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.