For members


Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?

Adult non-EU citizens living in France know - or, at least, should know - that they should carry their titre de séjour as proof of residence whenever they travel abroad. But what about children?

Reader question: Do non-EU children living in France need a DCEM document for travel abroad?

Question: Since Brexit, we have our titres de séjour, but our children are under 18 so don’t have them. We have heard people talk about a DCEM for travel – is this compulsory?

Under current rules, children of non-EU residents living in France – including post-Brexit Britons – are not required to have a titre de séjour of their own.

But what about when it comes to travelling outside France, things can get complicated.

There is one document that parents of non-EU minors can apply for called the Document de Circulation pour étranger Mineur (DCEM).

“A foreign minor residing in France is not obliged to hold a residence permit. However, to facilitate their travel outside France, they can obtain a circulation document for foreign minors (DCEM),” reads the French government website.

The DCEM is not required for travel, but it can make things easier – especially for older children travelling on their own.

Plenty of reports suggest that even though non-EU minors are travelling with parents who can prove residency in France, it won’t spare them from being grilled at the border and having their passport stamped. But carrying a valid DCEM would spare all that.

If a non-EU child cannot show a DCEM with their passport, customs officials could stamp their passport on departure and arrival in France or the Schengen area.

This could – in theory – lead to more issues and questions by border police the next time they try to leave or enter France, especially if the two trips are more than 90 days apart, which could see the child classed as an ‘overstayer’.

As non-EU citizens British minors and their parents have also been advised to get the document, as one British father resident in France can attest.

The father who lives in south-west France, said he was told a DCEM was obligatory when he travelled to the UK with his teenage daughter in October for a brief visit.

“The visit was arranged in a hurry, because we’d just learned my father is terminally ill,” he said.

“We knew about the document, but had assurances from the préfecture that we could travel without it. But customs officials at the border handed me a note, with details about the DCEM, as we flew out, having checked my daughter’s passport for an earlier entry stamp, and said we really needed to have it,” he said.

“They also checked for a stamp on our return a few days later. When I said we would get a DCEM as soon as possible, we were allowed to continue, but my daughter’s passport was again stamped. We now have one for her, so future travel shouldn’t be a problem.”

One British mum living in Normandy reported that her 17-year-old son, travelling on his own, was detained and grilled by border guards at Caen when returning to France from a trip to the UK.

Natasha Alexander said: “He had on him his Carte Vitale, his school report, several attestations that he lived here, covid free etc, a facture/bill in my name, a copy of my passport, a copy of my Titre de Sejour. He was held for 45 minutes by douanes (customs) and told in no uncertain terms that he could not prove he lived in France.

“Despite telling them, in fluent French, that what else did he need to prove he was resident? He also did not have a Titre de Sejour because he was under 18 and did not need one. Eventually he was let through but not a pleasant experience.”

READ ALSO What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in France?

How do I get a DCEM?

The child’s parent or legal guardian must apply for a DCEM in advance of any travel outside French borders. You can apply online HERE or at your departmental préfecture. 

Once received, this document lasts five years, or until the child in question reaches the age of 18, or until the parents’ right to reside in France ends.

You will need to supply a number of supporting documents, including:

  • Birth certificate of the applicant (parent or holder of parental authority);

  • Passport (or national identity card, consular identity card, etc.) of the applicant and the child;

  • Family record book or birth certificate showing the established filiation of the child;

  • Applicant’s valid residence permit (unless the applicant is European);

  • School or crèche certificate or any other document for young children that can prove habitual residence in France;

  • Proof of address in the name of the applicant if the minor resides with him, or in the name of the minor if he does not live with the applicant;

  • 2 photographs of the child;

  • Tax stamps (timbre fiscal) in the amount of €50 to be given at the time of delivery of the DCEM; (However an important difference for Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement is that DCEM’s can be issued for their children free of charge. More info here – Print this document.)

  • Form cerfa n°11203 completed, dated and signed by the applicant (the form can be completed online).

Plus, documents proving your parental or legal guardianship over the minor

  • Marriage certificate, or divorce documents for parents who were married at the time the child was born;

  • Birth certificate of the child mentioning the recognition of the minor before the age of one.

As always, any documents not in French will need to be translated.

READ ALSO How Brits in France can secure residency rights for their children

Member comments

  1. Be advised – ETIAS are coming to Schengen as early as May this year 2023! UK citizens (incl. minors) with French residency / TdS may or may not legally require them but they made aid smooth passage…

    It would be useful if could investigate ETIAS.

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For members


Paris airports plan to cut queues with automated passport gates for non-EU travellers

Paris airport bosses have revealed their plan to cut queues at busy periods, including allowing non-EU travellers to use the automated passport gates.

Paris airports plan to cut queues with automated passport gates for non-EU travellers

With one eye on the upcoming 2024 Olympics, bosses at Paris airports have unveiled a plan to cut waiting times for travellers departing and arriving from the French capital.

Aéroports de Paris, which controls Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports plus the private jet terminal of Le Bourget, on Wednesday unveiled its plan to reduce waiting times at passport control – especially during peak periods like the summer holidays and the Olympics next year.

Paris airports will recruit an extra 255 border agents by June, and another 500 by the end of 2024 (in total the border force wants to recruit an extra 1,200 agents across the country in time for the 2024 Olympics).

The other big change is expanding the use of automated passport gates for non-EU travellers, in order to speed the passport control process.

At present the faster automated gates are generally only used for EU citizens at French airports, but the French government says that they can also be used by passport-holders of the following nations;

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New-Zealand
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • United Kingdom
  • Monaco

These are people who benefit from the ’90-day rule’ which allows them to travel to France visa-free for short periods.

Over the next year, Paris airports will increase the number of automated passport gates from 122 to 170 and also lower the staffing ratio.

Perhaps the biggest difference for travellers, however, will be who can use the gates.

Fabrice Gardon, director of the French border force, explained to France Bleu: “The problem is that at the moment the ‘Parafe’ [automated gates] are configured either for third-country nationals or for Schengen nationals, and we cannot change them on demand, so it’s almost overnight.

“This situation will soon be resolved with the possibility of configuring the gates in real time.”

At present non-EU travellers at Paris airports are almost always directed to the staffed passport control booths – which generally have longer queues .

Gardon stressed the importance of ensuring smooth passage while guaranteeing security: “It is the country’s image that is at stake, especially with the Rugby World Cup and the Paris Olympics approaching.”

Plans for extra border controls via the EU’s new EES and ETIAS systems have been delayed until 2024 because of concerns about longer queues, and it is reported that France would like to wait until after the Olympics in the summer of 2024.