Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Flying children out of France

Bacs and brevets are over and it’s fun time for the children so daughter two is heading to England for a week of fun with a couple of Dutch friends.
I’m not sure what Mrs B said to her brother and family to convince them to put up with a group of teenage girls but they obviously don’t know what they are letting themselves in for…but meanwhile a litle bureaucratic problem has cropped up which is complicating things.
France has a rule called the ‘Autorisation de sortie du territoire’ which says that French children can only leave France without their parents if they have a special form signed and stamped by the local town hall authorising the trip.
No problem, it sounds like a reasonable  rule which specifically  ‘s’adresse a tout mineur de nationalité française‘ i.e. applies to children of French nationality. Good, that won’t be a problem then because English and Dutch nationals are outside the rule.
The airline they are flying with, jet2, include this requirement in their regulations: ‘Les enfants résidant en France non accompagnés ne pourront embarquer sans ce formulaire complété‘ (children resident in France can not take the flight without the authorisation form).
But wait – the law talks of ‘French nationals’ and the airline rules talk of ‘French residents’. English and Dutch children are residents but not nationals, which leaves the challenge of obtaining a form from the town hall for them which is not a legal necessity – and the town hall are (not altogether surprisingly) a bit unhappy about it.
Our own daughter got the authorisation form without difficulty – simply because our own town hall isn’t familiar with the small print of the law. But one of the Dutch children went with their Dad to their local village town hall and were told ‘we can’t give you the form, go to the town hall in the local town  instead. Which they did – and were told ‘we can’t give you the form, go to the town hall in the sous-prefecture (larger town) instead’, which they did.
I’m thinking you can probably guess what they were told when they got there…yes, ‘we can’t give you the form, go to the town hall in the prefecture (capital of the department) instead’.
They were especially amused when they got to the last town hall to be told ‘we are closed Thursday afternoons, come back tomorrow’. Slightly inconvenient because they were now about 60 kilometres from home…and quite possibly won’t get the form even if they do go back.
So now the children seem to be in the curious position that they can only leave the country with jet2 if they have an authorisation form which is not possible to get hold of and is not a legal requirement.
Tricky problem, and only one business day left to sort it out!
If by chance anyone else has had French resident but not French national children fly unaccompanied with jet2 please do let us know how you managed it!

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