my savings across my Australian & US accounts translated into French and converted into Euros seems like the best way to go.
    As for insurance, I agree. As much as I love World Nomad I believe its time to transition to a french policy. Please can you confirm your email address (I can’t seem to locate it on the site), as any recommendations would be much appreciated.
    Thank you!

    • Allow me to respond. You are now a French immigrant and it is now mandatory to have a French bank account if you live in France, just like you must have health insurance valid in France. What you are doing ” so a summary of my savings across my Australian & US accounts translated into French and converted into Euros seems like the best way to go.”

      will only buy time and you will go back 3 months later with the proof of the opening of the French bank account and the last statement.
      So you are much and I mean MUCH better off opening the account NOW!!! You might still have to go back to show your statements but the hardest part will have been done and the problem is fixed sooner than later.

    • Hi Bethaney,
      I am Australian and I think I might face the same problems when I go to renew as well. It is really difficult opening a bank account in France since terrorist attacks without considerable amount of wealth to invest in an International Bank (such as HSBC)
      I have a 2 year travel insurance comprehensive policy with QBE in Australia which has already paid out twice in France! Surely this is enough!

      • Bethaney if you join our Facebook group there are at least a couple Americans who have opened a French bank account with standard opening balances. We can pass on names and contacts to you there.

      • I have the list of the documents needed for just about all the different immigration statuses that exist. I can send the one for you through email.
        Keep in mind that the entire documentation submitted at the prefecture must be in French and therefore a policy 100% in English means a considerable cost for translating those documents. Keep that in mind when you shop for the best deal!!
        Once the logic is understood and the requirements accepted, the renewal of this immigration is simple and quite cheap.
        The cheapest policy that complies with the prefecture is 410€ a year, but I am not sure that the coverage it offers meets your expectation.

        I can be very useful in making this process simple and cheap even when you add my fees!!!!

      • BTW, this is a side issue but it can help considerably. Having a bank account in France is MANDATORY for everyone living in France including you. I know about the difficulties of opening an account for foreigners and YES the French banks state that you are foreigner and therefore you “Must” open a non resident account which asks for exorbitant deposit. Now if you “demand!” to have an account opened as a French immigrant which you are BTW, it changes radically the response coming from the bank. It is does not, then you can report this to the “Banque de France” the French Federal Reserve, suddenly the bank behaves differently!
        This is just food for thoughts

  36. Hi there, thanks for this really helpful post and questions. Do you know if I could do a side trip to Switzerland as it is technically not part of the EU to gain a 90 day tourist visa? I really only need to renew for another 3 months but to go to London is difficult from the ski fields in France.
    Also to apply for this extension, do you know would I just attend an interview at my local prefecture? presumably I would not need to go to Paris
    Thanks for your help!

  37. Hi Stephen, Liz, Jean,
    Thank you all for your feedback! I will endeavour to open a french bank account prior to my appointment, though as I do not want to transfer my savings from my Australian & US accounts into said French account (I charge everything to my credit cards and manage payments online) – I will still have to find a solution to providing those account balances in French.
    I have had no luck to date in confirming with the prefecture de police on what documentation will suffice. But I will update here if and when I do for those that are facing the same issue.
    I was living working in New York when I applied for my initial visa so all of my documentation was written in English. I had assumed (I know, you should never assume!) that documentation for the renewal process would be the same. So the request for everything translated into French has thrown me for a bit of a loop. It may have been easier (and only slightly more expensive) to fly back to the US to renew!
    Stephen if you could please provide your email address I will email you direct. I would love your recommendations on the best french health insurance providers for foreigners living in France.
    Thank you.

  38. Thank you so much for this! I’m renewing my VLS in March and this has put my mind at ease. Any health insurance recommendations are greatly appreciated, as I dislike my Cigna plan and feel it’s time to move on to a different company. Thank you, SR

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