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Why I Now Keep ID on Me at all Times: Case Studies

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 31 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Id Passport France Supermarket Debit

There are some parts of your new life in France that are really easy to get used to – the delicious, cheap local wine, the fresh bread and the excellent motorways, for starters – but there are others that take a little longer to get used to.

For David Ellery, 39, who moved to France with his wife and young family to start a new life in the sun, he learnt about keeping ID about his person the hard way.

David told us, “When we first moved to France there was so much to get used to that we basically stumbled through the first few months. We purposefully moved at the beginning of summer so that the children would be able to settle in a bit before school started, so we had a couple of months to get used to our new home.”

During this time, David and his young family organised their belongings in their new house, registered with a doctor and tried to make their new house feel like home.

Another Regulation to Learn

David continued, “I knew all about the different regulations regarding keeping the high visibility triangle and vest in the car and we started intensive language courses straight away, but what really floored me was a particularly distressing visit to the supermarket, which taught me a lesson I wont forget in a hurry!”

Having set up a French bank account, both David and his wife had French direct debit cards, like UK Switch cards, and French cheque books. One day they went to a major supermarket chain and stocked up on the weeks groceries.

David said, “The first few trips to the supermarket were really expensive because we were building up our store cupboard – all those ingredients like stock cubes and balsamic vinegar that you don’t have to buy every week once you’ve got your cupboards sorted – so we had a really full trolley. When we got to the till, my wife and I decided to pay by cheque.”

It was this simple decision that taught David the lesson of keeping ID on his person at all times. He wrote the cheque and handed it over to the cashier to have the details printed, as you would be able to in a British supermarket, and handed her his debit card to match up the details.

Asking for Official ID

The cashier then started to make a phone call, which David and his wife thought was a little strange, but their French was not yet good enough to be able to ask what was happening. They offered to pay with the debit card itself, or another credit card, to avoid holding up the ever-growing queue, but the cashier was not able to override the initial cheque.

David continued, “It became clear that the person on the other end of the phone was asking for some form of ID from us, I don’t know if it was because we had a new account, but I’ve since found out they ask everyone paying by cheque for ID. I thought the debit card would be enough, but no; I ended up getting out everything in my pockets – UK driving licence photo card, my car insurance details, anything I could think of.

The cashier said she needed to see my passport or resident’s card – neither of which I had and nor did my wife. It ended up that she had to void all our shopping then put it through again so that we could pay by credit card. There was much huffing and puffing from the queue! Needless to say, I keep ID with me at all times now!”

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