That’s “serious” as in “Yes, we too want to move to France!” This page is a cheat sheet of the steps we went through once we decided that we were definitely going to make the move. The details for each step will be found in our blog posts; this page might be your checklist of what needs to be done and in what order. We will continue to update this page as we complete another step but we can’t guarantee that it’s an exhaustive list. See you over there!
Navigation tip: To read all of the blog posts in chronological order, please click on the link below that will take you to the very first post entitled This is where it all started. After you have read that post, scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will see NEXT: France it is, but why and where? which is the second post. You will find NEXT and PREVIOUS at the bottom of each post. When you want to pause your reading, keep track of the title of that blog post so that you can look for it in the Search this blog box when you return. Ready for the first post?
Getting a visa
- Determine which French consulate covers your state.
- Print out a list of all the required documents that your consulate requests.
- Gather all of the required documents and have them translated, if necessary.
- Make your visa appointment at the consulate.
- Secure your accommodations and get a lease/mortgage.
- Buy your airline ticket.
- Buy your medical insurance and get a confirmation of coverage letter.
Getting ready to move
- Sell, give away, or donate everything that you’re not taking with you.
- Sell your house.
- Find temporary living arrangements in the US, if necessary
- Sell your car
- Make wire transfer arrangements with your bank
If you are taking a pet
- Confirm with your airline that your pet can travel with you in the cabin or as checked baggage on the same plane with you. When we investigated sailing on the Queen Mary II from New York to Southampton, England, their on-board kennels had booked up over a year in advance, so that was not an option for us.
- Get a microchip and a rabies shot at least 21 days before leaving.
- Have your vet fill out the appropriate documents for export
- Get your state USDA office to certify that your pet is ready to travel, not more than 10 days before you leave.
- This is the email we have sent to others taking a pet to France.
Once you arrive
- Get your passport stamped by the Immigration officer to show the date you entered France.
- Mail the residence form that the consulate in the US returned with your visa, to the OFII (immigration office) that has jurisdiction over your new home town.
- Attend the medical exam that the OFII has scheduled for you.
- Safeguard the titre de séjour (residence permit) sticker that the OFII will place in your passport since that proves your legal status in France for the remaining validity of your visa.
Two months before your visa/titre de séjour expires
- Assemble the documents that your local prefecture requires to process your request for a carte de séjour. This carte will replace your visa/titre de séjour. The list of requirements might appear on the prefecture’s website or you may have to visit their office in person.
- Take all of the documents, including your completed application for the carte de séjour, to the prefecture’s office. If you paperwork is accepted, they will notify you via SMS, email or letter to come back to their office to pick up your carte or some offices may mail it to you. This is an annual process that must be completed until you qualify for the 10-year residency card or become a French citizen. If your renewal period encompasses a long holiday break (for us it’s the Christmas/New Year holidays) you may want to apply that much earlier.