Friday, May 30, 2008


I've been in France for a few days spending time with my nieces and nephew. They are a bundle of energy as usual and it's interesting to see how they've developed in the last year. However, today's post is about my frustration in acquiring visas.

I've gone into Paris twice already. Twice to the China embassy and once to the Taiwan embassy-equivalent. The China one denied visa services to me because I don't have a French ID card. "Go back to the US. It's not our problem, it's your problem." Thanks. That's really helpful. Also really helpful are their office hours - only 2.5 hours in the morning.

The Taiwan office was much nicer. My not having a French ID card meant I wasn't eligible for the multi-entry visa. I could only get a single entry...which for the hefty 89 euro price, really isn't worth it. I could fly to the Philippines with that money and just do a visa run and combine a beach vacation into one.

The difference in the offices wasn't about what visa they could offer but in their method of communication. The China office was just plain rude. The Taiwan office was firm, but polite. It's another reminder about why I'm glad I live in Taiwan now.

I've been researching ways to get a China visa - my last one I got in Australia. Turns out I can't use France, Japan, or Taiwan. One option is Hong Kong, but their website says as an American, I have to go to my home country. So, I can definitely use the US, but even then the hassle of getting a flight ticket (why would I buy an expensive air ticket when I could just go in by ferry/bus/train from HK as I originally planned) and hotel bookings is enough to make me just want to go back to Taiwan early instead of heading into China. Plus there's no way I'm flying back to the US to get a visa...and I can't think of anyone unemployed in SF that could do me this favor.

Here's a blog all about the China Visa policy changes and the effect on business people. And another blog entry about how one guy fooled the system.

In case you need to go the Paris offices, here's the info...

France Consular Office for China
18-20, rue de Washington, 75008 Paris
2 min walk from the George V metro stop, off of Ave Champs Elysees across from Louis Vuitton
Visa hours: 9:30 am - noon M-F
On a Wed at 10:30 am I was behind 50 other people. There is a separate line for Olympics visas.
Services only available to those with French identification.

Bureau de Représentation de Taipei en France
78, rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris
Close to the Solferino metro and Musee d'Orsay RER stops
Visa hours: 9:30 am - 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm - 4pm M-F
The woman I talked to spoke Mandarin, French and English fluently. There are publications about Taiwan in English, French and Chinese that you can read while you're there or take away. There were 3 people in front of me and the office only had 4 desks and two chairs, so I don't expect it ever really gets all that busy.

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