The first step. You go to your local branch of the CPAM to get your Secu, the French basic public insurance [Info to U.S. readers: pure socialism], and ask what papers you need to provide. We got a list, put the documents together, and send them in. The odd thing in France is that they are processed not in the local branch, but are outsourced to some company (sorts-of).
Step 2: Waiting for Godot. Three months later, our documents were all send back again to us, unprocessed, because there was something missing. The demand could not be processed because we did not fill out/include a sheet that had become obsolete January 2016, when the process changed. Including for citizens of other EU countries. As you could read on the backside of the main document, one has to fill out! Being up-to-date with their own legislation is obviously not in the contract of the company that does the administration for the Secu. Private service is always better, right? Not if the state and its people are your customer. When will we ever learn?
Step 3: Start again at zero. So, off-again to our local branch. In France, it’s always better to do things in person. And just started over again, to not complicate things (it's a form of art how to complain in French, don't do it as a non-native speaker). This time, the lady directly registered the demand and the documents we brought (not demanding filling out the obsolete sheet, of course). Why this was not done the first time we went there, I have no idea.
And it was surprisingly easy, only a few little hick-ups. The sheet informing about the end of my Austrian social insurance coverage was only in German (naturally), but we got away without having a certified French translation. Lucky us. But … little shock … I needed to document when I entered, physically, France to live here.
My bewildered answer to the clerk: How should I do this?
Clerk — How did you come here?
Me — By plane from Vienna.
Clerk — So there’s a stamp in your passport.
Me — Errr, no. European Union, Schengen Zone, no border controls (since 1995, by the way).
Clerk — Oh, yes, it has been changed.
Me — (Don't say anything...stop thinking)
A thing to be learned here: when you visit France, don’t complain about so few people willing to speak English. Most of them like the CPAM clerk never left their country (at least not in the last 20 years; Trivia: the sitting French president would commit treason if spending his holidays outside France!), and in France there is no point in talking English (also the English, they teach at most public schools here, may sound sexy, but that’s it). And if you need something exotic for holiday, you still have the French-speaking colonies, sorry, oversea departments and friend-states of Francafrique.
Step 4: Waiting again. All done and back in the pipe. One month goes; two go; you get a little nervous; you start losing hope (the missing French translation of the Austrian document) and expect that all will come back again, unprocessed.
Step 5: Done! After another three months of waiting – while watching a conservative Wauwau’s (German for cute doggies) barking about how easy it is for everyone to get into the French social systems; yes, tell me... (of course, like the Big Baby in the Oval Office, the Wauwau is not concerned with immigrating Germans, or Norwegians, but those other people from South/Southeast of the EU) – I finally got a letter including my social security number. My forth! Now I have a German, Swedish, Austrian and French number. Isn’t is lovely, this European “Union”? Well, it could be, but it'd need be a union, not only a common market.
|A most important thing for living in France: the Carte Vitale (literally 'life card')|
In the letter it said, that I would have 15 days to hand in a picture and a copy of my “identity card”. Well, as a German, I don’t get a French identity card, but anyway (by the way, in Sweden, you can). The letter dated to the Dec 6th, it arrived on Dec 12th. No stamp on it, delivered by the French national post (La Poste). Seems they still work with horse carriages as in the good old days of l'empire (the Bourbon or Napoleonic) …
The letter announces that there is a simple, quick, and recommended way. I just can go online and hand in picture and copy, using the online system with the beautiful name ameli (and yes, in case you wonder, all French homepages look like this; for comparison: here’s the Swedish counterpart, which, naturally, you can change to English via the menu).
But to register for the online system, you need a social insurance number. Having finally one, I registered and …
Confirmation de ma demande Votre demande d'adhésion au compte ameli est prise en compte. Vous recevrez votre code provisoire par courrier postal sous 8 jours.Eight days to generate a code and send it via La Poste.
Really quick … and probably too late, 6 + 15 = December 21st, 12 + 8 = earliest December 20th.
Thanks to the splendid French way of not-organising things, I had to take the non-recommended, “slow” way of sending picture and copy via mail, the said La Poste. Did it the next day (Dec 13th).
Step 7: Waiting a last time. I finally got my Carte Vitale. Second week of January. And, just one day after I received my provisory code to access the online platform ameli…
But Jupiter Macron, our demigod-like president (well, not mine; being German only living in France, I have no right to vote at the national level) will make this all much more efficient. By reducing the number of public servants by a couple of ten thousand. Likely by outsourcing more public services, as already done in case of the Secu, to highly efficient private companies. All to make France great again! Yes, he said this in his 2018 New Year’s address, among other things, since he's not a chauvinist like fellow presidents with nuclear weapons.
PS In case you don't know (in the unlikely event one of this blog's readers share the genius of the U.S. president): the reason why so few people immigrate these days immigrate from Norway to the U.S. is that the latter is – in many aspects, but in particular regarding social security and standard – indubitably a shithole compared to Norway. If Sweden is the only existing truly socialistic state, Norway may be the only truly communist 😇