Monday, August 16, 2010

old world / new world: identity photos

Sometimes getting motivated to write something on this blog feels similar to trying to find the motivation to exercise; I want to - and I have ideas about what I want to tackle - but somehow laziness and procrastination kick in and I end up putting it off. It's been a lovely summer and we just got back home from a 12-day trip to Holland and I'm slowly easing into a bit of work before September hits. A perfect time to start running and blogging!

This summer has been administration-heavy for me, with needing a new passport, a French driver's licence, a new health care card as well as a new visa de long séjour. When applying for various cards and visas, as well as jobs, an identity photo (or four!) is always required. Remember those photo booths where you took goofy photos with your friends? Well those are considered "official" photos here, according to the government, and I've already made four trips to my local photo booth for all my official photo needs!

New job: one photo
Driver's licence: four photos
Health care card: one photo per card (I'm already getting my second)
Visa de long séjour: four photos

Of course when I needed to renew my passport, I needed two photos taken to Canadian standards, so I had to search out a photographer who could do them for me.

I'm not sure what they do with all these photos, but they  obviously don't believe in in-house digital photography or scanners! I think that this is a bit of an old world/ new world thing, even though photos haven't been around all that long. In France, even when you send in a job application you need to attach a photo (I've scanned mine into my CV) but in Canada I've never had to do that, and it's probably discouraged so as to avoid discrimination. Not so here!

In addition to providing photos, they also require stamps or prepaid envelopes. Just for my driver's licence, I had to provide two BOOKS of stamps! That's a lot of mailing! Apparently before I can apply to take the theory test - a 40-question test filled with trick questions that requires hours and hours of studying to pass - the driving school had to send my application to foreign services to be approved. Once my application is approved, we can book a time for the test (they're group tests given in large rooms to a limited number of applicants). Once I pass my test, I can have driving lessons, at which point they will evaluate the number of lessons I will need before doing my practical test. If I fail my practical test I will need to wait at least 2 months before trying again. Did I mention that I've been driving in France for 10 years and have owned a car here with no problem for the last 7 years? I was allowed to drive here every summer for 3 months maximum at one time and then when I moved here they told me I was allowed to drive with my BC licence for one year and then I would need a French licence. I fail to see the consistency and it feels a bit like a money grab, but oh well. It's probably not a bad exercise to go through!

Once my passport, visa, licence and health care card are here I think I'll be done paperwork (until next year!).

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