Please READ FIRST: Many people have come to this post based on their current status in Morocco regarding the COVID-19 crisis. The process described here should be used purely as informational. You MUST visit the main police office where you are residing to check if you are eligible and what documentation is needed. This has changed recently and does vary city to city.
Ah, the carte sejour. It conjurs up the horror of bureaucratic nightmares, long hours spent in lines, and filling out form after form of personal information.
If you’re not familiar with this process let me explain. In Morocco, tourists who do not require an entry visa, are permitted to stay for up to 90 days. During this time you’re exactly that, a tourist. You can’t get a job, or do much else, so if you’re planning on calling Morocco home you have to apply for residency. This means obtaining a carte sejour (roughly translated the staying card). Every Moroccan carries a CIN or carte nationale.
It’s a national ID card that lists your pertinent information. Essentially it’s the same thing but with a different name for non-Moroccan citizens. Initial applications are good for 1 year and then are extended either yearly, or for 5 or 10 years. This card gives you permission to live legally in Morocco. Once you apply and receive this you’re also consider to have a foreign residence, in the eyes of the United States at least.
There are different categories to obtain the card. I was able to apply as the wife of a citizen. We were worried that because we haven’t been able to register our marriage in Morocco yet (another long story) we wouldn’t be able to apply in this category but it didn’t end up being a problem.
That being said, there’s a ton of paperwork required and it’s not always straight-forward. If you want to apply and are not the wife of a citizen, the process will likely be slightly different. By visiting the office etranger at the head police precinct in any Moroccan city you’ll be able to get a full list of the documents needed. You can not go to ANY police station, it needs to be the central office in the city you are living in.
Here’s the list of documents we had to gather applying as a spouse;
- Translation of my birth certificate to Arabic
- Our civil marriage certificate translated to Arabic
- A copy of our Islamic marriage certificate
- A certificate of domicile + 2 pictures will be needed
- A medical clearance certificate
- Criminal Background Check
- My CV (resume) in French or Arabic
- Copy of my Passport including a copy of my entry stamp to Morocco
- A copy of my husbands CIN
- Document from our Moroccan or American bank showing my husband can support me
- and/or letter from an employer showing employment.
- 6 additional pictures (let the photographer know they’re for a carte sejour)
- You’ll also need to fill out 2 yellow information cards and 2 copies of a white registration paper in the office
- 100 dirhams for the registration
We were able to produce copies of all documents, but each document needs to be legalized and stamped.
Please remember the different classes of applying for the carte sejour have different requirements for what must be produced.
Seems straight forward? Let’s go through some “sticky spots.”
A certificate of domicile
This document is obtained from the closest police precinct. You’ll need some type of proof that you’re living at the address given, like a lease agreement. We live in a family home and so this was more like the police just knew. It’s also the same address I gave on entry so presumably it was somewhere in the system.
A medical clearance
Any doctor will know what you’re talking about if you tell them that you need a medical certificate for the carte sejour. It’s fairly straight forward, making sure you don’t have communicable diseases and are not a threat to other people.
Criminal Background Check
With the initial application you need this document from your home country. Depending on where that is the requirements on how and where to get it will vary. For the US people have had a variety of experiences. In some cases Moroccan police will only accept an FBI report, while others are fine with a local/state police report.
To get this document you can apply online with the Justice Ministry. You will get information after applying on how to follow up and get your document for the application.
This was the vaguest requirement. We had no clue what they were looking for and they were never clear about it. How much money needs to be in the bank to show financial support? Figures vary about the average monthly income for most Moroccans but it’s generally accepted to be less than $600 a month. We estimated that showing we had over a years income at that amount in the bank would be sufficient.
Rumor has it this has changed recently and there is a specific amount now stated (100,00 dirham). Follow up withe the police office to determine if this is the case for you or they’re going with the old way of doing things.
To make this even more complex, we both freelance and our income is largely held in American banks. We were told that documents from our American banks showing deposits would work, but we didn’t want to make things any more complicated, so we went with the holding in the Moroccan account and were successful. I don’t know what the requirement really is, and no one seemed to give us an answer but it must have worked because we weren’t asked any other questions.
Others have been told that they must show regular deposits going into their Moroccan bank account for this to be counted. Again, it’s best to verify this with the police in your city of application.
We returned everything to the Office Etranger and had a brief “interview” of sorts. MarocBaba explained why we had moved back to Morocco and how long we’d been married etc. We then paid our 100 dirham and were given a receipt to come back in a few weeks to pick up the card.
You will be given a paper receipt. This serves as your temporary card and you can use it just as you would the ID card until your physical card arrives.
One other note, everything was in either Arabic, French and Spanish or French and Spanish. Not super helpful but I have enough knowledge to muddle my way through the forms. I’ve been told that applying as the wife of a citizen is the easiest way and really aside from the hassle of figuring out what all the papers were and where to get them it wasn’t terrible.
My card is good for 1 year, and I will have to renew it next year. Ask me then how the renewal goes!
UPDATE: I applied for an extension of my original card before it expired. In order to do this I needed to produce all of the information above, again. Everything needed to be originals and legalized. 1 complete originals set and 2 sets of copies (but all the pages of everything must be legalized at the mukata). As an American I was able to apply for a 10 year residency permit.
The length of time for the second card will depend on your country of nationality. The price is 100 dirham per year of extension (so 10 years = 1000 dirham) I applied in February, and it took until September for the card to be done. How long it takes really depends and there’s no way to know. Again the paper receipt serves as your proof of status – just don’t lose it!