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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any advice on how to find an interpreter in/near Nîmes? They wouldn’t have to be certified, just fluent in English and French and able to interpret live conversation. My husband & I are going to the prefecture there to exchange our US drivers licenses for French permis de conduires. My French language skills are pretty spotty and I don’t want to be turned down over a simple communication issue.

We already have certified translation of the official documents. Now we're just looking for personal assistance speaking with the officials. I have tried internet searches to no avail, maybe I'm using the wrong terminology.
 

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You are exchanging because you are living in France, and you want to learn French? Why not use this visit as an opportunity to plunge into French? The vocabulary is neither difficult or extensive....so be brave?

Perhaps you need to ensure you understand all the French on the forms involved, plus the other terms used in dealing with officialdom.....proof of address, birth certicates...etc etc?

Of course, you already know the usual forms of politesse? Bonjour monsieur /madame, bonne journée etc.

Go on, be brave! Tell us how you got on.

DejW
 

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Any advice on how to find an interpreter in/near Nîmes? They wouldn’t have to be certified, just fluent in English and French and able to interpret live conversation. My husband & I are going to the prefecture there to exchange our US drivers licenses for French permis de conduires. My French language skills are pretty spotty and I don’t want to be turned down over a simple communication issue.

We already have certified translation of the official documents. Now we're just looking for personal assistance speaking with the officials. I have tried internet searches to no avail, maybe I'm using the wrong terminology.
Certified translators can assist (interpreting is part of their role), but it would likely cost you an arm and a leg. If you don't know someone who speaks both French and English who can accompany you, then I would strongly recommend you go armed with a dictionary (of moderate size, not a pocket version) and also ask them to write down anything you don't understand (you can pretty much do that by gestures) - it's a good idea anyway, especially if they ask for something additional. Chances are that the officer at the Prefecture either has some English, or a colleague or supervisor does. Or maybe you are taking French classes and can ask your teacher to recommend someone? I really think this is one of those situations where it's best to just dive in and do your best.

Not the easiest time of the year BTW, given summer vacation.

Good luck. Remember, in most instances these process go perfectly smoothly when you have the form properly completed and all the supporting documentation :)

Good luck
 

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OK, the ideal would be for you to find a French speaking friend or neighbor or other acquaintance who would be willing to go with you to the prefecture.

If you have to go with hired help, just be aware that there is the same distinction in French as in English. A traducteur (translator) is someone who translates in written form, while an interprete is someone who translates orally (most often for meetings or presentations). Unfortunately, both forms of translation services can be somewhat costly.

As DejW says, you may simply want to screw your courage to the sticking place and attempt the prefecture on your own. Just be sure to consult the Prefecture's website information on exchanging driving licenses. More and more prefectures are requiring you to take an appointment online and will not accept your just showing up unannounced. (There's also the issue of the summer staffing of the prefectures.) Just had a look and Nimes is definitely one that requires you to take an appointment. / Permis de conduire / Démarches administratives / Accueil - Les services de l'État dans le Gard

And frankly, the easiest way to deal with it is to print off the information you get when making your appointment, then print off the document you get from this page / Permis de conduire / Démarches administratives / Accueil - Les services de l'État dans le Gard under the rubrique Echange d'un permis hors Union Européenne. Take the document with you. And if you get "stuck" in French, do the old point-and-gesture routine. You will be far from the first to have done things like this and at least you'll show them you are trying. You might just be pleasantly surprised.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alas, bravery only goes so far in France, one must also satisfy the bureaucracy! We already tried this once and failed. Our situation is not straightforward and we were unable to talk our way into French licenses the first try. That was in Carcassonne. We have now moved to the Gard and are giving it a second go in Nîmes. This time we have more translations. Wish us luck!

Glenda
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, Bev! Good suggestions, as always. We have checked out the website and made an appointment. People here have always been very helpful and sincerely try to understand bad French. Point and grunt is also very effective.

We understand most of the requirements posted. One bullet point that doesn’t quite make sense to me reads, “original de l'attestation émanant de l’état de délivrance du permis de conduire étranger prouvant la validité des catégories du permis de conduire, la mention «*le permis de conduire n’est frappé ni d’annulation ni de suspension*» doit y figurer (et sa traduction par un traducteur agréé auprès du tribunal de grande instance si elle est rédigée en langue étrangère). Cette demande est à adresser au service étranger qui a délivré le permis de conduire*;”

Don’t quite know what they are asking for there. Any thoughts?

Glenda
 

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Thanks, Bev! Good suggestions, as always. We have checked out the website and made an appointment. People here have always been very helpful and sincerely try to understand bad French. Point and grunt is also very effective.

We understand most of the requirements posted. One bullet point that doesn’t quite make sense to me reads, “original de l'attestation émanant de l’état de délivrance du permis de conduire étranger prouvant la validité des catégories du permis de conduire, la mention «*le permis de conduire n’est frappé ni d’annulation ni de suspension*» doit y figurer (et sa traduction par un traducteur agréé auprès du tribunal de grande instance si elle est rédigée en langue étrangère). Cette demande est à adresser au service étranger qui a délivré le permis de conduire*;”

Don’t quite know what they are asking for there. Any thoughts?

Glenda
They are asking you for a document from your home state confirming the category/ies of your licence (which vehicles you are licensed to drive) and that your licence has not been suspended or cancelled, setting out any penalties - i.e. your driving record. This document should also be translated by a certified translator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
They are asking you for a document from your home state confirming the category/ies of your licence (which vehicles you are licensed to drive) and that your licence has not been suspended or cancelled, setting out any penalties - i.e. your driving record. This document should also be translated by a certified translator.
Thanks, makes sense. We do have our driving records from the last two states we lived in, and they are translated. Hope it makes them happy!
 
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