I can’t quite put on my beret and string of onions yet, but I’m a petit pas closer.

Exactly a calendar month after taking the TCF ANF language test, not the two weeks that was mentioned, I got my results. I’m delighted to say that I passed. You need B1 level (intermédiare) to pass, and the grades ascend from the lowest of A1 to the highest of C2. I got B2 (intermédiare avancé) in the oral expression part of the test, and C1 (supérieur) in the oral comprehension part. As you can probably imagine, I’m rather chuffed.

According to the explanations on the back of my Attestation, getting B2 in the oral expression means that I can express myself in a clear and detailed way on a wide range of subjects in which I have an interest. I can give an opinion, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of something. C1 in oral comprehension means that I can understand a long speech and grasp all the essentials of it. It also alleges that I can understand TV programmes and films almost without effort. I suppose I can, so long as the actors don’t speak too fast!

So now the paperwork assembly begins in earnest. I’ve already made some inroads into this and have ordered copies of my own birth certificate and marriage certificate, and also those of Mum and Dad, from the UK General Register Office. These are due to arrive any day now. I’ll have to send them off to be officially translated.

This requirement for their translation is a bit of a bugbear. It’s not hard to work out what means what on these certificates, and the Préfecture personnel will have seen so many that they know jolly well where to find what info. You can see there might be a need for a translated version if the original is in runes or hieroglyphs, but not for one in a fellow European (at least for a little longer) language.

And actually they shouldn’t be necessary. It’s possible these days to obtain your birth cert and other legal documents in a multi-lingual format. These are called Multilingual Standard Forms and have been available since 2016, when the European Parliament adopted Regulation 2016/1191 on promoting the free movement of European citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain legal documents. These cost slightly more than the standard certificate but obviously save on translation costs, provided the country you wish to present it to will accept it.

France doesn’t seem to know if it will accept MSFs or not. I follow a Facebook page about acquiring French nationality and this subject often crops up in posts and comments. Some Préfectures do apparently accept the certs, but the majority don’t. They waspishly send them back and demand an official translation.

Official translations have to be provided by certified or sworn translators. You find such people on a list on the website of the Court of Appeal for your region. It appears that they charge €30 upwards per certificate translated, and since most people end up needing to submit half a dozen or so translated certs then it’s a costly enough exercise. Once my certificates have arrived, I’ll be making contact with some translators to see who’s available and for how much, and to find out exactly how the system works. I think you can submit scans rather than having to send them your precious documents through the post, but I’ll be clarifying all that imminently.

Watch this space!