Getting our travel Visas

If you intend to stay in France for more than three months you need a long-stay travel Visa. That’s unless you have an EC passport, like my husband, who has Irish ancestry. Luck of the Irish indeed. The list of requirements for said Visa was as long as my arm – and I’m a long-limbed girl.

Because we travel to the States quite a bit, and were selling a property there, I needed to time the application perfectly, since they would need my passport for more than two weeks. You can’t apply until 6 weeks before your trip, and processing can take 10 business days. If you screw up your documents, you can’t apply again for a full month. Plus, you need a Paris address and we didn’t have one. There was a looming mail strike, and by now, our Vancouver house was leased out for a year and we were of no fixed address. Not to mention that both my and Emmanuelle’s passport would expire next summer and needed to be renewed to meet the three month plus a year requirement of the travel Visa. And my driver’s licence was expiring at the same time, so I’d have no Picture ID for several weeks. And if the mail strike happened, who knew where everything would end up? The criminal record checks I underwent (full fingerprinting, national RCMP clearance) were fairly routine and took only a week or so. I needed three months of bank statements stamped by my bankers, and two copies of each for myself and the girls. This was about 100 pages of paperwork in itself.

With all the moving parts in our household, timing the statements to dates where we actually had money in our accounts was tricky. I was either at our Credit Union getting bank drafts or accessing our safety deposit box, or at UPS, scanning, couriering and photocopying every day for a month. I was on a first name basis with the UPS guy, and usually waiting on the sidewalk when he got to work. Getting a stamped affadavit from a Notary Public that I swore not to work while in Paris might have been the most pleasurable part of the entire process.

The morning I finally arrived at the French embassy with my three thick dossiers of documents for my back-to-back appointments for our three Visas, I was beside myself. “Calm down,” Murray said, “it’ll be fine,” as he took calls on his cell phone outside. The well-coiffed French bureaucrat barely glanced at it all as I handed the dockets in the specified order, with no paper clips, one by one through the glass. “Oh, it’s your daughter’s birthday today!” was all he said. Five days later we had our Visas.