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Archive for July, 2010

U.S. Embassy warns Parisian residents to lock up

Ahead of the summer holidays, Paris area residents are being forewarned to lock up their apartments and be wary of break-ins by organized gangs targeting those leaving on vacation. Message below from the U.S. Embassy Paris. No need to be paranoid, just careful and responsible. Safe travels to those leaving.

U.S. EMBASSY PARIS, FRANCE
RESIDENTIAL SECURITY

July 22, 2010

This Warden Message is being sent to inform U.S. citizens about recent residential break-in trends in France.

During school and national holidays when many residents travel on vacation, well organized burglary rings move into the city. These rings are professional and frequently conduct reconnaissance to develop their list of targets. The Embassy has been advised of individuals claiming to be from a variety of public services (chimney sweepers, painters, garbage men, etc.) using this guise in an attempt to gain access to residences.

The Embassy suggests these simple measures that will significantly decrease your chances of being victimized.

DOUBLE-LOCK DOORS
Even when you only leave your apartment for brief periods, always double lock your doors; doing so engages the three-point bolt locks on the door and makes it much more difficult for a thief to break into the apartment. When your door is only single locked, it can take less than 20 seconds to break in.

CLOSE/LOCK WINDOWS
Leaving a window open and unlocked is an invitation for a thief, no matter what floor you live on. Please lock your windows or use your shutters when you are not in the room.

VARY TIMES
Vary the times that you arrive and depart your residence. Being predictable increases your chances of being targeted.

USE TIMERS
Small, inexpensive timing devises are advised, especially during periods of time when you will be away from your residence. You can use them on lights, radios, and televisions to create the image that you are at home.

CONTROL YOUR KEYS
Limit the number of keys you have; distribute them only to family members and fully trusted friends and be sure that the keys are fully accounted for.

DO NOT LET UNINVITED/UNEXPECTED PEOPLE INTO YOU HOME
If you have not been informed that a visit will occur, do not open the door. If the embassy or a utility company is sending someone, they will notify you either by phone or posted notice in your building. Thieves often use this scheme to “case” your apartment. The best defense is simply not to permit any unexpected visitor into the apartment.

BE AWARE
Always be aware of your surroundings. What’s “normal” for your neighborhood? What’s not?

If you keep valuables in your apartment, hide them in unusual places. Burglars move very quickly and do not normally spend a great deal of time searching for valuables; they take what is immediately available and flee. The first places a thief will search will be in bedrooms under the mattress, on upper closet shelves, in drawers, and in common spaces such as hallways and living rooms where valuables are left in plain sight. We also recommend that you record the serial numbers of laptop computers, MP3 players and other valuable electronics, as these are highly prized by burglars. Having model and serial numbers could assist the police in returning your property if recovered. As always, you should have your valuables insured.
More travel safety advice is available at www.travel.state.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Paris can be reached at 01-43-12-22-22 during regular hours and for after-hours emergencies. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where current Country Specific Information, Travel Warning, and Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution can be found.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada; or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

U.S. citizens living or traveling in France or Monaco are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within France and Monaco. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in cases of emergency.

United States Embassy
American Citizen Services Unit
4, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris Cedex 08
France
Telephone in France: 01 43 12 22 22
Telephone from U.S.: (011 33) 1 43 12 22 22
Website: http://france.usembassy.gov
E‐mail: citizeninfo@state.gov

U.S. State Dept increasing consular fees July 13

I get regular updates from the State Department for travel warnings, news, job openings, etc. They have great resources for those living and travelling abroad. One service I recommend to Americans is the travel registry so that you can register your itineraries with emergency contact information, in case you need to be contacted abroad and you need help from the U.S. government, etc. Think natural disasters, terrorist attacks, crime, etc. It takes 10 min to create a profile, well worth it. Then you can log-in and update itineraries.

They also have a great guide for living in France. This and other links are of course listed on my links page.

But these tools are financed by other services. Consular fees in particular, for passports, visas, etc. Below is an email I just received talking about increases in charges starting July 13. Just wanted to let my American readers know, as well as those planning on traveling to the U.S.

United States Embassy
Paris, France

New Schedule of Consular Fees to Take Effect on July 13, 2010

In June 28, 2010, the Department of State published its Schedule of Fees for Consular Services in the Federal Register. The schedule includes fees for passports, immigrant visas and other consular services.

The 27 adjusted fees are based on a Cost of Service Study completed by the Bureau of Consular Affairs in June 2009. The study, which was the most detailed and exhaustive ever conducted by the U.S. Department of State, established the true cost of providing these consular services, which the Department recovers through the collection of fees.

New Schedule of Fees for Consular Services

U.S. Passport Applications and Other Service Fees

· The total charge for an adult passport book renewal, including the application fee and
security surcharge, will increase from $75 to $110.

· The total charge for a minor passport book (age 16 and under), including the application fee,
security surcharge and execution fee, will increase from $85 to $105.

· The total charge for a first-time passport book for an adult, including the application fee,
security surcharge and execution fee, will increase from $100 to $135.

Other Passport Service Fees

· Additional visa pages fee will be $82.

A complete schedule of passport fees for passport books and cards may be found at this State Department website page.

Notarial Services

· Providing notarial services has increased from $30 to $50 for the first service; each
additional seal has increased from $20 to $50.

Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States

· The fee for the report of birth will increase from $65 to $100.

Immigrant Visa Fees (IV)
The Department is increasing most immigrant visa (IV) processing fees based on results of the cost of service study and also establishing multiple fees. For more information see the State Department website page on consular fees.

***
The U.S. Embassy in Paris can be reached at 01-43-12-22-22 during regular hours and for after-hours emergencies. Our website address is http://france.usembassy.gov. For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs internet website at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Country Specific Information, Current Travel Warning, Current Travel Alerts, Worldwide Caution, and other Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings can be found.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada; or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

United States Embassy
American Citizen Services Unit
4, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris Cedex 08
France
Telephone in France: 01 43 12 22 22
Telephone from U.S.: (011 33) 1 43 12 22 22
Website: http://france.usembassy.gov
E-mail: citizeninfo@state.gov

Country Specific Information is available for every country of the world. These pages include such information as location of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the subject country, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties. We strongly encourage visitors and persons residing in France to refer to the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Information Sheet for France and Monaco at the following webpage: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1116.html.

Your U.S. Passport
Remember to renew your passport and your children’s passports in a timely manner for departure from France. It takes at least one to two weeks to receive a new passport, and you may need to schedule an appointment with our office, so plan ahead if you are traveling soon. Information on passport services is available on our website at http://france.usembassy.gov/passports.html. Important note: the Immigration and Nationality Act (U.S. C. 1185 (b) requires that U.S. citizens enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

Most Expensive Cities for Expat Living

The Economist blogged about this new list of rankings by Mercer, a consulting firm, for the most expensive cities for expats. The final ranking includes 214 cities in order of cost of living that includes “a basket of some 200 items” that includes “housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.”

Who comes out on top? You may be surprised, as Africa has 3 in the top ten: Luanda, Angola (1); Ndjamena, Chad (3); Libreville, Gabon (7). Paris comes in tied with London, at #17.
Why Africa?

The complete list can be found here.

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