I just had a remarkably easy trip into Bergerac to sort out some paperwork.
First stop, the caf (the people who handle child benefit) to tell them about the recent change in our domestic situation.
The caf itself has changed a lot since 2007. It’s evolved from a hostile place, where you were made to feel like a scrounger and a burden on the state, into something far more friendly and service oriented.
My previous draconian experiences helped smooth the way, though. Instead of taking the few bits of paper I thought they might want to see (a strategy that invariably leads to multiple trips to the caf), I took all possible files in a large shopping bag. A short wait. Some confusion over the wording of a form (a form provided by them and which took three people to understand), and I was in and out of there in minutes. Job done. (Hopefully. I’ll keep an eye on the post box.)
With unexpected time on my hands, I went to the Chamber of Commerce to see if I could add a few activities to my Auto Entrepreneur (translation: self-employed) status. This wasn’t necessarily going to be easy, as the former Her Outdoors attempted this on the Internet, then over the phone, and was charged about €120 for the changes. But fortune smiled on me again and I found myself sitting in the office of the woman who helped put me on the system in 2013. She added everything I do and am planning on doing – free of charge. (More on this, later.)
Face to face with a human, I learnt that great changes are coming to the Auto Entrepreneur system. Presumably, someone will write to everyone and explain what’s going on before the form-completing deadline of December 18th this year. I also discovered that the Chamber of Commerce is being moved from Bergerac to the regional capital of Périgueux. Which means that next year, many more people will have to struggle their way through the impenetrable government websites.
I’m not sure who this will make life easier for, but I ingenuinely hope they’ll be very happy.