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I am currently a senior and will soon apply for my French Visa for my studies in France, I know that they will stick this large visa in my passport as it's my main way to enter and exit France however on a daily basis, what can I use as an ID? I'm sure as hell ain't gonna take my passport everywhere I go, and the ID issued in my home country is not in English. Do I get a carte de séjour or is that something else?

  • As a foreigner, you are required, apon demand, to prove your legal status in the Schengen Area. Until you receive your residence permit (which is a plastic card in most cases), your passport is that proof. In Spain, you are required to have this proof with with you at all times. In others it is less stringent, but you can be detained at the discretion of the authorities if you don't have the proof with you. – Mark Johnson Apr 10 at 11:19
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    @MarkJohnson It's perfectly legitimate for nationals and non-nationals alike to question unreasonable laws. Protesting is allowed too and even civil disobedience should not expose anybody to disproportionnate punishment. – Relaxed Apr 10 at 19:47
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    @MarkJohnson “Guest” is the ugly German word for people who happen to be non-citizens. Your comment epitomizes the thinking behind that word but really justifies nothing. The notion that some people are not entitled to aspirations, feelings, opinions or political activity, should only leave their country if they are prepared to be treated and behave like children or that the country they live in is forever not their own is legally and morally baseless. And “proportionate” to what? That's a notion that only comes into evaluating government action, especially punishment, what does it mean here? – Relaxed Apr 11 at 11:54
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    @MarkJohnson Obeying the law is generally a good idea for foreigners and citizens alike, that's not what's at stake here but the notion that non-citizens are “guests” who should accept a position of inferiority and not have a say or opinion on what's reasonable or not. You can in fact do both at the same time. And, yes, the word Gastarbeiter is exactly what I was referring to, no redefinition here... – Relaxed Apr 14 at 13:28
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    @MarkJohnson I am well aware of the context and there is nothing in there that contradicts what I wrote, just as the subtext of your comments was very clear. It is still offensive, whether you realize it or not. – Relaxed Apr 15 at 12:28
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Usually, students get what is called a visa long séjour valant titre de séjour (VLS/TS) and in principle you do need to carry that with you to be able to prove your right to reside in France. You would not get a carte de séjour immediately but only apply for one at the end of your first year in France.

Not having it is not a criminal offense and you cannot be punished for it but the police is allowed to keep you up to 24 hours while they check your status. If they are reasonable, they might let you recover the passport and present it to them but it's not a given. Carrying other semi-official documents like a student card from your university might also help (or it might not). And depending on how you look and where you live, police checks are not unlikely so carrying your passport might be necessary to avoid a whole lot of hassle.

If you do get a carte de séjour then using that is fine, you don't need a passport or any other sort of identification as that's not mandatory in France. Some members of my family lived in France for many years using only that, without even renewing their passport.

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Normally, your ID outside of your home country (where you are a citizen) should be your (travel) passport. So, you need to use it "on a daily basis".

An ID and visa are different things. You might need to identify yourself to many people (bank, hospital, ticket controller in the train, post office and so on), but most of them do not have the right to check your visa or residence permit, which is usually also not an ID on its own.

AFAIK, the article L611-1 of the Code for Entry and Residence of Foreigners in France and the Right of Asylum requires all foreigners in France to permanently carry an ID with them. However, I never lived in France and cannot provide any details on how exactly is it in practice.

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  • L611-1-1 is also relavent, since it contains the conditions of possible containment (24 hours, fingerprinting and notification of public prosecuter etc.). – Mark Johnson Apr 10 at 11:47
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    That's not what L611-1-1 is about, you need a proof of your legal status, not ID. It is never mandatory to carry any form of identification in France. That might not help the OP immediately but that means in particular that a carte de séjour is sufficient. – Relaxed Apr 10 at 19:36

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