French bureaucracy is efficient.

10 June 2010

Yes, this is actually true. In the throws of my post dissertation hyperactivity, I did three things this week.
1. I applied for child benefit. This was long overdue, we’ve almost been here for a year, but somehow we had not submitted the forms. So I finally manage to look at the application form, complete it and photocopy all the documents that have to go with it. In France, you have to take these things to a place called CAFCaisses d’Allocations Familiales. I was a bit scared to go there, because of my French and the bureaucrats I would encounter, but it was *FAB*!! The lady at the reception spoke fantastic English, and I was seen by someone to check our application form only 10-15 minutes later. The place was super efficiently organised, because they kept waiting times so short, although it was pretty busy. I went out shortly afterwards with one extra form to complete (I would not have been happy had the application been complete 🙂 !) and only needed to fill out that form and post the whole lot. The nice man promised me that the application will be processed within three weeks. I didn’t believe any of it and am now counting down, but something else happened that gave me reason to hope. And this is number

2. I registered myself as unemployed. I didn’t do this because I want lots of benefits … I don’t think I would be entitled to anyway, I just need this for my German pension scheme. (I know, life’s complicated) Anyway, I registered online last Sunday, had a confirmation on Monday and a letter with an appointment for NEXT TUESDAY (!!!) in our letterbox by Wednesday. Isn’t this amazing? I could not believe my eyes. They said they would send an appointment within 72 hours, I was still surprised to get the letter so dead on time though, and I did certainly not expect an appointment within a week. I am starting to believe in the French system ;). I am looking forward to this appointment, maybe they offer me a French course to skill me up a bit, I don’t think I would be employable at this moment in time due to my lack of French. But before I get carried away by a wave of praise for the French system, let me confess that…
3… we still have not got our carte vitale. This is also amazing, because my hero has worked in this country for what – ten or eleven months now? Anyway, as I was getting on so well with the bureaucrats, I thought I’d pay social security yet another visit to enquire about the whereabouts of our carte vitale. The friendly lady checked her computer and found out that completion of an important form is still outstanding. This form had been sent out mid-March. Shock, horror, because this form never made it into our letterbox. So she applied for another one to be posted and I think this one arrived today (I haven’t opened the letter yet). So there you go. French bureaucracy works, I am pleased to say. I’ll keep you posted on the progress, I bet you are also now wondering with increasing suspense whether our child benefit application form will be processed within three weeks, if we eventually get carte vitale, and what will happen at the unemployement agency on Tuesday (pole emploi). Stay with us, I’ll keep you informed, life is so exciting!! 😉

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