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Last Updated: March 24, 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.

outside of the Paris préfecture

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 are long (half an hour), 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 ( 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 horrendously slow, glitchy, and poorly designed. 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.

no available time slots message on the Paris préfecture appointment booking website
Get ready to see a whole lot of this 🙄🙄🙄

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 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 results 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.

Service surchargé message on the Paris préfecture appointment booking website
403 Forbidden message on the Paris préfecture appointment booking website

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.

timbre fiscal électronique purchased to pay for a titre de séjour

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*
  • Passport
  • 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.

signs indicating the line for Salle 1—Salle des Remises at the Paris préfecture and where to wait to pick up your carte de séjour

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 under an hour with your shiny carte de séjour in hand! Celebrate quickly before it is time to renew your card again!

How to Pick Up Your Carte de Séjour at the Paris Préfecture
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15 thoughts on “How to Pick Up Your Carte de Séjour at the Paris Préfecture

  • November 9, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for your post. Does the security at the front look at your convocation before letting you in the building ?

    • November 13, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Ari,
      Yes, they typically want to see your convocation as it is required for entry.
      Good luck with everything!

  • February 21, 2022 at 9:29 am

    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!

    • February 22, 2022 at 6:17 am

      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?


      • February 28, 2022 at 3:05 pm

        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.

        • March 1, 2022 at 8:49 am

          Hi Billie,

          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:

          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!


  • March 11, 2022 at 4:06 am

    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.

  • March 18, 2022 at 6:05 am

    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.

    • March 18, 2022 at 9:40 am

      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!

  • March 25, 2022 at 7:25 am

    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.

    • March 25, 2022 at 7:42 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Camden 🙂
      I’m glad you got that appointment!!

  • April 22, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    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.

    • April 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm

      Whew, just in time! Thanks for sharing your experience, Ann Marie!

  • April 24, 2022 at 1:57 pm

    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.


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