Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Having Keys Made

Unlike the US, where having a copy of your key made is a pretty simple process, keys in France are complicated and patented and have to be ordered from the manufacturer. You will need the "property card" that came with the key. This is a plastic card with an identification number on it that enables the manufacturer to cut the new, blank key via computer. This helps prevent unauthorised copies of your house key, which is handy, but it also serves to make replacing a lost key a bit of a hassle. Without the card, it's possible to get a copy of your key, but that generally entails relinquishing it for about 10 days, so that it can be sent to the manufacturer.

Sounds complicated but still straightforward, right? Well, yes...and no. See, not all keys are secure. Some keys can be copied without a card or an identity check. Only those keys with moving parts or that are so complicated as to require computerised cutting using the original template for that exact key are "safe" to leave with your mechanic. Cheap, mass-produced lock & key sets may be easily duplicated, and those keys that are simple bar keys such as we have in America are also easy to copy. And unlike America, where the words "Do not duplicate" safeguard against the locksmith blithely making a copy - of, say, the key to your post office box, they offer no legal protection in France. So if you've lost your key, it may be possible to get a copy without too much hassle. I wouldn't be the farm on it, though; the French seem to have wholeheartedly embraced Murphy's Law and made it their own. So if you lose your housekey, by all means, check to see if you can get a copy made. But your best and easiest bet is probably just to change the locks.