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Last Updated: October 29, 2022
After submitting all your paperwork and applying for your residence permit, you are now ready to pick up your carte de séjour at the Paris préfecture. Hold up—I know you are eager to celebrate (and boy, do you deserve it), but we have a few more steps to follow. Here’s your guide to picking up your residence permit from the préfecture in Paris.
Is Your Titre de Séjour Ready?
Typically, you’ll receive a text message (SMS) letting you know that your titre de séjour (residence permit) is ready to be picked up, but this doesn’t always happen.
It’s hard to know how quickly your dossier (file) will be processed by the Paris préfecture but if you’ve been waiting over 2 months and haven’t heard anything, you should definitely follow up. In some cases, your card might be ready, but the notification simply wasn’t sent. This does occasionally happen and it has happened to me. I called and found out that my card had been printed, but I was never notified.
Contacting the Paris Préfecture
The phone number for the Paris préfecture is 34 30, and you can call Monday through Friday, 9AM-4PM.
Many people complain that no one picks up the phone. While it’s true that the call is sometimes dropped, the wait times can be long (half an hour or more!), and you don’t always get a clear answer, I’m telling you that I have successfully called the Paris préfecture numerous times. Granted, the success rate is probably one good call for every three to five fruitless ones, but it is possible to get through and get the answers that you need.
Alternatively, you could send them a message using their contact form or send a direct email (firstname.lastname@example.org). However, I find that I usually get a quicker answer when I have someone on the phone instead of waiting for them to respond to my email.
Booking an Appointment
The website for booking your appointment at the Paris préfecture is poorly designed, often resulting in a horrendously slow and glitchy experience. If you think that it’s not working, just know that it’s not you.
As you navigate through to schedule your rendez-vous, note that you can choose any number guichet (desk/window) that you like. There is no difference and they are all in the same room. The trick is to select a guichet that actually has appointments available. It’s common for there to not be any available times.
There is no magic or science to this. Just keep trying every day at different times. When appointments do open up, they are often a few weeks to a month or two in the future. Once you have successfully booked an appointment, you’ll immediately receive an email with your convocation details attached as a PDF.
➡️ Pro Tip: According to an urban legend, new appointments in Paris are released on Sunday at midnight. Fact or fiction? Let me know if it works for you!
Error Messages on the Paris Préfecture Booking Website
I didn’t think it was possible, but the Paris booking website has actually gotten worse. Continuously selecting different guichets/windows may result in a “403 Forbidden” message or “Service surchargé” message. This is because the website recognizes your multiple fruitless attempts at trying to pick up your carte de séjour and wants to mock you to no end.
In order to outsmart the website from recognizing your IP address and gain (slightly) more time on the website, try accessing the site on different devices and/or try using a VPN. Then rotate through your devices as if you have nothing better to do… May the odds be ever in your favor!
MFFG – My France Foreign Guide
You can also download the MFFG – My France Foreign Guide smartphone app. There is a free notification service through this app to let you know when new appointments become available so you can head to the booking website. Personally, I’ve never used this phone app to find an appointment, but I know it has helped many frustrated people throughout France! NOTE: There are varying reports of success with this app. Some people continue to have success with this app and others not so much.
Paying the Tax
There are some exceptions, but most people need to pay a tax in order to receive their carte de séjour. The tax is paid by purchasing an electronic stamp called a timbre fiscal also known as a timbre électronique.
Taxes for administrative tasks like this used to be paid for with small bits of adhesive paper, aka stamps. This is why they are still referred to as timbres even though they are now electronic. It was a bit of a pain because you would often have to buy several stamps and cobble them together in order to have the exact right amount to pay for your administrative process.
While France has simplified the system by moving it online, the website isn’t the easiest to navigate. One of the pain points is that you need to know exactly how much you owe because you have to enter the amount manually. In most cases, you will pay 225 euros for your titre de séjour. This is how much I paid for my carte de séjour vie privée et familiale (CdS VPF) as the spouse of a French citizen. Check the amount for your specific carte de séjour.
When you buy your timbre fiscal, you’ll have a choice between getting your proof of payment via an email (par courriel) or via a text message (par SMS). I recommend opting for an email. Whichever you choose, you will still have the opportunity to download a PDF on the confirmation page.
What to Bring to Your Appointment
This appointment should be relatively quick. You are simply picking up your new card! Here are the basic documents you should bring with you:
- Convocation for the appointment*
- Current titre de séjour (carte de séjour or visa)
- Récépissé (if you have one)
- Timbre fiscal / Timbre électronique*
*Instead of printing them out, I showed both of these documents as PDFs on my phone. Staying organized is essential when tackling French bureaucracy!
Did this guide help you? Say thanks with a cup of coffee!
Picking Up Your Card
On the day of your appointment, you’ll enter the Paris préfecture the same way you did to apply for your residence permit. This includes going through security. Don’t expect to be allowed in much earlier than your appointment time. To avoid waiting outside for too long, I wouldn’t show up any earlier than half an hour before your time slot. The convocation is required for entry.
Just after the security checkpoint, there is a reception desk. The employees here may or may not ask to see your convocation so that they can vaguely tell you where to go. With only one hallway leading out of the foyer, you can see why this direction is essential! 😂
There is a room designated for handing out the titres de séjour (Salles des Remises—Salle 1). Check for the purple signs. It’s the first room you’ll come to on the ground floor, and the line begins in a sort of outdoor hallway.
Inside the room, the process is the same as at your initial appointment. Be prepared by having all of your documents (minus the convocation) ready. After receiving a ticket from the receptionist, you will wait for your number to be shown on the electronic calling system. When it’s your turn, the agent will ask for all of your documents. Then they will scan the timbre fiscal. Finally, they’ll ask you to verify your information and sign a paper in order to receive your official plastic card.
With some luck, you’ll be in and out of the préfecture in well under an hour with your shiny carte de séjour in hand! Celebrate quickly before it is time to renew your card again!
25 thoughts on “How to Pick Up Your Carte de Séjour at the Paris Préfecture”
Thanks for your post. Does the security at the front look at your convocation before letting you in the building ?
Yes, they typically want to see your convocation as it is required for entry.
Good luck with everything!
My card has been ready for months and I tried day and night without luck to get a rdv. I finally tried the MFFG after paying them a fee of approximately 20€. Lets see if this works as I am running out of time. I never had so much difficulty with this!
The booking system is so frustrating! I’m sorry you’ve been having such difficulty, Billie.
I’m a little confused about you paying a fee to the MFFG app. From what I understand, it is free to use and it doesn’t collect payments. My friends who have used the app have never mentioned needing to pay to receive notifications about open appointments, but perhaps this is a new development?
Yes, I received a message from the prefecture it is free to register but apparently now mffg charges and hasn’t done anything. Still no appointment.
This is very strange. After your first message, I decided to take a closer look at the MFFG app. I downloaded it and signed up for notifications. At no point have I been prompted to make a payment in the app. When I click on a booking link, I’m sent to the official préfecture websites for whichever department I’m looking at. From what I’m seeing, the app is free and it does not book or save appointments for you. It simply lets you know when appointments are available and directs you to the applicable website. Here is more information about how it works: https://foxrift.com/mffg/general/
In any case, I hope an appointment turns up for you soon. I know first hand how frustrating it is to refresh that booking page several times a day!
Thank you very much for this. I did not realize there was an app and I just googled mffg believing that was the solution. It’s still a mess for me and while I have written several times I always get the same answer that there are openings. Only once have I been able to get past page 1. Fingers crossed that this will work finally.
I shall add my experience as it may help some people get through the nightmare of collecting their Carte de Séjour in Paris.
I tried for three weeks to get an appointment. I signed up with MFFG (free) and another paid service. Both are useless. Don’t bother; they don’t work.
During week three, I spent all day, every day (literally) trying to get an appointment. The gov website recognises your IP address. If you try continuously, it will just revert to a “forbidden” notice. So I used my VPN to change server after each try. After about 30-40 mins you can cycle through the servers again. I used my laptop and phone (on 4G – different IP address), alongside each other, trying all day and often in the evening/night as well.
On day five of this practice, I finally got an appointment. At around 6:45pm on a weekday. It shouldn’t be as difficult as this to get an appointment, but that’s how it is and we have no choice but to use it.
Oh my gosh, what an ordeal! They really need to figure out a better system for this.
Thank you for sharing your experience and giving some extra tips, Ronnie!
I think there might be something to the appointments being refreshed on Sunday at midnight! After trying to get a rdv for a week with no luck, last Monday I checked the website at 6am when I got up for work and was able to get one.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Camden 🙂
I’m glad you got that appointment!!
The appointment website is a nightmare! It took me 4 weeks, but today I found an appointment to pick up my card next Monday–the day before I travel to the US to visit family. Whew. Just as I selected an appointment it booted me off the system with the 403 error. I grabbed my phone, turned off the data to be on a different IP address, and finally snagged one. Thankfully it will be a pluriannuel and I will not have to do this for another few years.
Whew, just in time! Thanks for sharing your experience, Ann Marie!
Can I travel outside of the Schengen zone if I do not have the card as yet? I am not succeeding at getting the appointment.
I am unable to answer this question as I do not have enough information about your situation.
You can find out how to return to France based on your situation here: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F12189
Thank you so much for this about having PDFS on phone! no printer is ever open before I leave work in Paris and I can’t print the documents out before my appointment :”(
I’m glad this tip helped you out! I hope your appointment goes smoothly 🙂
My recipisse expires before my appointment date, and I will be arriving in France 3 days before the expiration of my recipisse. Have any of you heard of any issues related to recipisse being expired while picking up the carte de sejour?
You certainly won’t be the first one to have been in this situation—it’s a common occurrence and it is unlikely you’ll have any issues.
Just FYI, there is a process for renewing your récépissé if you need to, but it sounds like you’ll be arriving back in France on a valid document, so no worries 🙂
Well my experience wasn’t like what you all described. When I got no sms that my card was ready I called them. Of course the card was there waiting! Immediately I went on the rdv site to get the dreaded appointment. No prob. Within a minute I had tons of available days times 2 months out. I made the appointment instantly. Last week I picked up the card that was approved in May and that process could not be more efficient. 15 mn I was in and out. Voila! I can’t complain about the French admin. 🙂
Woohoo! Sounds like you hit the jackpot, Stephanie! I’m glad to hear that everything went smoothly for you 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience.
Just fyi for everyone, the issue with finding a guichet to pick up a carte de séjour (or carte de resident for the applicable people) continues to be an issue.
Also, the application (MFFG – My France Foreign Guide) does not seem to work anymore – at least on an Android. I can download it but it continues to tell me to update the application after install and then fails to update.
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience, Charles. Quelle galère indeed!
Hello Ellen. I have quite the same experience with you a few times when I apply for my Titre de Sejours. The first time I got the SMS right before 2 months. The second time, I need to write them an email asking if the card is ready yet after 2 months (I’ve never succeeded in calling 3430, maybe I succeeded once but they didn’t give me clear answer at all). They used 2 weeks to send me back an e-mail saying that my card was ready. And then the third time… (is actually happening now) I didn’t get any SMS and it’s been 3 months. They didn’t reply to my e-mail since last month. So, I let someone called 3430 for me once last month and turns out my card wasn’t ready yet. So, I wait until now. I heard that I could try to make an appointment of getting the Titre de Sejours to know that my card is ready or not. If my card is not ready, when I fill the e-mail in the appointment confirmation, I will get refused from the appointment window. And this time I can book the appointment! But I’m still not sure if this really mean my card is ready because there is no SMS, e-mail, or phone calls. What do you think?
Ugh, so annoying that you’ve been waiting for so long without any communication.
Sorry, I don’t know about this email “trick” to see if your card is ready. If I were in your situation, I would call to follow up!