Key formalities

Registering at the consulate
A little piece of your country abroad
A consulate allows its citizens to keep a permanent link with their country of origin, as long as they register there. Registration at the consulate opens many doors.
A consulate's primary function
A consulate is the administrative representative of a country abroad. Its role is to manage administrative matters for its citizens abroad, such as:
  • provide them with information and advices on the administrative processes or formalities in the country they live in,
  • establish or renew official documents, for instance a passport, especially when lost or stolen (allow enough time to do so, as replacements are not immediate),
  • obtain official certificates or copies of national documents that have been lost or stolen,
  • notify the civil registry of events which occur abroad: birth or adoption of children, marriage, divorce, death,
  • manage collection of votes during national elections,
  • provide support to those wishing to set up a business, by providing economic information about France.
In the event of a serious problem
The consulate is also a very important place to turn to in case of:
  • financial problems: it can speed up the transfer of required funds sent by the family,
  • health problems: it can put you in touch with a medical specialist (but fees remain at your expense),
  • - serious accident or death: it informs the family in the country of origin and carries out the initial formalities in France,
  • arrest or imprisonment: it can provide legal assistance, in particular to find a lawyer. It ensures that proceedings comply with the law and keeps the family informed.
Nevertheless, the consulate cannot do everything
  • It is not a bank: it cannot provide financial assistance to deal with a tax, administrative or medical problem or pay for return flights for its citizens. Should a citizen have a very severe need to be medically repatriated, it might provide an advance for the cost, which must be repaid.
  • It is not a lawyer: it cannot intervene in legal proceedings to defend a fellow-citizen.
 
 
NB
Full details of all foreign consulates in France are available on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.expatries.diplomatie.gouv.fr.
 
 
© All Contents, Laurence de PERCIN, janvier 2014.
Groupe Société Générale