Travelling in Europe with a Family Record Book

Extract from Récit de Sabrine • 35 years old • Woman • Egyptian

The employee at the Prefecture replied: “But you’re married! You don’t need a residence permit anymore. All you need is your family record book. — Keep it with you at all times so you can show it if you’re asked to show your papers, that’s all.” I asked her, slightly surprised, “Are you sure?” She said yes, surprised at our naivety, “You are not the only ones in this situation, there are lots like you.”

I therefore stayed in France for two weeks after my visa expired, with my family record book as the only proof of my status. When I finally managed to leave, my flight stopped over in Munich, Germany. The problems began in the airport of that Bavarian city: they discovered that I didn’t have a valid visa for the EU and because of this I couldn’t continue my journey to Egypt. They took me to an office of the airport police; I was sort of in detention. They began asking me questions in order to understand why I had stayed in France after my permit had expired and what I was going to Egypt for… they were suspicious. In fact, as they explained, the lady at the Prefecture in Marseille hadn’t specified that the family record book was only accepted as proof of status in France and that therefore I couldn’t go to any other European country.

At the airport in Munich, they told me there were two options open to me. The first, the most drastic, was to be deported to Egypt. I asked what would happen when I arrived at an Egyptian airport, and especially, what would happen when I applied for another residence permit for France or indeed any other country in the EU. They couldn’t answer my question.

The second option was the most absurd, but also the one which would avoid being deported: because I was married to a European citizen I could only leave the EU if I was accompanied by him. My husband had to be with me when I crossed the border, ie. passport control in the German airport.

They explained that it was a way to ensure that I was leaving the EU with my husband’s consent and that I wasn’t trying to “flee”because of a problem involving him or the French authorities.

This was the way they could protect my husband, the EU citizen: they gave him until 10 pm to come to Munich in order to stop my expulsion. And to do so, being in Avignon, the only solution was to buy a plane ticket on the first available flight at a cost of 1500 € (a nice way of protecting him!).


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