Proof of residency and length of time property owned

We have owned our property for 8 years and have just moved to France permanently a couple of weeks ago. Do we still have to wait for the three months or will we be able to use existing bills which were sent to our English address (but obviously show the appropriate French address)?

Owning a property and residency are two different things. A utility bill confirms that you have a valid address but not that you are resident.


As David says. I think producing bills mailed to you at an English address would be kinda counter productive in trying to prove you were living in France :wink:



You have given this thread the title “Proof of Residency…” and yet you have only been here a couple of weeks.

When we first arrived… I was laughed-at (in a nice way) when I started doing things too early. You might change your mind… someone said… Come back in a few months… another said… No use me explaining that we had no property in UK and that we were definitely here to stay…:innocent:



Stella, I do like your down-to-earth advice, delivered in angelic tones :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: to those of us trying to find our feet without stepping too heavily on the toes of others :innocent:

I enquired timidly at the Marie about proof of residence, as the previous foreign occupant of our property had a letter of attestation signed by the maire. A lady on the reception counter told me that the maire no longer supplied this service. I get the impression that some of the services once provided by the mairie are perhaps regarded as a bit stuffy and redundant by the maire and his busy staff. Officials we’ve met generally ask us if we are domiciled in France, and seem to take our word for it. This has been the case at the local conventionee doctor’s cabinet, the bank, the CPAM and when we bought and registered a new car an internet provider on-line bill was accepted without question as proof of domicile.

Am I right in thinking things may be changing? BTW we live in rural Normandy in a town of 2,500 inhabitants.

Come to that, Stella and other SF stalwarts, how does one prove residency if ever called upon to do so? And who is likely to want us to produce it?

If I had to ‘prove’ my initial date of residency I would refer back to the day that I wrote on my first tax return.

Yep - copies of your Avis d’Imposition for income tax / social charges will do the job.

Hi Peter…

With regards to the Mairie… things have indeed changed and are still on the move…but, the Mairie is still one of the best ports of call (for advice at least) in many cases. What did the Secretary suggest for your situation, Peter. Normally, our lady will tell us where to go (politely) if she is unable to help…

The last Proof of Residence letter I heard someone enquire about… must have been about 5 years ago…and that request came in a roundabout way from a Notaire’s office…:wink:

There are many tasks which the Mairie’s Secretary will do willingly (if time permits)… but with the workload getting heavier and heavier (trust me) they are gradually offloading many of the “extras” back to where they should be…perhaps a Notaire… perhaps someone else… but even so…good advice should always be given.:grinning:

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As you’ll come to appreciate the longer you live here, each administrative body will make its own decision on what is acceptable to them and what isn’t, depending on how important your residency status is to them and regardless of what other organisations may have decided. If you have a titre de séjour, that will normally be universally accepted, but a letter from your mairie does not have any official standing (your mairie actually has no way of checking your residency status as they don’t have access to central records, and everyone knows this) and is therefore unlikely to carry any weight in important matters, which is presumably why mairies stopped issuing them. In terms of registering a car, residency isn’t important; all the prefecture needs to confirm is that you have an address in France to which any speeding fines etc can be sent. Equally, a motor dealer selling you a car couldn’t care less whether you are resident or not, they just need a valid address. But for CPAM and other social security agencies, your residency status is crucial because the law says that visitors cannot be accepted into the French social security system; the law also says that an EU citizen can remain in France for up to 3 months as a visitor; ergo, in order to be sure that they are not accepting visitors into the system, CPAM must ensure that you have been here for longer than 3 months and therefore can no longer be officially classed as a visitor.

As said, it’s your avis d’impôt that are the ultimate proof of residency, they are what sorts the sheep from the goats because everyone who lives in France has to take part in the annual tax exercise, therefore if you live in France you’ll have one for each year of residence and if you don’t you won’t. For the really heavy stuff, like applying for a carte de séjour, that is specifically what you are expected to produce.

BTW I’m not sure what you mean by your doctor’s practice accepting that you are domiciled in France. Anyone, whether resident or not, can visit any doctor in France, there is no need to “register”. But you can only ask a doctor to be your “médecin traitant” and claim reimbursements if you have a carte vitale - which clearly you don’t yet have.

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Thank you Anna, you’re clearly another distinguished guide to those of us who have a lot to learn, and are willing to do that. Your opening observation on residency being very much a local matter confirms our own impressions. Although new to France, I have lived abroad (In Africa) for many years and have some awareness of the immigrant’s need for sensitive and gradual adaptation to place and people. A little experience of gardening and of animal husbandry helps too, you may agree.

I shall correct any impression I gave of not having the Carte Vitale, we do have these, and we are both registered to pay our taxes here. We found both the officials and clients waiting at the tax office rather jolly and the process was much simpler than we feared it might be; our expectations were a bit anxious as we read gloomily through web-pages and articles in ‘Connexion’ on filling in the various forms. But the reality was friendly and reassuring. Indeed this has been our experience of France and its people since we arrived, it’s a great feeling.

Thank you again.

Thanks again, Stella. The mairie is less than five minutes walk from where we live. There are two ladies on the reception desk attending to the needs of people, and they are always helpful. I’ve asked some odd questions of them: about collecting cork bouchons for the local maison de retraite where they’re put to some mysterious therapeutic use; about the hours within which one may use power tools or mowers in the garden; about turning off the water supply to our house in the event of a burst pipe (the tap in our cellar was removed when the mains were re-laid recently); the possible history of large worked stone slabs buried in our garden; home delivery of the commune’s newsletter.

All were answered with interest and we get a friendly smile if we meet each other in the street. It’s that sort of town.

What advice did we get at the mairie about proof of domicile? The lady suggested a utility bill. The problem with these is that they produced on-line and often at infrequent e.g. six-monthly intervals because we pay by monthly bank debit. Taxe fonciere and taxe habitatrion bills are produced annually and, as we know, bills have to be less than three months old to be valid. It’s never an insuperable problem, but it can be very inconvenient at times if one wants to subscribe to a service, or change a supplier at short notice, and a contract depends on proof of domicile.

Sorry! my bad, I simply assumed that the reference in your first post to “waiting for three months” was in connection with applying for PUMA, because I can’t offhand think of any other context where you would find yourselves needing to prove 3 months residency.

Regarding being “registered to pay taxes” - in fact, tax residency for any given year can only be determined retrospectively when it can be confirmed by facts that you either have or haven’t met the criteria. If as you say you only arrived permanently a couple of weeks ago, then you haven’t yet met the criteria for tax residence for this year, so even though you have made contact with the tax office and told them your intentions, your status won’t officially be changed to resident on the computer and you won’t be issued with all your taxpayer numbers until your first tax return has been submitted, accepted and processed. So don’t rely on them sending out the forms next April, the chances are that they’ll have forgotten you exist and you’ll have to go in and ask, or download them when the time comes.

I’m also in Normandy and like you I’ve always found everyone very co-operative and helpful. And your comment on waiting at the tax office made me smile - I once had a truly surreal conversation with a chap who came and sat next to me at Argentan tax office, by the end of which I wasn’t sure whether he was pulling my leg and inventing all kinds of stuff to test how credulous an anglaise can be, or whether his head was on another planet, or whether just maybe he really had had an incredibly amazing life - soldier, sailor, explorer, hero, inventor … hmm.

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Gracious Peter… you have certainly been putting the Ladies at your Mairie through their paces…with a wide range of questions…

Electricity Board bills… can be replaced with the printout showing your up-to-date payment sheet… it’s somewhere on the Personal Account with EDF… i’m not using the correct wording, but I’m sure you get the idea.

I was informed that this would be acceptable, as I was not able to produce the “within 3 month Bill” . I found it, printed it out and it was all OK… that was last year…and I cannot even think why it was necessary… (sign of an ageing brain perhaps :wink:)

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Telecoms bills are normally sent monthly and are normally accepted.

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My problem is that not all ourUtility bills have the right name(s) on them… but the EDF one is absolutely spot on…:wink:

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I may have confused things by butting in on Judith’s initial question: it’s Judith who said she’s been here a couple of weeks ago after being a home-owner for eight years. My wife and I bought property here in October 2015 but decided to make it our principal residence in July 2016, so we’ve been here 18 months altogether, bar a few fairly short return trips to UK moving bits and pieces.

It’s likely the ladies in the Mairie thought I was a bit odd, but I like to get well-acquainted with a place and the people in it, and I did need to put my ‘language skills’ to the test. These were based almost entirely on reading Moliere and Alain Fournier at school in the mid 1950s so “spooked” would be a better description of how the ladies in the mairie felt about my popping in to ask about buried slabs…:scream:

I used to read all the notices posted in the windows of the Mairie…trying to improve my understanding of written French… it was quite baffling at times… and the folk at the Mairie got used to me quizzing them…:grin:

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Doh yes you’re absolutely right I was confused. The senior moments are taking over, very soon it’ll be the junior moments that are the exception :blush:

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