How to Get Your First Carte de Sejour in Morocco (or not)

I will outline here my experience in getting my first carte sejour for the reference of those who follow.
Critics – this is my experience. Yours may be different. I don’t make the news, I just report it.

My Circumstances: 

  • I am Canadian;
  • Single, never married;
  • I own a business in Morocco as a sole proprietor / gerant;
  • I rent an apartment in a well managed “American” complex with a large administrative office, and
  • I only speak English.

My Application: 
I am applying for my first carte de sejour (valid for one year), as a business owner. The list of documents is different if you are married, retired, or employed. This turned out to be a mistake as you will find out at the end. Domiciliation is non-negotiable here. Online business’s too.

Key Words: 
Moqataa – the administrative office in your area that housed the CAID and the “boom boom room”. You go here to get stamps on your photocopies, register papers and have things legalized. You will find the CAID on the upper floors and they seem to manage the resident status (not to be confused with the residency card or carte sejour). In Marrakech there is one just near the European cemetary in Gueliz and also past Victor Hugo near the military base. I’m sure there are others if you look.
Legalized document – You go to the Moqataa and find the room on the first floor where they stamp documents (I call it the Boom  Boom Room). You wait in a weird line format and when called your papers will be examined and stamped and signed. All your photocopies need to be legalized in this way to prove they are good copies.
Prefecture of Police – This is the building on the route de Fes in Marrakech just across from Bab el Khmiss.
Overall Tips and Tricks: 
In retrospect, I should have hired a knowledgeable, Moroccan accountant, who would obtain many of the documents for me and also get them legalized for me.
You have to be organized. This process is exactly like cooking meat, potatoes and vegetables to be served at the same time. All the parts need different care, preparation and timing but they all have to served as a whole. If you burn the meat, you gotta start over.
Learn how to pronounce Moqatah in Darija. The endless clueless looks and then relentless mocking and repetition but every taxi driver in Marrakech is worth the practice time.
Small change. Have a lot of it. You need small change to photocopy. You need it for the endless taxi trips to the Moqataa and back. You need it to pay the stamp man in the Boom Boom Room. I was asked for 2 dh and gave 10 dh and that was the last I saw of it. You will not get change. Have a lot of coins.

PRO TIP: The toilet in the Prefecture de Police is unisex and all squatties. Monitor your coffee intake prior to going there.

PRO TIP: I arrived around 9:45 am. I was the 3rd person in line at the time. By 10:30 the place was packed. Do not delay.

Timing:
You can start to gather things whenever you like, but once you start to get certain documents, you have 3 months. Do NOT assume that is a lot of time. You have to get things that you don’t have control over and time is precious. This process takes A LOT of time. Do it when you are not traveling or focused on another big project. Time will slip by and then next thing you know, the potatoes are overcooked.

THE DOCUMENTS

There is a list of documents you need.
It varies based on who you talk to and the most authoritative list is posted at the final stop on this Amazing Race, inside the Police Prefecture and the last place you need to go.
Its posted on the wall in French and there are no cell phones allowed inside so you have to have a pen, language skills and or an idedic memory to access it. Or ask an Accountant or two or three because their lists vary. There is some information posted online on Moroccan websites, but on review I have found their lists do not meet reality very much.
The Big Two Documents:

Police Background Check from your country of previous residence – 2 copies / legalized.
The document that started my count down clock for the 3 month validity date was the RCMP background check with fingerprints and a photo from Canada. I had to be in Canada to get it, although I did not research the process for NOT being in Canada and asking for it.
Mistake: I should have waited until the last possible minute to get it, to give myself more time on the Moroccan side. However, I did not know how long it would take to receive it by mail because I had to go to a third party agency, they submit to the RC’s, then the Mounties mail it to me directly. It’s Canada. It took 10 days. But…..I didn’t know. I also thought 2 months in Morocco to complete the process was a lot of time. I was wrong.
Certificat de Residence Pour les Etrangers– 2 originals are issued, no copies needed.
This one tripped my up big time and took an extradordinary amount of running around, so get this early.
Either this one or the background check above are going to be your ticking time bomb to the three month expiry.
I should have done this the minute I got back from Canada but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
To get your Certificat de Residence you need the following:
Residence lease –  2 copies / legalized
Attestation of Something – 2 copies / legalized. The original was provided to me by my building administrative office. It says I live here. It was legalized by them at the Moqataa, then I had to copy it and get the copies legalized.
Then you take those 2 documents to the CAID which an office upstairs at the Moqataa where you need to give that lady:

  • 4 photos;
  • A copy of your business statuts / legalized;
  • A copy of your business bank statements for the last 3 months;
  • A copy of your passport / not legalized; and,
  • A copy of the last entry stamp from your passport / not legalized.

You will then be given an application paper to complete. This paper is simple – name and address, passport number. But you have to have this paper and all the others, reviewed and signed by Mr Caid.

This is a man who is the Chief of the area where you live.

He will sign the paper and stamp it in red. Once this is complete you give it back to the lady and it has to be proceeded. It will not be processed quickly. Mine was done overnight but I cried. Literally. I cried and she did it same day.

Once all of this is complete you get 2 copies of the Certificat de Residence.
This goes in your folder for the Police submission.

Mistake: Be careful with the Mr. Caid signature. He moves around and has no desk it seems. You might have to call him on the phone (language skills needed) and set an appointment. You have to have his signature or everything stops.

Also,  the lists you see showing what you need say 8 photos. YOU NEED 12. You have to give 4 photos for this one certificate alone.

Personal Documents: 

Medical note from the doctor.
Just go to the Doctor and tell them Carte Sejour. It’s different based on each doctor but mostly you just get two handwritten letters in French that say things about you being healthy.
12 photos. See notes above. Get 12 photos. Tell the photo place its for carte sejour and they should know what to do.
Passport first page and the page showing your last date of entry to Morocco. 3 copies / legalized.

Get 4 done because its not going to hurt and you never know when you will need this. **
This is another time sensitive document because it has to be done with your last entry stamp and therefore within the last 90 days. You can be all uber organized and get this done when you are passing a copy shop. Within 3 months. Safi.

Personal bank statements for the last 3 months – 2 copies / not legalized.
Lease at your residence – 2 copies / legalized.
Business Documents:

Company Statuts – 2 copies / legalized
Trade register of the current year – from the Commercial court – 2 copies / legalized
Certificate of Registration for the professional tax – current year – Commercial court – 2 copies / legalized
PV of General Meeting – stamped and signed by The Accountant and then copied – but not legalized
Tenancy contract of the company –  2 copies / legalized
Last balance sheet of the company – 2 copies / legalized (this one is 20 pages – be forewarned)
Bank statements of the company for last 3 months – 2 copies / not legalized
100 dhs per year of validity – which in this case is 1 year.

And that’s it. That’s all. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy.

SUBMISSION:

Go the Prefecture de Police. Go first thing in the morning. Do not bother taking anyone with you for language help because they are not allowed in. Do not take anything of value other than your phone and a small amount of money. You will have to leave your phone and your passport these at the door and collect a visitors card.

Go to the office on the right – first floor. Wait. A lady will review your papers and then give you forms to fill out. Then you will get a receipt and you can go away and wait for news.

*** WARNING: I was denied.
My domiciliation is a rental office and this is not acceptable.

I have an online business and there is no need, budget or worldly desire to rent a commercial space for my business in order to check this box.

If you do not have a commercial lease for an office or proof of ownership for an office, don’t bother. You will likely not cross this hurdle.

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