Getting Inked in Paris
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting Inked in Paris

I'm a pro now? (shakes head)
Then there’s that time when you realize that you still don’t know everything about Paris. I needed to get my fingerprints taken for my dossier, so I convinced myself that I could get them taken at any of the many public law enforcement offices. No problem. No fuss. No cost.

First the commissariat, then the prefecture, then the special judicial office, one after another, all looked at me like I was from another planet – which I basically am as someone looking for fingerprints in 2014.

The US needs fingerprints for background checks, which is apparently not the case in France, where a simple online form takes care of it. Yes, while getting most any other paperwork requires hurdles, a background criminal check is a few clicks away…

The French office workers and police were happy enough to listen to me, and even entertain my request with a few phone calls. But they were mystified by the request. “America is really strict,” one worker said. “I’ve worked here for years and I’ve never heard that request before,” another responded. “I cannot help you at all. I honestly have no idea,” said another. Bewilderment all around.

Defeated, hungry, and damp from the rain, I walked home, passing an Office Depot en route. A three euro inkpad found its way into my bag (I paid for it) and home I went with a mission. If the French weren’t going to fingerprint me, by George I’d do it myself.

So I spent the afternoon checking out videos on Youtube of how to fingerprint oneself. It’s not easy, nor were my hands in good condition for it (apparently they are quite dry, as seen by the cracks in the prints). Nonetheless, I managed to roll a few fingerprints out, with minor mess. Hopefully somewhere among the four pages of prints, the FBI can use them to verify that indeed I am who I claim to be. I’ve seen worse fingerprints on Law and Order be used to identify people, so surely it’s the same in real life. Mariska Hargitay wouldn’t lie.

Choices...
Scrub time...

Now as I scrub my fingers with a pumice stone, trying to rid myself of the remaining ink, I will await the FBI’s response, fully expecting a rejection of my homemade prints. Or worse, what if I so flubbed my prints that I’ll be taken for a criminal and hauled off to some prison upon my next trip to the US?

Fortunately there are services in France to get them done if this is the case. One expatriate has already responded to my request, and the prints aren’t that expensive. Still, for such a basic service, I am hoping that my budget attempt will work, as a matter of pride. And besides, I think I may have scrubbed my fingerprints off trying to clean them, so I may not have another chance…

6 comments:

  1. Haha it's a big biz in the US
    I got them and then paid an online to expedite the criminal bkgrds check.
    Makes you feel like a criminal...

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  2. Delighted to find your blog, Bryan, to add to my ever-growing list of Paris and travel blogs!

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  3. I had the same problem in Lyon!! But some nice man at the Commisariat ended up taking pity on me and doing my prints. Good luck with your "home-made" prints!

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    1. Thanks -- they totally worked! I'm quite proud :)

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  4. Bryan what did you put for the official taking prints? I'm encouraged by your story as I am desperate to get this done, and have been rejected by everyone!

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    1. I did my own official fingerprints :) Take a look at the post -- I think it's all explained!

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