WHAT NOW? In a new column about what to do in unexpected situations, we look at retrieving lost objects
Supermarket or shopping centre: objects that are turned in are usually kept on the spot for about 5 days. They’re then passed on to the police or the Service des Objets Trouvés (lost and found department) at the local mairie. The store is the place to start because they usually keep a record of anything turned in and of what they did with it.
Public transport networks (bus and train): the station or depot where the object is found keeps it for 24 hours before turning it over to their own centralised lost and found departments. For national train lines, these are in the Paris station that corresponds to the start of the line. For local trains they are in the main local depot (Nice in the case of Alpes Maritimes and Toulon in the Var). Airports have a lost and found service where objects are kept for two weeks before being passed on to the police. This is to allow passengers some time to make a claim on their return flight. The lost and found number for Nice airport is 0820 423 333 (Ä0,12/min) and answers daily from 06h00 to 23h00.
On the street: Objects turned in to the police go directly to the Service des Objets Trouvés. City Hall switchboards can connect you. To reclaim an item from here you will have to show proof of your identity and of ownership. Certain mairies or police stations ask you for a “droit de garde” payment of €10 for objects of an estimated value of under €762 and up to 3% of the estimated value of the object for higher value items. This is fixed by prefectoral decree and may vary, or in some cases, be free.
If none of this works, make a declaration at the police station nearest to where you think the item was lost. A copy of this declaration (“main courante”) may be needed for insurance purposes in any case. Your declaration will be on record and has a chance (however slight) of being cross-referenced with found objects in some cases.
An unclaimed object at the Service des Objets Trouvés with an estimated value of under €50 is kept for 90 days during which only the owner can recover it. Then it is kept for a further 30 days when either the owner or the finder (legally called the “inventeur" of the object) can reclaim possession. First come, first served. After a total of 120 days it is usually destroyed or given to charity. For higher value items the owner can reclaim it for a year after which it is available for a further 6 months to either the finder or the owner. It then is referred to the “Administration des Domaines” who authorise it for public sale. Extremely high value items are usually auctioned by the “Domaines” near Paris after evaluation by experts. Information on these exceptional auctions can be obtained on 01 45 11 62 62.
It goes without saying, the quicker you act, the better. And an ounce of prevention, such as keeping photocopies of all important documents like passport, driving licence, car papers and so forth, goes a long way in these situations. Search our site here (type in Lost Objects in the Search box) for more tips.