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Last Updated: December 5, 2023
Wondering how to request and renew the carte de séjour “vie privée et familiale” (CdS VPF) using the new online procedure? As the spouse of a French citizen, I recently went through the process of renewing my VPF card and have detailed my entire experience in this post. Additionally, I was approved, not only to renew my right to stay in France but was also granted the 10-year carte de résident as the spouse of a French citizen.
This post is mainly for those who already hold the “vie privée et familiale” status as the spouse of a French citizen. You either have a spouse visa and are making a first request for a carte de séjour or you already hold a CdS VPF and are looking to complete a renewal. If you are switching to this status from another type of residence permit, check out my guide to how I got the CdS VPF through marriage first, as there are some particularities regarding eligibility for that process.
Disclaimer: This blog post is based on my personal experience in Paris, as an American married to a French citizen. The information provided here is for general educational purposes only and cannot be considered legal advice. Be sure to do your own research to make sure you are meeting requirements based on your individual situation.
General Tips for the Online CdS Request and Renewal
- Préfectures moved to the online renewal for the CdS VPF for spouses of French citizens in April of 2023. Since the online renewal is still a new process, expect it to be a little clunky and incomplete. The online interface is sure to be updated little by little. Therefore, it is essential you read the instructions carefully and pay attention as updates may differ from what is shown in this blog post.
- As I understand it, the new online renewal platform is a national platform, but it’s still your local préfecture that looks over your paperwork and makes the decisions!
- The online renewal for the carte de séjour “vie privée et familiale” is not available for everyone under this status. For example, if you are PACSed to a French citizen, you may still be required to book an appointment with your préfecture for an in-person renewal. Check the renewal process for your specific circumstances before getting started.
- The online application does not need to be completed in one sitting. You can start the request, save your progress, and return to the application later.
- There’s a blank text box at the end of the application. You can use this box to write a note or explain anything particular about your situation, documents, and/or application.
- In the upper right corner of the online platform, you can click on the Besoin d’aide? button to access FAQs and see quick, simple explanations along with photos for numerous situations pertaining to the visa validation and renewal processes.
When to Renew Your CdS VPF
If you are eligible to request or renew your CdS VPF online, the application should be submitted between 4 and 2 months before the expiration of your current residence permit. Submitting your paperwork late may result in a fine. However, if you think you’re going to be a stellar student and get ahead by accessing the application before the four-month mark, you will likely be blocked from doing so. Just stick to the timeframe!
⚡️ Pro Tip: One of the ways I stay organized is by entering both my residence permit expiration date and my renewal deadline as events in my calendar. I have tons of tips for successfully tackling French bureaucracy in France!
📌 Note: It is very common for many préfectures to be behind on reviewing applications. The deadline for submission only reflects a deadline for submission. You will not be monetarily penalized if your residence permit expires while you are waiting for a response.
Fees and Cost of the VPF Card
The cost for the VPF residence permit is the same regardless of the duration of the card. The one-year temporary card, the two-year (or more) multiyear card, and the 10-year residence permit as the spouse of a French citizen all cost 225 euros each.
If you submit your renewal paperwork late, you may be subject to a 180 euro fine.
Fees are paid by purchasing timbres fiscaux ahead of time and presenting the QR codes upon collection of the card.
Duration of the VPF Card as the Spouse of a French Citizen
The most common titre de séjour progression for the spouse of a French citizen is a one-year visa or residence card, followed by a two-year card, and finally, a 10-year residence permit. Each step along the way has different eligibility requirements.
However, the local préfecture (and more literally—the person reviewing your paperwork!) gets the final say in the duration of your card!
If the decision feels a bit arbitrary and you’ve had a different experience or difficulty in attaining a card of longer duration, I know it’s not much consolation but I want you to know that you’re not crazy! The process can feel a bit unfair and inconsistent at times. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and the process has been a breeze, consider yourself lucky 😉
Carte temporaire (One-Year Card)
This is a one-year temporary card. You would likely be given this card if it’s your first time requesting the “vie privée et familiale” status or, if upon renewal, you did not complete the requirements of the OFII Integration contract within your first year in France on the “vie privée et familiale” status.
Example: I arrived in France on a visitor visa, got married to my French husband, and then switched to “vie privée et familiale” status. The temporary one-year card is the first one I received as I would need to fulfill my obligations with OFII in order to be eligible for a card of longer duration.
Carte pluriannuel (Two to Four-Year Card)
A multiyear CdS VPF is obtained with proof of completion of OFII requirements, including language classes, if applicable. This residence permit is valid between 2 and 4 years. In most cases, a 2-year card is granted following the 1-year card. The duration of validity is at the discretion of the préfecture.
Carte de résident (Ten-Year Card)
This card has a duration of 10 years! To be eligible for this card, you must have been married to a French citizen for at least three years (and lived legally in France during this time). Take time to read through all of the nuances regarding eligibility for the 10-year residence permit.
Renewal paperwork for this card is largely the same as the other renewals with the addition of a language requirement, if applicable.
Interestingly, there’s no application specifically for the 10-year carte de résident as the spouse of a French citizen. Essentially, you go through the standard renewal procedure as if you were doing a renewal for the CdS VPF. Through your paperwork, you either prove you are eligible or you don’t. More explained in the paperwork section below!
Required Renewal Paperwork & Navigating the Online Platform
This year was my second renewal of the “vie privée et familiale” status as the spouse of a French citizen. Since I’ve been married for over three years, I was additionally eligible for the 10-year residence permit.
What follows is a step-by-step look at the different parts of the application along with some screenshots of the online platform. Suggestions for acceptable paperwork are listed in each section. The paperwork that I personally chose to upload is indicated in bold. There are limited upload spots, so you need to select what best represents your situation.
⚠️ Note: If this is your first time applying for or renewing as the spouse of a French citizen, your documents might be subject to more scrutiny. Be prepared with extra documentation handy so that you can respond quickly to any requests for more information. Proving your life together as a married couple (vie commune) is most notably an area where applicants are typically asked for additional documents.
Feeling overwhelmed? Want to go over your paperwork together so that you can proceed with confidence?
Accessing Your Account
The new online platform is a national system that allows foreigners in France to perform multiple processes regarding our immigration status. This is the same website where you can validate your visa upon arrival in France or declare an address change. Depending on eligibility, you might also be able to renew your titre de séjour or even apply for French nationality.
If you’ve arrived in France on a long-stay visa (VLS-TS) at any point since August 2019, you’ve likely already used this online platform to validate your visa. If that’s the case, you already have an account set up.
In the event that you’ve already been in France for a while, you might need to log in for the first time. You can either create an account or use FranceConnect to log in.
⚡️ Pro Tip: Since moving to France, I’ve been using LastPass, a password manager, to keep track of all of my login information. It generates strong passwords and auto-fills my login credentials on multiple devices. A recommendation from my IT Frenchie, it’s been an absolute game changer.
Starting the Online Titre de séjour Renewal
From the homepage (Accueil), select the option to renew your titre de séjour.
As a reminder, you do not have to finish everything in one sitting.
If you want to access your application at a later date, simply log in and click on your name in the upper right-hand corner. Then select “Accéder à mon compte,” scroll down to “Mes demandes en cours,” and click on “Continuer ma demande.”
The application is broken up into 5 steps as illustrated below.
⚠️ If you’re struggling with the application and platform being in French, there is a button to toggle the website to English. Use this feature with caution and at your own risk!! The translations are not always accurate and the translation feature can even sometimes lead to problems with the functioning of the platform. I do not recommend it at this time.
1. Informations personnelles (Personal Information)
This section is primarily to verify personal information such as your name, sex, date of birth, country and place of birth, and nationality. (This information may already be all filled in!) Contact information such as your address and phone number can be updated if needed.
For some reason, they had my husband’s phone number filled in even though I’ve corrected this with them multiple times!
2. Motif de séjour (Reason for Stay)
If you’re reading this blog post, your reason for staying in France is because you’re married to a French citizen! This section requires you to fill out some basic information regarding your spouse and family.
Depending on your family situation, you’ll have more or less information to fill out. For example, if you have children, you’ll need to fill out their names, dates of birth, nationality, etc.
3. Justificatifs (Proofs)
This part of the application is where you are going to upload all of your documents in accordance with your situation.
There are limited upload spots for each section. I generally filled in every available spot! I did not combine any documents into a single document. In other words, each upload was one single proof. Personally, I was worried that combining multiple documents into a single document would lead to confusion on the part of the person reviewing my application. (Consider my standards low 😂)
I uploaded documents as PDFs because I already had everything scanned to my computer. Other format options, such as .jpg and .png images, are accepted as well.
⚡️ Pro Tip: If you have an iPhone, you can scan documents using the Notes app on your phone! Create a new note, tap the camera icon, and select “Scan Documents.” If that’s not an option for you, try out the AdobeScan app. More info here.
⬇️⬇️⬇️ Below, you will find the documents that I was asked for along with a list of examples that could potentially meet the requirements. The documents listed in bold indicate the documents that I personally uploaded. Choose documents that best work for your situation!
A reminder of my situation: I am an American applying for the renewal of my carte de séjour “vie privée et familiale” as the spouse of a French citizen, already holding a 2-year CdS VPF and eligible for a 10-year CdS based on being married to a French citizen for 3+ years.
☑️ État civil
This section did not populate for me on this platform.
If you’ve never held a carte de séjour before, you may be asked to provide a birth certificate. For American citizens, this generally needs to be legalized and translated by a certified translator. This was only asked of me for my very first request for a carte de séjour.
☑️ Photographie d’identité récente—Numéro EPhoto
Electronic photo services are located throughout France. These services take your photo and allow you to electronically record your signature. In Paris, you can conveniently find self-service booths to get your picture taken in many metro stations. They can also be located in grocery stores. Use the ANTS locator to find an e-photo service provider near you.
- E-photo number—Your photo and electronic signature will automatically be transmitted.
☑️ Justificatif de nationalité—One proof of nationality
- Passport Identification Page
☑️ Justificatif de domicile datant de moins de 6 mois—One proof of address dated within the last six months
- Avis d’échéance—Rent & rental fees payment notice
- EDF Titulaire de contrat—Electricity contract through EDF
- For more suggestions, check the justificatifs de communauté de vie section below as most documents in this section can also work here.
- There are specific requirements for those living in a hotel or being housed by someone.
➡️ Since there were extra upload spots available, I included two proofs in the hopes that they would use one as an additional proof of our life together (vie commune) because this latter section, conversely, didn’t seem to have enough upload spaces.
MOTIF DE SÉJOUR
☑️ Justificatif de nationalité du conjoint—One proof of spouse’s nationality
- French husband’s passport ID page
- Carte nationale d’identité—national ID card
☑️ Justificatif de mariage—One proof of marriage
- Acte de mariage—recent marriage certificate dated within three months
- Attestation TCF—TCF language certificate showing A2 level of French
- Scroll down to Section 4 for an explanation as to why the heck I uploaded a language certificate here!
☑️ Justificatif de communauté de vie—Any proofs demonstrating your joint life together.
This can come in the form of a single document showing both spouses’ names or separate proofs demonstrating that you both receive a particular service at the same address. So, if you have a joint bank account in both your names, that would be acceptable proof. Likewise, if you have separate bank accounts, but your bank statements are sent to the same address, that would be acceptable proof.
There are only three upload spots which doesn’t seem like enough based on my prior renewal experiences. (Spoiler alert: I ended up being right about this and an additional document to fulfill this category was requested of me.)
- Attestation de vie commune—Simple document, signed and dated by both partners, swearing that you have established a life together since XX/XX/XXXX.
- Avis d’impôts—Joint income tax return
- Mutuelle, justificatif d’assurance—Proof of joint, top-up health insurance
- Quittance de loyer—Rent payment receipt
- Assurance habitation—Renter’s insurance
- Contrat de bail—Rental contract
- Relevé de compte bancaire—Joint bank statement or separate account statements at the same address
- Attestation de droits à l’assurance maladie—Proof of enrollment in the national health insurance plan, one for each partner
- Facture Internet—Internet bill
- Facture Mobile—Cell phone bill
***You may have additional proofs to upload depending on your particular situation, notably if you are divorced, for example. More information on special cases here.
4. Dépôt de la demande (Application Submission)
⚠️ I know I said that there were 5 steps, but listen—French admin is a game and they like to keep you on your toes. When you land on this page, you are on Step 4. However, once you advance from this section by clicking the “Déposer la demande” button, game over—your request is submitted and you won’t be able to make any further changes! If you want to go back and check your work now, you can still do so. Just click “Revenir à l’étape précédente.”
On this page, there is a text box where you can write a little love note 💕 to the French admin peeps. This is a good spot to explain anything particular about your situation or even to thank them for their time. Why not? It’ll probably surprise them and maybe even work in your favor 😉
Personally, I used this spot to convey that I am eligible and would like to be considered for the carte de résident de 10 ans as the spouse of a French citizen. I also let them know that I am aware of the language requirement and uploaded my proof of A2 language ability to the Proof of Marriage section.
➡️ At the time of my application, there was no designated section to upload this language certificate. (If that’s changed, let me know!) The choice for where I uploaded this document was arbitrary. There was simply an extra space there that I wasn’t using. I opted to do it this way because I was worried about missing out on the opportunity to attain the 10-year card and didn’t want to leave it to them to contact me for it. This method worked for me and I was granted the 10-year card.
However, it doesn’t seem to be necessary to do it this way. I have heard from many individuals who did not write any note or upload the language certificate but were contacted with a request to provide proof of language abilities. It sounds like, in general, administration is automatically following up with those who are eligible for the 10-year card.
Likewise, if this is your first renewal of the CdS VPF and you need to prove that you have signed the OFII integration contract and completed all your classes, there is currently no designated spot to upload these documents either. It is my understanding that they will contact you and request these documents if they are required of you.
5. Confirmation (Confirmation)
Congrats, we did it! All the steps are checked and it’s out of our hands now.
This page confirms that your request has been submitted. From here, you have immediate access to a PDF download entitled Confirmation du dépôt.
This serves as proof of your application submission. You should also receive this confirmation via email with the PDF attached.
Did this guide help you? Say thanks with a cup of coffee!
Estimated Timeline & Following Up on Your Application
Further communications, such as how the request is going and if additional documentation is required, will arrive via email and the online platform messaging system.
Wondering how long it might take to get an update or to know if you’ve been approved for your new carte de séjour? Will you hear back in one month? Will you hear back in two? Grab a Magic 8 Ball, give it a shake, and you’ll have your answer!
In all seriousness, the answer to this question is very dependent on your local préfecture. Processing times can vary from one month to a few. It’s my understanding that they generally process applications in the order of priority and not necessarily in the order in which they arrive.
Believe me—I know it’s hard to wait for this kind of thing and not have a concrete answer about what to expect. I’ve been in that situation myself many times.
You can monitor the status of your request by logging into your account. (Click on your name in the upper right-hand corner > Accéder à mon compte > scroll down to Mes demandes en cours) When your application is being processed, the next icon should light up in blue.
If your residence permit is due to expire imminently or you’ve found yourself waiting for a couple of months with no word, it would be reasonable to follow up at this point. There is a contact button in the upper right-hand corner of the online platform which would be the best place to start when reaching out for information and guidance.
My Personal Timeline & Troubleshooting
Frustratingly, I was originally denied access to begin my renewal application even though I was within the two to four-month period.
If this happens to you, try not to panic! Give yourself a week off and try again. I eventually got access after a couple of weeks and had plenty of time to submit the paperwork. This is one of those kinks that might work out on its own if you just give it time to throw its hissy fit.
Before you read any further, remember that one of my rules for successfully dealing with French bureaucracy is to try not to get too caught up in the comparison game. There are a lot of variables at play and everyone’s experience is different!
Here’s my personal timeline to give you an idea of what to expect:
- Submitted documents online—end of June 2023
- Immediately had access to Confirmation du dépôt de demande PDF via the platform and an email
- Received a request for an additional document—one month later
- Honestly, I was pretty shocked to hear anything back so soon and I really wouldn’t consider this the norm!
- An email was sent alerting me to the fact that there was a notification about my request on the online platform
- On the platform, I was able to read a message (Demande de complément) indicating that they required an additional document to prove vie commune. I responded to this message and uploaded my document right away.
- If you receive a request like this, you have 30 days to respond!
- Received notification that my request had been approved—less than a week later
- An email was sent alerting me to the fact that there was a notification about my request on the online platform
- On the platform, I was able to read a message (Notification de décision prise) indicating that my request had been accepted and my new card would be printed
- This message also contained a downloadable Attestation de décision favorable PDF
- Received an SMS text message informing me that my card was available for pickup at the préfecture—one month later
- How to Pick Up Your Carte de séjour at the Paris Préfecture
- It’s notoriously difficult to get an appointment for card pickup in Paris, so I didn’t get an appointment until about a month and a half after I was informed that the card was ready. This was well after the expiration date of my old carte de séjour.
- Interestingly, the online platform never indicated that my card was ready.
- How to Pick Up Your Carte de séjour at the Paris Préfecture
All in all, the online renewal process for the carte de séjour as the spouse of a French citizen was relatively easy and straightforward. It even required less documentation than what I’ve needed in the past for in-person renewal appointments. So, I was skeptical AF before hitting the submit button. If you’ve also been subjected to in-person renewal appointments, maybe you can relate? 😅
Have you used the new online procedure for renewing your titre de séjour? I’d love to know how it went for you!