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French Bureaucracy


buntsy
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Hi everyone, I'm new to this site. I'm hoping to join the ranks of English expats in Paris some time in the new year.   However, having just read a number of books on life as an expat in France, the last being "Going In Seine" by Polly Fielding, which did at least give me a lot of laughs, I'm starting to become quite nervous about handling French bureaucracy.  Is the system as complicated as it sounds?
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If you stick to the absolute basics, you will be just about ok. However as soon as you differ slightly from "the norm" ie what those pushing the papers and stamping the forms see day to day, they are completely out of their depth and very few have the imagination, inclination, wit or will to bother finding out correct procedures, so will fob you off with whatever bullshit they think you will believe just to get rid of you. In most organisations the left hand rarely knows what the right hand is doing and I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of form-filling is just for show, keeping people in jobs and it all gets filed away into oblivion having never actually served a useful purpose.

I have a simple question about taxation, and speaking to 4 different people during various visits to the Hotel D'impots has got me 4 different answers - not just a minor difference in interpreting the rules, but wildly conflicting answers. If one woman is to be believed, i don't have to pay tax. Ever. However, when I asked for this in writing, she became strangely reluctant to do so, knowing I had called her bluff trying to get rid of me and my pesky questions. This is just one example of what goes on with every facet of life here from health care to car registration, and woe betide you if you plan on starting a business.
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Let's put it this way. A few months ago, I was doing some translation work on a tender document for a new payroll system for a client company.

In the course of this, I came across a number of acronyms, scattered throughout the text. Now, bear in mind, this is one company. The various bodies and activities involved, directly or indirectly, with payroll (and I may have missed a few) use the following acronyms:

ASSEDIC, URSSAF, CDD, CDI  (easy, huh? Just you wait…) 

DADSU, PERCO, CSG, CRDS, AED, N4DS, DIF,

STC, AGS, ARRCO,AGIRC,GMP,AGFF,APEC,CIPS,CIPC R, DUE,CIX, TA,

TB,CCNSA,CE,DP,IJSS

Now, that's all you need to have covered off just to produce a payslip in a smallish company.....

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Betty, did you ever find out what these acronyms stand for?

I go through Mr Clair's payslip every month and shake my head in puzzlement every time!

I guess I coud google them, but that would explain what they stand for, not necessarily what they're for...! [:D]

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Top tip: You don't handle French bureacracy - it handles you. Find out the rules and how the system works, make sure you will be able to fall neatly and unobtrusively into line, and all will be fine (if your luck is in and the wind is set fair and the fonctionnaire is having a good day).

If you do not fit into line, do not expect anyone to bend or adapt the machinery to fit round you. The system is not complicated at all, it is extremely simple: if computer say non, answer is non. It will be keep being non until either all your sticking-out corners have been filed off and computer say oui now you can be processed, or you've given up and gone away.

In other words, make sure you meet France's criteria (forget all about how it works in the UK) and can produce all the paperwork to prove that you do, and you will then be processed like mincemeat in a sausage factory. If you turn up and say 'I am a spare rib, process me' they will say 'But we do not process spare ribs'. And they will set about trying to make mincemeat of you.

Happy Christmas.
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[quote user="Clair"]Betty, did you ever find out what these acronyms stand for?

I go through Mr Clair's payslip every month and shake my head in puzzlement every time!

I guess I coud google them, but that would explain what they stand for, not necessarily what they're for...! [:D]

[/quote]

By dint of struggle, Clair, yes, I did. I felt it would be a bit of added value if I did, and if I could explain them to the people for whom I was doing the translations. In my quest, I came across this website. It doesn't have all the answers, but it gives yet further insight into the maze of acronyms ..

[url]http://glossairedusocial.fr/index.php[/url]

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I second what Eurotrash said.

1) Don't assume that anything is the same as in the UK, even the logic behind it all.

2) Obey. If they ask for two more copies of something, just send/give them even if you have already done so. Don't try to fathom the whys and wherefores.

3) Never send originals. Make copies and send those, and make copies of everything you send, and keep paperwork for a long time see here

http://www.laposte.net/services-pratiques/administration-en-ligne/papiers-a-conserver.jsp

4) Persist if you don't get the answer you need. Another face at the counter may well give you a different story.

5) Play the 'can you suggest a way round this?' card. This may not work so well in Paris, but sometimes in the Provinces the officials are flattered and even interested to help you. This of course depends on the person in front of you (see above)

6) Expect infuriating delays and unreasonable demands, but read (2) above again. The 'dossier pièce manquante' is a classic. You will be asked in a seemingly accusing way for a 'paper' that you have certainly already sent. Send it again.

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Warranty Items, quit different from the UK.

Always ask for a facture even though you have a till receipt.

Put the till receipt, facture and credit/debit card receipt in original box with all the little plastic accessory bags etc and store for the duration of the warranty.

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Let me try to give an example of why it can drive you mad, and why it appears to be an exercise in its own right, not a means to achieving a goal.

I am, as most folk here know, trying to tidy up in the wake of Deb's rather rapid demise in September. I needed to re-register her car in my name, and, while doing so, offered the man doing the task her French driving licence and disabled parking badge. Both had been issued in the same office - the Prefecture - that we were sitting in. Nothing to do with him he said - take them to the front office. So I did so, and the lady accepted the licence, but gave me a printed slip with an address for the disabled badge. When I got home, there was a message on the phone from her - she needed a copy of the death certificate. This was issued, of course, by another Goverment agency across town - the Mairie. Now you might think that all that matters is that the licence has been taken out of circulation, avoiding abuse or misuse. No- it has to follow a procedure. Moral - don't bother, and you will probably never be asked for such a thing - there is no-one to join up the dots between Deb's death and her licence!

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[quote user="PaulT"][quote user="Clair"]I go through Mr Clair's payslip every month and shake my head in puzzlement every time![/quote]

The poor soul - he does not have to also hand over his unopened pay packet as well [6][/quote]

It's been a long time since Mr Clair has had a pay packet![:D]. People get paid directly into their bank account these days. You know that, right?

To clarify: I deal with all the admin, bank, income declaration and whatnot in our household. Being fluent in French (and not having a hearing impediment) makes it just a little bit easier when dealing with French bureaucracy.

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[quote user="You can call me Betty"][quote user="Clair"]Betty, did you ever find out what these acronyms stand for?[/quote]

By dint of struggle, Clair, yes, I did. I felt it would be a bit of added value if I did, and if I could explain them to the people for whom I was doing the translations. In my quest, I came across this website. It doesn't have all the answers, but it gives yet further insight into the maze of acronyms ..

[url]http://glossairedusocial.fr/index.php[/url][/quote]

That's great, Betty [:)] Thanks.

I'll bookmark it and try to remember it for something to read when I can't go to sleep... [:D]

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[quote user="Clair"][quote user="PaulT"][quote user="Clair"]I go through Mr Clair's payslip every month and shake my head in puzzlement every time![/quote]

The poor soul - he does not have to also hand over his unopened pay packet as well [6][/quote]

It's been a long time since Mr Clair has had a pay packet![:D]. People get paid directly into their bank account these days. You know that, right?

To clarify: I deal with all the admin, bank, income declaration and whatnot in our household. Being fluent in French (and not having a hearing impediment) makes it just a little bit easier when dealing with French bureaucracy.




[/quote]

Clair, I was joking.

Paul

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Paul, you reminded me how easily a post could be misinterpreted [:)]...

This love of acronyms everywhere is a bugbear with me.

I sometimes comment on La Dépêche when they publish articles made up of CAPITAL LETTERS interspersed with occasional verbs and adjectives, with the assumption that every reader has an innate understanding and in-depth knowledge of every official body and their acronyms.

A few months ago, a 280-word article contained no fewer than 8 different acronyms, knowledge of which was indispensable for comprehension of the topic being written about, in this instance, part of the spending budget of the commune.

I commented that they were unexplained, which rendered the article pointless. As I expected, my comment didn't survive the sarcasm censorship.

Though I still occasionally wonder what ADPvDL

and SCOT

stand for... [8-)]

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I was amused to find this entry on their website..

C'est par arrêté prefectoral du 28 juillet 2003 qu'a été créé le

Pays de la vallée de la Dordogne lotoise, espace de concertation et de

réalisation de "projets pertinents et structurants" selon

les lois Pasqua, Chevènement et Voynet
.( Laws which, I am sure, are as well known to your readership as the backs of their individual hands.....)

  

C'est ici en toute transparence et simplicité que nous vous proposons de parcourir notre site Internet.(Oh, in that case....)

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