Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Flights Booked

imageIt certainly isn't cheap getting from NZ to Europe but nothing about this adventure was ever going to be cheap. We have chosen Emirates as we have some friends in Abu Dhabi that we hope to call-in to see on the either the way in or out.
We are tentatively flying on 1st January 2008, which is a rather auspicious date for the start of the adventure. The trip is not as direct as I would have hoped with stops in Melbourne, Singapore, Dubai and finally Paris.
We are trying to get settled so that the boys can start school on the 7th January. We may need to delay departure as the visas could take longer to come though.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Auckland Marathon

Although I had entered 42km, I scaled back to the half as I had not done nearly enough training. There was no way I was going to spoil my previous best time by running over 4hrs. I was pretty pleased with my time of 1:44:22 - but not enough to fork out $20 for the official photo :)

image

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Long Stay Vistors Visa (over 3 months)

The first comment on this blog entry is that it took me some time to research all the requirements.  I found many contradictory statements from various different consulates, the most comprehensive seem to be the New York consulate but even they omitted many specifics.

The following is my abbreviated version of the requirements listed on the NYC and Wellington consulate web site and is based on our actual experience.

Do you need it:

A "Long Stay Visa" is necessary for visitors from non-EU countries who wish to stay in any of the Schengen  Countries for more than 90 days within any 356 day period.

The visa will allow the holder to apply for a residence permit "Carte de Séjour" on arrival. 

Although you may not require a visa to enter France; you are required to apply for a "Carte de Sejour" if you wish to become a resident.  This is defined as being domiciled anywhere within the borders of the Schengen countries for more than 90 Days within any 356 day period. You have to apply for a "Carte de Sejour" within a certain number of days of your arrival.  This will require more forms and will be the subject of a future blog entry.

There seems to be an endless supply of incidences of people overstaying or bending the rules. Remember in France all citzens/ residents are required to carry identification, it is needed for insurance, banking and all sorts of things.  So if you a 20 year old bumming around Europe you may get away with it, just don't get caught because you may want to return one day [like when you turn 40:)] with your family.

Listed Requirement

Our Experience

ALL DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED IN ENGLISH MUST BE TRANSLATED INTO FRENCH

Try to follow this as best we could.

  • Our medical tests, from the consulate nominated doctor was in English.
  • Marriage licence and like were in English.
  • We translated our purpose of travel, accommodation evidence.
Apply in person, check on specific times that applicants can apply.

Ange and I flew down to Wellington to hand our application in. In was a testing time and is subject to another blog.. here.

Take care with fine print instructions, ignore these at your peril.  The Wellington consulate wanted the exact amount in cash, they meant just that.

Please allow 2 to 3 months in order to obtain the visa

Yes, we should have allowed more time.

We applied on 4th November and it has taken three months.  Although they were approved in late December and there was a computer glitch and we are still waiting.

Passport valid for a year (+ 3 copies)

We took at least 4 copies of each original document.  The consulate took their own copies.  Our boys now have some scrap paper for the plane trip.

4 application forms legibly completed, dated and signed - (Remember to indicate a date of departure)
  1. Take care to fill these out correctly.
  2. You are almost certainly going to (find) have some help in France. A property agent etc.  I think it was important to be able to list a contact person and address.
  3. Fill in a application for each person travelling regardless of age.
Compliant passport-size photographs NZ only required 2
Proof of health insurance valid for the whole duration of your stay, specifically mentioned by the insurer (including emergency return) with coverage valid for at least one year in France (+ 3 copies)

If your insurance cannot write a letter with all of the information cited above, you’ll have to purchase a separate travel insurance for a year
.

Note: There is a clear distinction drawn between health insurance and travel insurance.  In other words the policies that come "free" with certain credit cards is not appropriate.

We researched a number of options, mostly geared towards North Americans.  This guy seemed quite switched on:

Carlos Perez
Global Insurance Net.com
cperez@globalinsurancenet.com
www.globalinsurancenet.com

In the end the consulate told us they would accept a travel insurance policy with Southern Cross.  I suspect that this may be a requirement that is vetted locally.

I'm not sure but I think that the key is insurance without limits on repatriation in the event of a medical emergency.

Financial guarantee such as your bank statement showing balances, savings or brokerage account statements (+ 3 copies)

For people wishing to retire in France, proof of sufficient income : pensions, dividens, savings, bank and brokerage account statements (+ 3 copies)

A question that comes up again and again is how much is enough.

I think now the correct answer is you will need to show sufficient funds to provide for your indicated lifestyle. 

For example, if you plan to include a hotel as your residential address then you should have sufficient funds to live their permanently. I think the person checking your application will work out the required minimum allowance based on the information you give them.  

We were also asked to provide proof on the origin of the funds, i.e. to prove the money in the bank account was our money.

And

Even though we were leaving our jobs to travel to France they ask for proof of income.

For interest: our budget worked out to around E4,000 per month for a family of 5.

Key lessons we learn were:

  1. The documentation we provided (bank statements) were not easy to read.  A letter from a bank manager/ official would have been better.
  2. We should have submitted a short covering letter explaining how we were going to support ourselves, I would include a high level budget.

For the lodging, a rental agreement or property deed (+ 3 copies)

If you’re staying with family or friends:

Copy of their French ID card or French resident card An attestation of lodging from family or friends Copy of utility bill and if they support you during your stay in France: their last three paystubs(+ 3 copies)

We had to sign a tenancy agreement, for which we paid a deposit etc.

The agreement specifically dealt with a varied start date, i.e. No sooner than 1 January and no later than 1 April; for a period of no less than 10 months and no more than 12 months.

This was acceptable. 
 

Police clearance

The requirements vary country to country. 

In NZ we had to send a request to the Justice Department to forward a clearance directly to the consulate in Wellington. Takes 2 - 3 weeks.
Letter from applicant certifying that she/he will not have any paid activity in France,

(one of the sites I visited mentioned this needed to be notarised - so that's what we did)
We had a lawyer at Angela's work witness and stamp a very official looking declaration form.

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MINORS:

For children under 18 accompanying both parents the requirements are limited to :

4 application forms filled out and signed by the parents 5 passport-size photos 3 copies of the child’s passport 3 copies of the child’s birth certificate

For children under 18 accompanying one parent only :

A notarized parental authorization from the parent who is not going to reside in France (+ 3 copies)

All school-age children (4-16?) are required to attend school, you will need special permission to home school.

We were told we needed and we provided a letter from the school (principal) indicating that our kids were be accepted to the local school.

Check list for kids:

  1. Application form + Photo
  2. Passport
  3. Application fee
  4. Birth Certificates
  5. Medical Clearance  (note: check for Vaccinations)
  6. Health Insurance
  7. Letter of enrolment to a local school
  8. Notarised parental authorisation (if required)
The French Consulate reserves the right to ask for more documentation if necessary and to refuse the delivery of a visa.

Our complete check-list of submitted and required documents:   Red = Submitted in French 

  1. Application form + Photo
  2. Passport
  3. Application fee
  4. Cover Letter "Raisons principales du voyage"
  5. Birth Certificate
  6. Marriage Licence
  7. Police Clearance
    (submitted indirectly through Ministry of Justice)
  8. Tenancy Agreement for rental property in France
  9. Medical Clearance
  10. Proof of Health Insurance
  11. Proof of Travel Documents (Flight Itinerary & Tickets)
  12. Proof of Financial Means
    1. Bank Statement (Witnessed by Bank);
    2. Proof of Income;
    3. Source of funds
  13. Notarised declaration that we would not seek employment or work

Friday, 26 October 2007

France Rental Update

Been a good week! Quite a few follow ups and some very good ones. Been following up on options from a new web site. The response has been great.

http://www.maisonbleue.net/index_en.php

We may have a venue sorted!!! Don't want to jinx it by publishing details until the deal is done.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Rugby World Cup

Bugger! Waiting for my brother to call and wind me up - fortunately I was out of town this weekend. I don't think I can last four years. Worse thing is everyone in NZ is congratulating me on the yappies victory. Don't they know anything!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

School Reunion

Ange will have to modify this blog and provide details of the reunion etc. I just going to get this entry posted with the pics.

IMG_0567 IMG_0568

Monday, 8 October 2007

Okura Bush Walk

After the devastation of the rugby we felt the need to get back to nature.  Drove up to Stillwater and did the first part of the Okura Bush walk (6km). Had lunch next to the steam at Karepiro Bay and then headed up the hill for the return walk through the bush.  It was furthest we have walked with James, he did really well and got to ride on my shoulders a few times.  Track was pretty muddy in places - which is pretty normal - but there were some complaints about the smell.

picnic   beach
Picnic at Karepiro Bay looking out to Dacre Point   Looking out at Dacre House.  There is a new development proposed on the private land behind Karepiro Bay and there is lots of local opposition to any development in this area.
Tree   tide
Stillwater Bay
More Tree Monkeys    
bush
Bush Track:  Most amazing Nikau Palms, the track is full with them.
     

Sunday, 7 October 2007

France - 20 : All Blacks - Going Home

Very disappointing result. Nothing else to say really. Lets hope the French take out England and Argentina runs rings around South Africa. I don't think we could survive another 4 years of ribbing by the yappies.

At least if the French win will should find ourselves welcome over there next year. Viva La France!

mcaw230

Friday, 5 October 2007

Medical Tests Done

Done and dusted! Five medical forms completed and ready for submission. Hardest part was getting urine samples from the three little camels - this required two trips to courier said samples across Auckland. Yes it was a fun day.

Holiday Fun

September School holidays have flown by. All the boys had lots of fun working on the treehouse, with the new trapdoor fitted. We also had a few games of soccer in the park, a couple of long bike rides and caught two movies: Ratatouille and Startdust. Stardust proved to be the favourite by far with both kids and dad: although I suspect for quite different reasons.




Here are some holiday slides.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Rental Enquiries

Our property search is now getting into full swing. This was initiated by the discovery that we will need to have a confirmed address and school enrolment on our visa application. I had hoped we could wait until our our visas had arrived. Anyway - this is the standard text listing our requirements:

The Bisset family of 5 are planning a grand adventure for 2008. The principal idea is to spend a year in the south of France, absorbing as much of the culture and language as we can. My wife, Angela and I met overseas and both travelled around France, we absolutely adore the place and yearn to travel back and spend some quality time there.

We have 3 young children: Jack 8yrs Henry 6yrs James 4yrs. Our French is very basic but we are learning slowly and aim to get ramp up lessons as we get closer to the time. While we plan to do some travelling we envisage finding a rental property in the south/ south west, finding a school for the kids and settling in to village/ rural French life. Spending some quality time together as a family experiencing the culture, lifestyle is the top priority. We are fortunate in that we will be able to take a year off and have no plans to work while in France. We are both keen sportspeople and look forward to training for and competing in running, cycling and other multi-sport events.

The timeframe is next year, ideally arriving in January or February and leaving in December or January. We are in the process of applying for French Long Stay Family Visa a process which can take 2-3 months. A key challenge is confirming a location/ property and school prior to submitting the applications. Visa requirements do vary according to who we talk to, but having accommodation and schooling finalised would greatly support our visa application. I have been planning a scouting trip to review properties and schools, this trip could take place in Oct/Nov or Dec although it would appear the sooner would be better.

Area:

  • The area we are interested in is quite wide: Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc-Roussillon. I'm particularly keen on the Quercy/ Lot region. To date it has come out on top in most of our searching for property and schools. It is also the area where I have spent most of my time in France to date.
  • We would need to ensure that a suitable school is within 15-30 mins drive. We are approaching this from two ways: looking first at good rental options and then for schools and also the reverse.

Accommodation Requirements:

  • A Farm House/ Village House within short drive of a village with most amenities
  • Furnished, ideally fully furnished and suited to a young family
  • Minimum of 3 bedrooms, ideally 4-5 bedrooms. We expect visitors to stay for short periods so ideally would like to sleep 8 people with relative ease.
  • Ideally some section/ land/ garden for the kids to run around in
  • Ideally a swimming pool

Monday, 1 October 2007

The Lot and Quercy?

In the heart of sunny south west France The Lot and Quercy is the gateway to the South of France. Far enough south to be consistently hot and sunny in summer, but relatively undiscovered by tourism. Many pass through the region on their way to the Mediterranean coast or Spain, a few stay for a night to break up the journey South, fewer still stay; those that do are forever captivated by the land of sunshine and stone. The region covers three of the least populated departments in the South of France... "

Extract from: http://www.frenchentree.com/france-lot-quercy-news/