18 February 2009

A Passport Issue

WITHIN THE PAST couple of days we've decided to go to Ireland during our winter break. That's great news for Kerri and the kids, and maybe great news for me. You see, I've got a bit of an issue. Maybe someone out there has experience in this area and can help (I already got some good info from Jennie over at ielanguages.com -- thanks!)

My issue: my US passport expires on March 1, 2009 (we're due to fly back to France on March 2, by the way). I have applied for a new one, but I'm not sure it's going to get to me before we fly to Dublin on February 25. If I don't, how screwed am I? Well, I've been going back and forth on this one. At the American Consulate in Nice they seemed to think I should be fine as long as I have my passport, my French residence card, and a receipt showing I have applied for a new passport. Most people I talk to aren't so sure -- they seem to think I am going to have to have a valid passport. After long internet searches and fruitless phone calls to Ryanair and various Embassies, I finally went to the Cote d'Azur airport and talked directly to the information desk at Ryanair. Here's what they told me -- see if it sounds plausible (keeping in mind that the entire conversation was in French so what I heard and what was said may be very, very different.)

According to the woman at the Ryanair desk, I should have a problem. Since I leave before my passport expires I'll have no trouble getting into Ireland. And since I have a Carte de Sejour I'll have no problem re-entering France on March 2. Her main point is that it's the country you are entering that really cares about your visa/passport status, not so much the country you are leaving. Since I am a legal resident of France with working status I shouldn't have a problem.

Does that make me feel better? A little, but not much. I'm still holding out that my passport will make it to Marseilles by Tuesday and I can go pick it up. I'll feel a lot better with that little blue booklet in my pocket.

By the way, this wouldn't even be and issue if Ireland had agreed to the Schengen Agreement, which basically removed systematic border controls between countries in the EU. Britain and Ireland opted out, making my life a lot more difficult right now.

Anyone have experience with this (or Ryanair, specifically)?


Penny said...

No idea about the passport - sorry, but I do hope you have a wonderful time in Ireland. I plan on taking my kids back there when they are a bit bigger.

As for Annecy in the summer, it is beautiful and there are lots of festivals and fun for the kids. The lake is lovely but I still find it a little cool so you may miss the ocean! And of course, you can go for lots of randonnées nearby.

I've got a great link for finding a holiday apartment on my computer at home (I'm on holidays and I cant seem to find it now) so I'll send it to you on the weekend. Its got lots of apartments in the centre of town - not sure if you'd be looking for a house, and there are some lovely areas out further along the lake, althought the traffic is a killer in summer. There is a big vacation rental market in Annecy but it pays to book early! Especially as everything books out in the week of the Animation Festival (oh I forgot to mention that - fun for the parents as well!)

Penny :)

Jennie said...

I think it's going to depend on the Ryanair workers at the airport and if they let you use your CDS as ID. I've heard of other foreigners living legally in a country (Spain, for example) who were not allowed on flights with just their Spanish equivalent of a CDS. They had to have their passport to prove their nationality, which is a big thing with Ryanair since they discriminate against non EU-citizens by charging them to check in at the damn airport.

Also, when you get to Ireland, the customs officials might have a problem with your passport expiring before you are set to leave the country. Usually your passport needs to be valid for the duration of your stay (and sometimes even 6 months after your stay but I don't know if Ireland enforces that).

And when you re-enter France, it also depends on who's checking your documents. If they see you have a valid CDS, but not a valid passport, they could stop you because a lot of officials won't just take the CDS alone. It must be accompanied by the valid passport. But of course, who knows what the actual rules are for all this stuff!

I think I'm being overly pessimistic, but after dealing with French and European bureaucracy on numerous trips and how unfair and random it is, I'd try to be prepared for anything!

poppy fields said...

I think I have a memory of a co-worker not getting into Ireland because he simply forgot his passport but had his French ID card...not sure on the details, though. Can't the consulate issue an emergency passport and speed up the process?