Equivalence and Carte Professionnelle
Compiled by Geoff Unger with assistance from Margaret Wheeler, Miles Smart, and Laurence Raybois
Background Information: There have been some new developments for foreign guides working in France that have come to light this year, and as a result of these changes the guides at the SNGM (the french guiding association) have asked the AMGA to communicate information to US guides about what is needed to work in France. According to the French law, if a foreign guide is working in France, he or she must apply for the following:
1. Recognition of their guide’s diploma (Equivalence)
2. A guiding license in France (Carte Professionnelle)
These laws apply to guides from any country, working with clients from any country. For reference, note that these laws and processes have been evolving over a period of years, but their implementation and enforcement has come into focus in the past year (2010 – 2011).
Disclaimer: Please note that this summary has been built as a result the experience of guides who have gone through the Equivalence process. What you are required to submit may vary or evolve!
Equivalence and Carte Prof: Context and Information
The first step in the process is to gain your Equivalence. This is where the French government recognizes the guide diploma that you have obtained in your home country. Items 1-9 are required for your Equivalence application. Items 10 – 12 are related to your Carte Prof (see below), but should be submitted with your Equivalence Application. The second step in the process is to apply for your Carte Professionnelle. Further details for this process (including the application form) will follow in updated versions of this document.
Included here is the content of a letter from Laurence Raybois, a consultant who has been assisting US guides in navigating the paperwork and structural landscape of living and/or working in France. She sheds more light on the both aspects of the process, and offers insight into the situation.
In the last couple of weeks, it has come to my attention that the guides wanting to work in France are now being asked for more documents than had been previously needed, when applying for their equivalence to the French Ministère des Sports.
When the first such case was brought to my attention, I dismissed it as a mistake, particularly since, just a few days earlier, I had been on the phone with the administration in charge of processing all requests, on behalf of one particular guide going through the process, and was told nothing that would indicate that things had changed. After I started hearing about other such situations, I decided to get to the bottom of it. I had a preliminary conversation with Marc Vernier a week ago, and a longer conversation with Céline Fiore last Friday. Both of them, and a few other people, make up the staff of the Pole national des métiers de l’encadrement du ski et de l’alpinisme. The office is where the process starts for all the equivalence requests. Here is what I learnt:
There are actually three parts to this issue. I will describe each part first, then explain how they intertwine and result in the above situation. Back a little while ago, the Syndicat National des Guides de Montagne, seeing that a lot of foreign guides were now coming to work in France, lobbied the Ministère des sports in Paris and obtained that all incoming foreign guides be subjected to a 1-2 day sort of continuing education session meant to acquaint them with the specificity of the profession in France. The French government refers to it as “recyclage.” This is just now starting to be implemented.
Independently from this, it was brought to the attention of the French government that very few of the foreign guides were getting their carte professionnelle. In order to make it happen for everyone, it was decided that foreign guides had to show (and therefore be in possession of) their carte professionnelle at the recyclage.
The above would have been fine, and very easily done, if it were not for the fact that, independently from all of this, the administration delivering the
Carte professionnelle had decided to require that foreign guides first go through the recyclage process as a condition to obtaining their carte professionnelle.
So, in summary, the incoming foreign guides are now finding themselves in a situation where one needs A in order to get B, but also needs B in order to get A. While this sounds incredible, it is not that uncommon in France. I have recently run into such a situation regarding car registration. You need a valid Carte grise in order to get your contrôle technique validated, but you need to have your contrôle technique validated in order to renew your Carte grise. If you have an expired Carte grise, then you are out of luck, and it usually takes a sympathetic government worker to unofficially waive one of these requirements for the situation to be resolved.
When the Pole national de l’encadrement des métiers du ski et de l’alpinisme became aware of this situation, they decided to get involved, in order to keep the above scenario from happening, possibly to be helpful, but also to avoid needing to undo the mess, one case at a time, after the fact. They inserted themselves in the carte professionnelle process, creating a temporary carte professionnelle status for each incoming foreign guide seeking an equivalence, and at the same time as the equivalence. CélineFiore explained to me that they don’t go all the way through in processing the carte professionnelle, but go far enough that it gives guides the opportunity to go through the recyclage. Once the guide has gone through the recyclage, the carte professionnelle’s process can then be finalized. So, for the past few weeks, each time they received a new equivalence request from an American guide, they promptly wrote back, asking for more documents that were meant to process the carte professionnelle, and not the equivalence. However, they offered no explanation, leading many of you to believe that your request had been denied, or your equivalence file was incomplete. Céline Fiore assures me that nothing has changed in regards to the equivalence.
The three documents needed for the carte professionnelle are (1) a document stating that you have no criminal background, (2) a statement from your physician that you are physically able to practice your profession, and (3) proof that you have very basic French skills, as needed to handle emergency situations (there is a twist to that requirement, so please read further).
Document (1) can be obtained very easily from the State Patrol in your state. Those of you who are going through a visa/Carte de séjour process will need it for that as well, or possibly already have it. I made the point to Marc Vernier that that was a state, and not a nationwide document, and he said that they would accept it. Document (2) can be done by your US physician, if that’s what works for you, and I was told that it would be accepted. Just for your information, this is a very common request in France, so physicians are used to writing these without even looking at you, and for the modest sum of just over 20 euros. Document (3) is something I first discussed with Marc Vernier a week ago. He said that any document from a school would do, or, if preferred, one could stop by his office to just talk…so that he could make that assessment himself. Yet when I talked to Céline Fiore a few days later, she specifically said that I should convey to all the guides not to worry about the language requirement, and simply provide the first two documents. She took me by surprise, and I asked again at the end of the conversation. She repeated her initial statement. It does not mean that the legal requirement goes away, but, rather, that it is acceptable to submit an application without the third document.
I hope that you will find this helpful. By all means, please let me know if your experience appears to contradict any of it. Céline Fiore asked for my contact information so that she would pass along to me any changes in French legislation that might impact out-of-EU mountain guides, and I certainly will pass this on to you. I asked if she knew of any forthcoming changes, and she said she did not. The SNGM was successful in bringing about such a change, and I hope that they will leave it at that.
Very best to all of you!
The following is a list of documents to include in your Equivalence Application. Please see “Contacts and Resources” below for translation resources and other sources of assistance to navigate this process.
1. Completed and Signed ‘Dossier Demande D’Equivalence’ (In French) – see Reference Document 1 for the blank form.
2. Letter of Motivation – In French – Hand written and signed
3. Photocopy of Passport
4. Copy of your UIAGM guide card
5a. Copies of all your Certificates from the AMGA and AIARE Level III Certificate
5b. Translations of those into French by a certified translator.
6a. Letter from Executive Director of the AMGA attesting to your certifications
6b. Translation of that letter
7a. Letter from an employer attesting to your character and qualifications
7b. Translation of that letter
8a. Guiding Resume
8b. Translation of your guiding resume
9a. Copy of the AMGA curriculum (including prerequisites)
9b. Translation of the curriculum*
10a. Copy of your criminal record
10b. Translation of that by a certified translator
(You may also want to submit a photocopy of your drivers license from your state of residence)
11a. Medical Certificate stating that you are fit to carry out the guiding profession.
11b. Translation of that document by a certified translator.
12. One of three documents attesting to competency in the French Language (Document in French)**
a. Copy of a certificate from an assured French language program
b. Copy of a certificate justifying your level of French by a specialized organization.
c. Copy of a document attesting to professional experience acquired in France
Note: It is a good idea to have competency in French to work as a guide in France, however, the French may be a bit more flexible on this requirement. Submitting an attestation to your competency in French will only aid your application.
*The 2011 AMGA curriculum and program description is being translated into French and should be available in electronic format in early March 2011. Please contact the AMGA office after March 7 for information.
**Please see reference to this in Laurence’s letter, above.
Where to send your documents:
Attn: Céline Fiore
Direction Départementale de la Jeunesse et des Sports
11 Avenue Paul Verlaine
38034 GRENOBLE CEDEX 2
Téléphone : 04.57.38.65.38
Télécopie : 04.76.40.82.14
Messagerie : firstname.lastname@example.org
Contacts and Resources
1. Consulting for Living/Working in France
Laurence Raybois Consulting
2. Certified Translator (this means that the content of the translation is researched and verified).