Can someone help with with this brick wall I keep banging my head on?

Please, please someone advise me because I'm ridiculously confused/depressed/upset by my attempts to get a Carte Vitale.

In February, I declared auto-entrepreneur. Did it online, no problems, promptly received my Certificate d'inscription, Notification d'affiliation au regime auto-entrepreneur, NNI, SIRET No. Account No.

All good.

Went to our local RSi office at Perigueux in March, with my affiliation and birth certificates/EDF bills, passports etc. had a lovely chat, they were really helpful and when I asked if I needed to assermentee translate my birth certificates for the Carte Vitale, I was told "no you speak reasonable French, it's just a few different words, so do it yourself".

Still all good, almost great.

So, I copied the birth certs, marriage certs and (UK) passports for myself, my wife and our 2 children, translated them, then sent them to RSi.

A month passed, then, in April, I received a letter from the RSi asking for:

1. Un extrait de date de naissance avec filiation (indication des noms et prenoms du pere et de la mere)

2. Un piece de identite en cours de validite - basically they wanted a carte de sejour.

So, I phoned them up and said "look" I've sent you this info and I'm an EU citizen, I was told by Perigueux office to translate it myself.

To which they said that I had to assermentee translate and abide to the rules of France if I wanted a carte vitale.

I then had a plan, so I went to Perigueux office again and explained the situation. A different lady told me that the lady (colleague) who had previously advised me "had no right" to tell me to translate on my own - God forbid that I should change February to Fevrier - and literally shouted at me to abide by the rules of France if I wanted a Carte Vitale.

In May, I received another letter from RSi demanding a carte de sejour ou de carte de residence, so I went to the Mayor and said please tell them that I'm an EU citizen and that carte de sejours aren't applicable to me? They then stamped the letter, wrote that I was an EU citizen, lived and worked here. I sent that back to RSi, recorded delivery.

Then in June, I received a letter now only demanding the birth certificates translated by an assermentee translator.

So, 150 euros later, I sent these back to RSi, recorded delivery. Strangely the address on the receipt that arrived a week later in my letterbox was different to the address I sent the certs to, but hey, at least they received them.

A month ago, I phoned up to ask what on earth is going on and they the told me to speak to RAM (who seem to share the same letter headed paper) so I phoned RAM and they were really apologetic, said they had my information and that they would issue an attestation to confirm that I was eligible for a Carte Vitale until I received my Carte Vitale, which wouldn't be long. Of course this would only cover me and not my family.

Great, it's just the waiting game and true to their word, I've received that attestation.

However, I've also just received a letter from RSi/RAM (same names on the paperwork) asking for......

1. Une copie de L'extrait d'acte de naissance original -assermentee traduction.

2. l'apostille (document fourni avec l'acte de date de naissance pour les ressortissants des pays signataires de la Convention de la Haye 1961 et demande a l'autorite competente de L'etat d'ou emane l'acte)

3. La legalisation (tampon certifiant l'authenticite des signatures apposees sur''acte d'etat civil)

4. Translated Marriage certificate

5. A carte de Sejour.

So...I phoned them up and asked an assermentee translated WTF? And they told me that if I wanted a Carte Vitale, which is a very important and honoured document, then I should abide by the rules of France.

I can't do it anymore. Why am I paying my cotisations? Why am I declaring? Why did I even bother?

It's such a genuinely scary situation not having any health cover. I paid (alot of) tax and (alot of) NI in the UK for all my post-grad life, I had hoped to carry on here.

I am not going through these hoops again. I think, next trip will be to the Pole Emploi and I'll just sign on in the hope they'll give me a Carte Vitale. Seriously.

I haven't read through the whole thread, but anyhow as long as you pay, you're covered. Have you received a paper "carte d'affiliation", if yes, it will do the trick, if not, go to RSI and moan.

Don't believe it's anything against foreigners, I'm French (well, part..), studied here, have a social security number, left for 20 years and it took me 2 years to get a Carte Vitale with the right SIRET number and my name spelled correctly (it's a typically french one, nothing fancy).

They lost my documents more times than I care to remember, and I'm pretty sure that things are still very muddled as I still receive letters from CPAM. It's a gigantic mess, everybody knows it, just do your best to humour them and be persistent. You will get there!

when i got my cover, i went to the CPAM permanence in the town hall of my nearest town (not necessary to go to department capital as it were). they were really helpful, helped me fill in the forms etc. i think i needed to come back the next week with further info - current tax form, identity etc. she took all the paperwork away, i got a carte vitale however many weeks or so later. i would suggest trying that. take all your paperwork and see if they can help.

Oooh, that sounds good.

You've found someone to scare them. Hopefully, the Tribal Administrative is a kind of Kryptonite?

I absolutely love the Majority of French living, but it's the disproportionately annoying issues like this that really do my head in.

I'm not against procedure, I quite like the manner in which I had to immatriculate our vehicles, as I had a list of stuff to provide and then they gave me Carte grises. Not simple, but at least it was finite!

I'm having a similar issue with the tax return form. As it was our first declaration, my wife and I went to our local impot office at the end of April, took everything, ID, EDF bills, forms, Passports, etc. We spent 2 hours going through everything, payslips, bank accounts etc.

Nothing else was required of us. Forms were all completed. Very amicable meeting.

4 months later, I received a letter from a reviewer (her office is 1 floor higher than the people we saw, but in the same building) confirming that we had no economic interest in France, couldn't prove that we lived here and hadn't paid tax here.

So, I spent an hour with her explaining that I had spent 2 hours showing all of our 'proof' to her colleague(s) at the first declaration meeting. She hadn't spoken to them at all, as it was her job to independently review our submission.

Apparently, I hadn't paid tax in France, but I explained (as I had in detail before) that I had paid tax in the UK and provided all my payslips. She then said "exactly, but you haven't paid tax in France". I then asked her what the Double Indemnity Treaty was and she slowly admitted that paying tax in the EU is the same as paying tax in France.

She then told me that there was no proof of us residing in France, so I said what about our Carte Grises, EDF bills, School meals, etc. etc. to which she said "yes that would prove it".

I then explained to her that as I had provided all of this info to her colleagues at the correct time and place, which they had copied, that I would be damned if I was going to do it again and, with respect, I was very concerned that they had lost copies of my Passports, Payslips and Bank Accounts, so if she thought that I was going to repeat the process, she was mistaken.

It was quite an amicable exchange, I remained professional during the conversation, but did advise that the main issue appears to be the flooring that separates the ground and first floors of her office.

So, I guess we still don't exist in the eyes of the French tax office. (If I had a rolling-eyed smiley, I would add it at this point).

ok then so you are with RSI/Ram Gamex Bourges like us then. I think it is best you try to communicate directly with them like I did, keep calling! Call every week and keep asking what is happening with your dossier and that you've sent in all the information requested. Ask for your attestation de sante to be sent out straight away. Ask to have your beneficiaries added to your attestation - there is a separate form for this.

Beware of Nick's discussion though - we are now heading into the festive period so that means few people will be inclined to do any work so it's more likely you'll make progress in the New Year.

Good Luck.

Hi Henry, sorry I have been out all day. Were you with CPAM first? I s that why you have a social security number? We were with CPAM when we first came but, when we went AE they changed our SS numbers. I am not sure if this was because we went self employed. But if you have the SS number and this was issued after setting up AE then there is no reason for them to not give you an attestation. This happened to a friend of mine and she waited 12 months then she when on to the ameli site and found the formula for a lost carte vitale. She printed it off and completed the form with her social security number and voila a new form requiring a recent photo turned up within 10 days, it was completed and returned & roughly 10 day later the card turned up. Worth a try.

THE RSI are experiencing major internal admin problems since the restructuring in 2007 when they became the main collector of social charges for self-employed people. We've had the odd hiccup but on the most recent query my husband had, he e-mailed them and they have been very helpful and quick to reply. Worth a try maybe?

Totally agree Lib and great advice to the kids. I'm totally with you on the pleasure you feel, when you are proved correct, it's very satisfying. Any chance you could put up a photo please, so we can get to know you better?

I sympathise entirely as I had the same problem. I too am an Auto-Entrepreneur and tried everything but after two years trying, I mentioned this to my French friend. We were in our Doctor’s surgery. She mentiond to my doctor and ‘Viola’ the result was astounding!! It was a simple solution. Your telephone your local office and once again you explain your situation followed by that you are now going to make a complaint to the ‘Tribunal Administrative’ as they witholding your right to a Carte Vitale. We did this and said that this was ‘discrimination’ and immediately, my friend was passed over to a Supervisor. She gaves us her name and direct telephone number and assured us I would have my CV within two weeks. I received it within 10 days!! After two years, this was a result as they do not like any complaints made to the Tribunal Administrative - they are liable to some official action if they are found not to be doing their job properly. Therefore, I can recommend you try this as, like me, you are at the end of your tether. Good luck.

Henry - I know how you feel. I have moved from Uk to France now 3 times and it does get easier -just takes some time thats all. A pack of eejits the lot of them- I'm from Bangor in N.I and as we say it makes you want to gern ....but make sure you take copies of your translated pages- lots of them and if you can, get someone/ a local to accompany you on your visits to the zoo lol -as this does help and gives you some confidence as well. The French also love drama and love a sob story so you could work on your drama skills as well lol. As there is always confusing signals on what is required and what isnt the best thing is to use your local mairie and ask them for a list of what you need or indeed ask on this forum before putting yourself through a lot of wasted time.

where are you in France ? give me a shout if you just want a chat heather x

For what it's worth Henry, my daughter was born in the US and recognized as a French citizen at the French embassy in Washington DC. In spite of the fact that she has a French passport all of her papers have to go through the French immigration service in Nantes.

There is only one way to deal with it, meet them face to face, good luck

To be blunt, Henry, they are clearly annoyed with you and are simply refusing to help, which unfortunately is something you need them to do. Do not refuse to pay, it will make things worse, for you not them. As Brian said, you have to go and see them in person whenever possible, show willing and just grit your teeth. We all know how ridiculous some of the demands can be, and how incredibly frustrating it is, but the only advice I can give is what I tell the children when their teacher is being pedantic - it doesn't matter how stupid you think it is, just do as you are asked; it's a small price to pay to make the bureaucrats happy and your own life easier. If you do play by the (French) rules, if something does go awry you can go full guns at them and will subsequently have the pleasure of watching the full French ire unleashed on a bureaucrat - a VERY pleasurable sight, I can attest!!

I arrived in France in 2000, having been unemployed for a while in UK. Thinking that I did not qualify for a carte vitale I paid cash for all my medical bills.

In 2005 I went to URRSAF in Montpon, spoke to a Mr Tissie who told me to get a letter from the UK stating that I was no longer in the UK system. On receipt of this he filled in a form & my carte vitale arrived 2 weeks later!. I was not working at that time, though.

Welcome to France

Hi Henry, I might be a coward, but I don't know if this is wise. My husband once called the RSI about a cotisation. The (nice) girl said the amount was wrong and that he only had to pay 200 euros. Which he did. One month later he got a new letter with the original amount AND a fine!

Hi Deborah,

Welcome to the club!

We received our original Carte Vitales with no hassle in 2005 after I registered to work her as a "Professional Independant" before the AE scheme was available.

About 18 months ago they stopped working - initially the pharmacy just shrugged their shoulders & gave us our medication - but we decided to apply for new ones - since then we have had to provide assermentee copies of just about every document we possess! The latest request is for an authorised translation of my wife's divorce decree absolute as some bright funcionaire has noticed that when we married her family name was not the same as her nom de jeune fille!

Even the translator is amazed at how long this is all taking and what is being requested - especially since we were already issued with CVs!. There is usually a delay of at least 2 months between us sending each lot of information and the request coming through for the next bit.

We intend to celebrate when they eventually arrive but we are not making any firm plans!

With my late wife we decided to come to France when she was 62, and with cancer, on a week’s notice. I faxed the local GP and hospital, got the English doctors to write letters and we arrived. She was being treated, 100% paid, within two days.I was still working in London, weekly commuting from France, but we were both given CVs immediately. I was paying PAYE/NIC at the time.However that was 2005. Things have changed due to public pressure (as in the UK but that seems a softer touch). When much later my new wife arrived here we had a very difficult time with a Carte Sejour (she’s not from the EU) and had to use a lawyer and approach my helpful senateur. We were insulted by a woman in the Service des Etrangers in Paris who made it clear she hated all etrangers! My wife is about to initaite an application for French nationality- it will be interesting but we anticipate difficulties. When I approached our small mairie on the subject I was told (wrongly) that to apply for French nationality you first have to give up your old one (ie potentially become stateless!). Unfortunately many officials in France are not up to date with legislation or ignorant of the procedures because they have never done them. Like all ignorant people the world over they don’t like to admit their ignorance! One only wishes they would find out the real position before handing out wrong advice. They do have lovely pensions though!

Hi Henry,

I fully understand your we have gone through the exactly same thing!

My husband was registered as an EURL and has waited 17 months for his carte vitale. In the process we have asked ourselves the same questions as you do and especially "why *** did we come to this country?'

Same story: sent all the necessary paperwork with certified translations (which was easier for us as I am a certified translator), except for the birth certificate which in Holland is issued in 4 languages (one of which is French). But RSI kept on demanding more paperwork. All sent. Then exact same demands from RAM. Told them that we'd sent it all RSI, but that didn't do of course, so sent everything AGAIN to RAM (I believe RAM is the executive organ of RSI, but they don't seem to communicate very well). Then new demand from RSI: we want a certified translation of the birth certificate. Um, excuse me, is IS ALREADY IN FRENCH (amongst other languages) just read a little bit further than the first word you lazy dog! At this stage, my husband got so angry that he wrote an e-mail in capital letters stating that he had sent everything twice, that the birth certificate was in French and that they had better do their work properly and that he didn't want to be bothered anymore. Upon this, he got the attestation and 5 months later the carte vitale. Conclusion: 1-In France you often have to shout to get something and make people realize you're serious. 2- keep copies of everything, preferably scanned, so that you can send things twice, thrice, etc.

BTW: an Italian friend of ours waited 2 years for his carte vitale (he was registered as an AE)... just before he moved to another country one month later ;-).

So, just keep the spirits up! ;-)

Thanks Clare, interesting and disturbing in equal measure.

I have no idea how these different departments work or what their remits are. If I had some concept of hierachy or structure, I might be able to make some progress.

I have my social security number, immatriculation number, INSEE number etc.

RAM were never on the scene until recently, all of my correspondence was with RSi, now RAM's name has appeared on the recent letters. It's as though my previous correspondence has just disappeared....

It's a shame that France's public sector cuts seem to be reducing teachers and not flattening these stupid B88dy Vogons!!