Tuesday, February 21, 2012

our first encounter with French bureaucracy!!!

Today we had set aside to begin to tell the French authorities of our permanent presence in their country...I have to be really honest and say I was dreading it because we had heard about and read about the kind of tangles that can ensue! So today was approached with just a few nerves!
First, we thought we would try the bank in Cluny. We have had an account there since October 2005, but always the statements were sent to our English address, and we reflected afterwards that there was no evidence for them that we even had a home in the area!
We waited to meet the counter clerk - no English of course, and why should he, we are in France after all. We explained we were now living here in France and asked for our address to be changed so we could receive our paper work here and not in England. Well, his face fell! He wanted proof of our address in France but our bills all had the English address on them although they referred to the French property...it didn't help until Joe eventually reached out of his large black attache case the deeds of the property here and a bill from the insurance last year when we first registered as a chambre d'hote and had to pay the equivalent of public liability insurance.  Even though it was more than 3 months old which is what the regulations seem to state, he took it, photocopied it all returned it to us and then explained that the computers were down today so he could not actually amend our account at the moment. The new cheque book will take about 10 days to arrive (French cheque books are still widely used in France and never require a cheque card as it is a criminal offence to write a cheque for which you do not have the funds in the bank!). He shook hands with us and bade us "bonne journee". Phew, that was hard! Next we decided that since the Tresorie Publique was in the same street we would inform them too that now we were domiciled in France. Oh dear, another problem. Now we are here we are of course subject to French taxes which are demanded in May, and cover the period of the previous year. No problem there, but the form for the tax is not available until the end of April and we will need to complete this as we no longer will pay British tax on our pensions or any income accrued from the chambre d'hote. So we were told to go away and return at may be the end of April!!!!
Next we decided that we would go for it by driving into Macon and registering for the French health service. We had already been in contact with the Department for Work and Pensions who had sent out paperwork here to await our arrival. We were told there would be a need to take identity ...so again in a bit of trepidation (mine not Joe's - I worry about everything!!) we found CPAM - that's the assurance maladie in Macon. We waited and explained in our best and simplest French that we were English and had come to live permanently here and we had paperwork. The lady behind the desk told us to wait in the waiting area and we would be seen. Sure enough after about 10 minutes we were ushered into an office and a very efficient civic servant (foncionere in French) asked for paper work and more paperwork - birth certificates, marriage certificates - all photocopied and returned. Then she said we had work to do, we were each given a form to complete - here we go, we thought!
A woman in France always has to give her maiden name and then lower down the form to whom she is married. I found that very odd! The phrase in French always puzzles me a bit - it is jeune fille - young lady - and I am only now beginning to realise it means your name when you were young!!!
We also had to give our fathers' Christian name and surname and also our mothers; too. The place of our birth as well as the date. We had to state if we were in receipt of pensions and how long had we been receiving them. Fortunately proof was not required for this as that paperwork is in a warehouse in Wolverhampton awaiting transporting here!
Anyway, we got to the end of the form then we had to write where we were completing it and the date and then signed it. Madame was satisfied, and she stamped all over the documents and then told us that we would be hearing from them within the next 4 to 6 weeks. It's a good job we have been this week as I think I just have enough medication to last that length of time. Oh, she also required our bank details because in France you pay for the treatment in full then a proportion is refunded directly into the bank account. After half an hour in there we rewarded ourselves with a quick lunch and then we went to collect and pay for our new television. It's now back in the house and unpacked but as yet we haven't worked out how to set up the satellite dish - that is proving very difficult as it has to be set at a very specific angle to pick up Astra so we can watch BBC. So it's another night with the laptop and the radio for us - perhaps we will start Lent not only giving up something, but watching a bit of TV!!!!!
The next challenge will be the registration of the car - and that will be expensive....good job it's pension day tomorrow!

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