Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The joys of CAF

You will hear it time and time again: French administration is a nightmare. You will hear it so much thqt you will nod knowingly every time someone mentions it. Little did I know how bad French paperwork was.  Opening a bank account was a long and drawn-out process but this pales in comparision to CAF.

CAF, for all prospective students, language assistants and stagiaires, is the French equivalent of housing benefit. Even as a non-French citizen, you are eligible to claim it as long as you are earning under a certain threshold, which as a student, language assistant or stagiaire, you will be. In principal, it's great - free money (about 120€) you don't have to pay back. But, boy do you have to work for it.

This is what CAF will drive you to doing. Image via Vidberg

First things first, start your claim as soon as you sort out your French bank account. I began my claim 5 months ago and I have yet to receive mine. You can download a form from the CAF website and you will need your landlord to fill in their section. Send that off and sometime after you will be asked to provide CAF (probably at staggered intervals) with the following documents:

  • Your full birth certificate (original and translation by a certified translator)
  • Copy of your student card
  • Copy of your passport
  • Your bank details (Relev√© Identit√© Bancaire)
  • Proof that you are a student (Your convention de stage for example)
  • Letter proving non payment of child benefit in the UK (original and translation by a certified translator)

The documents are fairly easy to obtain apart from the child benefit letter. To do so, the claimant (one of your parents) must ask HM Revenue/or your equivalent authority for a letter saying that they no longer receive child benefit on your behalf. It then needs to be translated by a traducter asserment√© who are certified by the state. This will set you back about 40€. It is more than likely along the way you will have to fill in various other forms for CAF and believe me, it will be a lengthy procedure.

Hopefully, this blog is of some use to anyone who is applying for CAF. The problem is the procedures seem to vary substantially from one person's case to another but these are the basics to help you out.


Bon courage!

Any tips for dealing with French administration? 

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