Frequently Asked Questions
A - THE FRENCH CONSULATE IN LONDON
B - REGISTRATION IN THE FRENCH CITIZENS REGISTER
C- CHANGES TO YOUR SITUATION
D - PASSPORT
E- FRENCH NATIONAL IDENTITY CARD
F- THE LAISSEZ-PASSER
G- THEFT OF LOSS OF PASSPORT OR ID CARD
H- ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES
I - FULL COMPLETE BIRTH CERTIFICATE
J- THE HONORARY CONSULS
K - FORMALITIES FOR UNDER 18s
Please refer to the FAQ before contacting us. Most queries are covered in it.
What is a consulate?
The consulate offers similar services as a “prefecture” or a town hall for the French visiting or living abroad.
The French consulate in London is one the top consulates in the world. The French community registered in the French Citizens Register for its area is about 120 000, but this doesn’t take into account the French who don’t register, therefore, it is fair to think that the community is a lot larger.
The French consulate in London is responsible for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as Jersey and Guernsey, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
The French living or visiting Scotland and the Isle of Man must register with the French general consulate in Edinburgh.
What does the Consul do?
The Consul administers the French community, and protects its citizens, in accordance with the laws of the host country.
He issues French national cards and passports and registers the French in the French Citizens Register.
He also organises electoral lists and conducts the elections held in the French Consulate.
He is the registrar of births, marriages and deaths.
He is also a consular notary. Please note that since 2005, the notary activities in the EU Consulates are limited to “PACS” and the legalisation of signature.
How can the Consulate help if there is a problem?
In case of arrest and imprisonment, the consulate can ask authorisation to visit you or ask authorisation for your relatives to visit. It can offer a list of lawyers, but you will have to pay for their service.
In case of a serious accident, if it has sufficient information, the consulate informs your family and the French Foreign Office.
In case of death, the consulate informs your family, and it can help with formalities to repatriate the body, but it does not pay for it.
In case of illness, the consulate can give you a list of doctors.
What the consulate cannot help you with?
The consulate cannot issue immediate replacement for passports or ID cards in case or loss or theft.
It cannot repatriate you for free, and cannot pay your debts or expenses.
The consulate cannot offer a 24h service and cannot help you with administrative procedures.
The consulate cannot intervene in your favour with the police or the justice to obtain your release if you are involved in a crime or a criminal action.
Why is the registration useful?
The registration facilitates the administrative procedures, the access to services linked to living abroad (i.e. request of school grants for your children, registration on an electoral consular roll, and vote for the election of the representatives of the French Living Abroad, the presidential election and referendums). You can also benefit from the Consular protection.
If you are registered you pay discounted fees when you request official documents (excluded passports or ID cards), and you can request a change of residence certificate for the French customs when you leave the UK.
The registration also helps to understand how many French live abroad.
Once registered, you will receive a consular card that is valid for 5 years certifying that you are under the protection of the French consulate.
What to do when you change address?
If you move or change your e-mail address you can modify your file yourself by logging onto the changement d’adresse section on the home page of the website. You can also send us a letter with a copy of your ID (passport or ID card) and proof of your new address (utility bills).
What to do when you leave the country to return to France?
If you leave the UK to return to France, you need to send a letter to the consulate with a copy of your ID card or your passport, and your consular card. If needed, the consulate can provide you with a certificate for your change of address, or a certificate of deletion of record and change of address.
If you leave for another country, you just need to tell the French consulate where you will live.
What happens to my documents when my situation changes?
If your situation changes, you need to let the consulate know and present the written proof of the changes (i.e. marriage certificate, divorce judgement, death certificate, etc). Then the procedure to renew your documents with accurate information would start.
What is a passport? Where can I ask for a passport?
A passport is an official document issued by the French Administration, when living abroad the consulate/embassy issues it. It proves your identity and allows you to travel abroad outside the EU.
The “biometric” passport contains a chip with personal information that protects it from fraud.
Parents who are applying for a passport for their child under 6, must check their heights and colour of the eyes before applying, as this information will be on the passport.
How long does it take to get a passport?
It can take several weeks to issue a passport as they are all produced in France. The consulate cannot intervene in the process of making the passport, therefore it is strongly advised to request it early enough to avoid disappointment if you have to travel.
What is the procedure to collect a passport?
The passport holder, whatever his/her age, must come in person to collect his/her new passport, and must return the previous one, as it belongs to the French State.
Parents or legal guardians of under 18s must bring their family book or any documentation proving parental authority.
If you have not collected your passport within 3 months of the “ready” date click here to know if it is ready to collect, it will be destroyed.
You don’t need an appointment to collect your passport, but it will be only given in the afternoon:
Monday to Thursday: 12.30pm to 4.45pm
Friday: 12.30pm to 3pm
Why is an adult passport valid longer than a child one’s?
Children undergo fast physical changes; therefore it is easy to identify them when their passport is renewed every 5 years.
What is a national identity card? Where can I request it?
The national identity card is an official document issued by the French Administration, by the consulate/embassy when you live abroad. It proves your identity and your nationality. It is a very secure document with personal information that protects it from fraud. The national ID card is free and valid or 10 years.
Can I travel with my ID card?
Even though you can travel in numerous countries with the ID card, it is not really a permit to travel. However you can use it to travel within the EU, and to some other countries as well. Check the website for the French Foreign Office: www.diplomatie.gouv.fr
Under 18s travelling with their ID card without their parents or legal guardian must have an authorisation to leave the country. The consulate delivers this authorisation.
How long does it take to have an ID card?
It takes several months to receive an ID card, longer than for a passport.
What is the procedure to collect my ID card?
The applicant must come in person to collect his/her ID card, and must return the previous one as it belongs to the French State.
Children under 18 don’t need to come in person, but parents or legal guardian must bring their family book or any documentation proving the parental authority.
If you have not collected your ID card within 3 months of the “ready” date (click here to know if it is ready to collect), it will be destroyed.
You don’t need an appointment to collect your ID card, but we strongly advise you to come in the afternoon:
Monday to Thursday: 12.30pm to 4.45pm
Friday: 12.30pm to 3pm
What is an authorisation to leave the country?
An authorisation to leave the territory is an official document that allows under 18s, without a passport, but with an ID card, to travel abroad without their parents.
When do I need an authorisation to leave the country?
An authorisation is not always necessary. Only an under 18 who doesn’t hold a passport, and travels without his parents would need the authorisation. Please note that the trip cannot exceed 3 consecutive months.
an under 18 who travels with his ID card, but with a person who has the parental authority, doesn’t need an authorisation to leave the territory.
an under 18 who has a valid passport can leave the UK and travel, even if he is not accompanied with a person who has the parental authority.
Attention: Some Customs officers might ask for a written authorisation from the person holding parental authority, if the under 18 travels alone or with an adult who is not the person with the parental authority. In this case, the parent or legal guardian will attach a copy of the family book or legal document and a copy of this passport or ID card.
The authorisation to leave the country is free and valid for 5 years with a valid ID card.
The laissez-passer is an official document issued by the French consulate to French travellers when their ID card or passport has been stolen or lost and who have to go back to France soon after.
This document can only be used once to go back to France. This is a temporary document.
The document can only be delivered the day before the applicant will be travelling (or during the last day of the week if before a week-end or a bank holiday).
What do I need to do if my ID card or passport is stolen?
You must go the local police station to report it before you come to the consulate. There you will be given a “crime number”. You must then go to the consulate as soon as you can, and follow the procedure to renew your documents.
What do I need to do if I lose my ID card or passport?
You need to go the consulate to report the loss, where you will be given a statement that will allow you to renew your documents.
Why can’t I receive my ID card or passport by mail?
For security reasons, to avoid fraud or theft, you must collect passports and ID card in person.
Why do I need to return my ID card or passport to get the new ones?
These documents belong to the French State, you need to return them even if they are still valid, to collect your new ones.
Why do I need to bring the originals of my documents?
This is mandatory to prevent fraud and identity theft.
When do I need to bring a UK proof of address?
You only need a UK proof of address if you request an ID card as we have to make sure that you live in the UK and that you are under the French consulate authority, it is also to prevent fraud.
Why do I need to provide ID photos to specific norms?
For technical reasons, the size of the ID photo has to be very specific, and it makes it easier to identify the applicant. For younger children, we strongly recommend that you come with your own ID photo as it always very difficult to take it on the premises.
What is a complete copy of the birth certificate? Why do I need it?
The complete copy of the birth certificate is the exact copy of your birth certificate as it was written on the birth register of the town where you were born.
This copy shows all the changes that happened to you in your civil status (marriage, divorce, naturalisation, change or name, PACS, etc). This copy also allows you, in most cases, to prove your nationality.
Please note that the “complete copy” means the original document and not its photocopy.
You must bring this document with any request for ID card or passport.
How do I get a complete copy of the birth certificate?
To obtain a complete copy of your birth certificate, you can:
if you were born in France: contact the town of your place of birth, the request can be made on-line, click here
if you were born abroad: contact the central service of the Registry Office: Service Central de l’Etat Civil, 11 rue de la Maison Blanche, 44941 NANTES CEDEX 09 (click here), or at the consulate of your place of birth
if you were born in the Overseas Communities, contact the Ministère de l’Outre-mer (click here), or the town hall of your place of birth
What is an Honorary Consul?
An Honorary Consul is a volunteer who looks after French citizens living outside Greater London. He works in designated areas of the country and can be French or have another nationality.
When can I contact an Honorary Consul?
If you live in the local area of an Honorary Consul, you can contact him/her to request a French ID card, and collect it from him/her.
What is the difference between a General Consul and an Honorary Consul?
The Honorary Consul doesn’t have the same role as the General Consul, he doesn’t administrate the French community and there are some administrative procedures that he cannot execute depending on their nationality.
Also, he/she can only do procedures that the French consulate can do.
What can do an Honorary Consul?
The honorary Consul has an administrative role. He transfers requests from French citizens such as to be registered in the French Citizens Register, requests for ID cards, transcript of registry office, etc.
You cannot request a passport from an Honorary Consul as the application must be made in person at the French Consulate.
When a request is made for an under 18, do I need to bring additional documents if I am divorced or separated?
The French consulate requests a copy of the judgement in case of a divorce which shows who has parental authority, or a letter from the other parent stating that they agree that the child should have a passport or an ID card requested, and could therefore eventually leave the country.
Can under 18s be on their parent’s passports?
The passport is individual, therefore the under 18s cannot be on the parent’s passports: they must have their own.
However, if your passport was issued before June 12th 2006, and your children under 15 appear on your passport, it will still be valid until its expiry date.
When collecting their passports, the under 18 must come in person with the adult who has parental authority. They will sign their passport if they are at least 13 years old and he/she can do it, otherwise the adult with parental authority must sign.
Is there a particular procedure to follow when asking for a passport or an ID card?
As for an adult, the under 18 must be registered in the Register for French Citizens when applying for an ID card, however, although not compulsory for a passport it is strongly recommended.
When applying, the parents must bring their family book and ID card or passport.
The under 18 must be present when applying because we will be taking their finger prints, but one of their parents or legal guardians can come and collect it if they bring their family book or legal document and ID.
A child under 6 years old doesn’t have to be present when applying for a passport as their fingerprints will not be taken, but he has to come with the parents or legal guardian to collect it.