Why France Immigration Means Getting Undressed

December 11, 2014
Why France Immigration Means Getting Undressed

pink pangea foreign correspondent It isn’t often you get asked to take your top off in Paris. On the beaches, this may happen, but it is getting less popular to go fully topless due to increasing awareness of skin cancer among the French. So why, in the middle of November, did the France immigration officials ask me to remove my shirt?  Don’t worry, I’ll clear up the confusion below!

Why France Immigration Means Getting Undressed

Who does this affect?

Any holder of a long-term French visa who will be living in France for longer than the 90 days.

What does this involve?

Getting your residency permit will definitely involve taking your top off because you will be getting a chest x-ray.

Why is this necessary?

Because as part of the French immigration process, you need to have a chest x-ray to make sure you don’t have tuberculosis. The x-ray is the only one-visit test they can organize. The skin tests for tuberculosis require at least two visits.

When will this take place?

When you file for a French residence permit, which you should do as soon as you arrive on a long-term French visa and have your housing situation sorted out. Within 90 days of your entry, the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) will schedule a doctor’s appointment for you at the local prefecture. Do not miss this.

Just a warning, this might take longer than 90 days. There are a lot of people going through this very bureaucratic process.

What happens?

You arrive at the appointed time and place, check in with the receptionist, and wait. Then you are moved to a holding room and asked to remove your top and all of your jewelry (including piercings) from your entire top half. And then you wait. There will be other people in this holding room, likely behind curtains or dividers. Someone will come escort you to the machine, so you will need to walk topless through a few rooms with your escort. While you are topless, the doctor will ask you about your health. Then you get your residency sticker, put your top back on, and enjoy your new experience with French bureaucracy.

Sometimes you might be asked about your family medical history. Your doctor may not speak much or any of any other language except French. You may get berated for your weight, the state of your health, and whether or not you will be able to bear children (yes, this happened!).

If you are a woman of a more modest disposition, keep in mind that only a few people will see you undressed. Your doctor may be male or female and the escort may be male or female, but this is a French doctor’s office. They will not actively make you comfortable, but they should also not make you feel uncomfortable.

Try not to take any of it too personally. Their job is to make sure that you aren’t bringing any risky diseases into the country. And then you’re legally a resident in France! Congratulations!


Photo for Why France Immigration Means Getting Undressed by Unsplash.


About Felicity Foster

Born in Canada, raised in the US, and traveling all over the world since for work (and fun), Felicity is beginning her MA in International Affairs in Paris this year. She just finished her MPH at Tulane this summer and has a keen interest in engaging young people (especially women) in health awareness and education.

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