oh, the joys of l’administration française

It’s finally that time of year (for me, at least) where it’s time to go back to school. Even though I’m doing the second year of the same Masters as last year, in France, you have to apply for the second year, and then sign up all over again. You also need to hand in all of your grades from the previous year even though you’re staying at the same university. Somehow, the departments just cannot work together on this one.

To make everything more complicated, I only got my grades for the latest semester yesterday. Yes, yesterday. I may have finished classes in April, but we didn’t have the defense for our “mémoire de stage” until a week ago. Thus, I couldn’t start the enrollment process until yesterday. Because of this, all the other admin type things got put on the back burner (hello, expired visa!) since I need the magical piece of paper that comes from being officially enrolled (will still have to wait on that).

It gets even better. I’m too old for the student health insurance, so I have to provide proof of health insurance for my enrollment. For health insurance, I need to provide a copy of my “titre de séjour” (residency card). To renew my visa for said card, I need to be officially enrolled in school. Yep, that’s pretty much French administration in a nut shell. 

To hopefully get ahead of the situation, I have talked my way into a sort of temporary extension on my visa which I turned in with my health insurance paperwork (that should get the ball rolling until I have my official card). However, I still don’t have any proof of the insurance. I wrote a letter to the school explaining this with the copy of my paperwork for the insurance, so hopefully, they’ll accept that.

Normally, I’d need proof of enrollment for the health insurance as well, but I have to go another route. More on that in another post.


3 thoughts on “oh, the joys of l’administration française

  1. If you’re over 28, then normally there’s a box that gets checked in the registration database and then the university kind of washes their hands of the affair, which means it should okay for you to not have proof of insurance at registration. I also have lots of students who bring proof of responsabilité civile and attestation sécu a week or two after registration. Are you going to get CMU? If the CPAM doesn’t want to register you for CMU because of your carte de séjour, get an appointment to renew at the Préfecture: legally your proof of appointment extends your carte de séjour and has to be accepted by the CAF, CPAM, bank, etc.

    I know it seems dumb to re-register, and to have to bring your grades/attestation de réussite from last year when you were at the same university, but it simplifies the life of the registration office or gestionnaire de scolarité. Among the students I manage, a number of them already studied at the university last year and I could have asked my colleague for proof of them having completed the year. Except that I don’t know off the top of my head which students are new and which are returning, and a few of them were abroad for Erasmus and the grades were late to arrive. Instead of me having to track down the grades for 50+ students, each student does it for him/herself. And as for having to re-register for the second year of a Master, I had almost 10 students email me “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you I’m not actually coming. I got accepted elsewhere” the day after the welcome informational meeting. We never really know who’s going to return, which is why you have to go through the rigamarole each year.

    And lastly, if you’re having trouble getting an appointment at the Préfecture before, say, January, ask your gestionnaire de scolarité to contact the Cellule Préfecture at your local PRES (Pole de recherche et d’enseignment supérieur) to see if you can get an earlier date.


    • Yep, I’m over 28, so I knew I couldn’t get the sécu through them ahead of time. I kind of figured they wouldn’t care, but I really need my inscription, so I just wanted to cover my bases.

      When I went to get the dossier for the CMU at the CPAM, they told me that since I live with my boyfriend, I have to be added to his insurance as an “ayant droit”, so we started the dossier on that. I gave them a copy of the paper I got for starting my titre de séjour renewal, and they accepted it. I just know that eventually they’ll want proof of the real thing.

      The real fun part is that the university has to do the visa renewal for us here (it’s “conventionnée”). My university didn’t even want to start a dossier without an inscription even if it meant I’d be with an expired visa. I went over their heads, and the Prefecture basically yelled at them, so they started a dossier for my renewal which is how I got a sort of récépissé, but not not a real one. Still, as my uni is actually in a different town from where I live, it’s actually working with the Sous-Prefecture. The Prefecture has nothing to do with us (as they so kindly told me when I tried to get a new récépissé from them). On the upside, no appointments at the Prefecture. On the downside, I live closer to the Prefecture and will have to go to the Sous-Prefecture to get my real récépissé and eventually my card when the university gives them my dossier.

      It makes sense for the grades to be given to them, and I do get the reason why it’s actually quite efficient. It’s just extra annoying for those of us in my department, because the office we have to get them from is only open for a brief window of time, twice a week.

      Thanks for all the info!


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