Help, I'm sinking

(Warning soul-bearing post)

OK. My first big wobbly.

We’ve done our research. We’ve done the reading. We’ve thought about moving for years, and then suddenly it’s imminent.

Everything looks complicated. So much to do here and I don’t even know where to start in France. I looked at some of the questions and replies in ‘Friendly Advice Bureau’ group and have run away again. We think we’ll get our LHD car in the UK if we can, but do we have to start the import process straight away, or do we get a few wekks/months grace? We have a 10-year old motor home too - LHD, made by Hymer, which was imported to UK rom Germany originally (before we had it) - is it really a nightmare to get it registered?

Since I don’t want to fall foul of the French tax system, I think I want to register as autoentrepreneur - I make hats/jewellery and at present have an Etsy site, but will aim to get my own dedicated one, although I would like to try to find real people (rather than virtual ones) to sell to. Also I am a piano/violin teacher -and would like to continue once my language skills are better, or even put years of class teaching and tutoring to use by teaching English 1:1. How quickly do I have to sort the auto entrepreneur- bit out?

Ray will be working for single UK company, and will have to register as ‘something’ - probably not as Autoentrepreneur - has that all got to be in place before we start?

What about Health insurance (Is this top up?) and registering with a doctor? - I’m not pensionable yet, but am on permanent meds for high blood pressure /cholesterol and am hoping nice GB doc will give me enough advance to give a few months leeway, but after that…

As for all the other insurances…

And how does anyone know we are here? I mean, coming to France as UK citizen /European doesn’t require registration or permission does it?

My French is neither débutante, nor éxperte, and I do not expect the French to speak English for me - why should they? but am already overwhelmed, and this is just by reading about other people’s experiences.

I feel like such a wimpy idiot soon-to-be ExPat and suddenly it’s not quite so exciting.

Sooooooooooo, I’m guessing most of you have been here. Perhaps you’ve gone through all this. Perhpas you didn’t have to, but if anyone can ferret out the questions from this, please help.

Need to explain that by saying ‘round here’ I meant those over here in the UK who have the conversations about understanding. Not ‘round here’ as in SFN.
Trying really hard not to cause any offence.

I was just panicking that everything needed to be done at once. I need to get hold of the manana way of thinking I suppose. Everything just looks like a minefield, with plenty to trip us up. Not loving the thought of all the bureaucracy to be encountered just to stay afloat.
Thanks for all the advice, Suzanne.

Ok- so many replies coming in - plenty to think about - and I am very grateful. Wrists slapped - but there’s so much else going on - including a snotty estate agent here, who seems to have forgotten who actually is paying his salary - so be gentle with me, please.
I don’t need to feel worse about things than I already do.

Thank you Jeanette. I always reckon that those around here who say they understand everything might just be telling little porkies… we (one) works out what what you’re (one) is going to say - and then you get the answer…
But yes, i have been working hard on bringing my French back from 40 years ago and use on holidays only. ‘Marie-Claude is sitting next to Jean-Pierre’ is not altogether helpful. But hey, ‘My trailer has a hairline fracture and needs welding’ has been a much more useful phrase. As has ‘Our timing belt is broken’…

they don’t even know what Blackberry’s are round our way. The young uns have Iphones (most with broken screens).

exactly… though my husband has taken it to a new level wandering round Revel with his blackberry permanently linked to Google Translate… i thought they recognized me because i was nice, or my dog was grumpy, turns out it’s becuause I’m Madamme Blackberry…

that’s a great reply jeanette - and great advice - we always go armed with written translations if your french is dreadful and if anything is particularly specific - my starter motor was crocked in my car - so we thought we’d need a new one - so much easier to go with the right words! (in the end the darling garage CLEANED it - bless them, bless them)
it’s also nice to be polite when people take the time out to help you… that’s you I’m talking to Judy

Hi judy… like you i had a near nervous breakdown when we moved, but that was mainly about the size of the truck taking our worldly goods south - and what to do if it wouldn’t fit… and the logistics of people renting our uk house… aggggh…

We moved in April - and four months on it’s fantastic, amazing, wonderful.

In a nutshell, the way we did it was to buy ourselves time - we opened a french but english speaking bank account in the uk, we got the docs to give us 4 months of meds, we got insurance for our cars and the certificates of conformity, we found english speaking numbers for orange (phone and internet) edf (power) sfr (mobile phones) and a lovely estate agent. we’ve done all our french insurances with the lovely helpful bank - yes, they’re more expensive and in a year or 2 we’ll probably change, but the headache of shopping around is bad enough in the uk never mind a foreign country. we’ve imported our cars now - not hard if you’re organised and great practice for your french (plaque d’immatriculation is quite a tongue twister)

i think the best advice is that you are a European! you’re allowed to be here! try to speak french with everyone and tell them why you’ve moved… all our neighbours are pleased and proud we decided to come

bon chance

La Maison Verdigris

I went to Axa on my search for insurance and they tried to charge me and arm and a leg…after walking through Aubusson (which is probably where you’ll go) and trying numrous agents I found Groupama to be the cheapest


For Auto-Entrepreneur & advice around your husband’s business set up I’d recommend looking at as Valerie is an expert in this & it will avoid you getting conned (Teresa on SFN has unfortunately found herself a victim recently). Your husband may have a few issues to sort out regarding working for a single UK company if he is actually working in France (My understanding is URSSAF would want social charges from the UK company if the work is done in France…but this can be avoided so best get proper advice on this)

For Healthcare I think it’s the E106 but if you are registering to work then you don’t need these as you will be covered from the time you register with AE. Healthcare is automatically sorted out for you via AE although it could take a long time for your Carte Vitales to come through (currently I’ve been waiting 18m! but others have had theirs sooner) You can get an attestation de sante (which is basically a certificate of your right to healthcare which u will need to show each time you go to the Dr, Pharmacy, Laboratory etc though you may have to pay (we pay at our Dr & then reclaim) so always ensure you have a feuille de soin (official receipt for any treatment issued by GP, Pharmacy, other auxiliary etc).

For Cars you could try Stuart Collins who insure through AXA UK giving you a 1 year automatic Green card for your car as long as your car is in the UK for 1 day a year. AXA France will offer insurance of British plated cars but they do need you to re-register quickly (our agent said he would need to redo the insurance on a monthly basis).

We bought a LHD car in the UK (loads cheaper & worth more in Euros than we paid in Sterling a year ago!) The important things to consider are that the headlights are either already EU compatible with a switch or that you can easily find a set of EU headlights in France (see other threads on SFN about this). Also to check that you can get hold of a certificate of conformity as this is also needed to register your car & have a controle technique (CT - equivalent of MOT). My advice would be to buy yourself some time & get the 1 year insurance sorted so you can deal with all the other admin processes first & get your car sorted later.


Thanks Christa.

Thank you, Jacqueline - I’m so glad I found this place when I did!
We’d planned to find an AXA agent - anyone know any English-speaking ones in Limousin/Creuse?

Judy I think a lot of us will know exactly how you are feeling! I am not an expert in any of your questions, but have experienced most of the situations and my first bit of advice is don’t panic. For tax purposes, unless it has changed in the last 7 years, the French won’t be interested in you until you have been here for a full tax year (Jan to Dec) - for you this will probably be at the end of 2012. In our experience the first visit to the doctor involved a full medical, and as long as you have copies of the prescriptions from UK (or boxes of your pills) they will be able to prescribe what you need without any hassle. You will need to get into the French healthcare system, for us we took our UK forms (forget what they were called, but got them from Newcastle!!!) to AXA, they helped get the green cards (French healthcare Carte Vitelle) and talked us through top up insurance. We still have a RHD car and don’t find it a problem on the French roads - sorting out the re-registering took us about 2 weeks, but most French insurance companies will give you 3 months. It is daunting, but not too bad, frustrating sometimes, but you will be able to look back and chuckle at your language slip ups or the stoney faced bureaucrat and when you are sitting in the sun with a glass of wine it will all seem worth it. Good luck.