Even though Brexit has now been implemented, many property buyers are still wondering what post-Brexit requirements mean for them in regards to securing French residency. Anyone who hasn’t yet gone through the process will be unsure of what’s required and if it’s even possible to move to France following Brexit.
One of the biggest differences between pre- and post-Brexit is that British residents who hope to purchase a property in France and move there full-time (or, more specifically, for more than three months at a time) must attain a visa.
What is the visa process, though? How complex and difficult is it to get residency in France post-Brexit?
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can still move to France after finding your dream property and what’s required to live in France for an extended period of time. That includes living there temporarily, like while on holiday when you visit your second home, or moving there full-time.
What Did Brexit Change for Property Buyers?
While the Brexit process began in January 2020, British nationals had the chance to move to France without having to meet additional requirements through the end of that year. Many people made their move to France right before the cut-off period to avoid dealing with what was to come.
For some British nationals, moving to France meant retaining the European identity they were used to. For others, buying French property was a lifetime dream that was easier to fulfill pre-Brexit, which is why they hastened the process. Additionally, some people felt they had no choice but to move if they wanted to continue working in Europe post-Brexit.
But for buyers who weren’t able to make their property buying decision before 2020 ended — or who didn’t know they’d eventually want to live in France — navigating the process post-Brexit, when they no longer have free movement rights, is full of unknowns.
To look on the bright side, buying property in France and relocating there is still possible despite the fact that there are a few more steps for British nationals to follow.
(Also note that other post-Brexit changes include a higher income requirement for living in France and the need to attain a minimum level of language proficiency.)
What Do You Need To Do if You Want To Move to and Live In France?
The main difference between moving to France before and after Brexit for British nationals is that now you’ll have more bureaucratic tasks to handle. But while it can seem complicated to apply for a visa or French residency, it’s more a matter of organisation than anything else.
Applying for a Long-Stay Visa Post-Brexit
You don’t need to apply for a visa if you’re simply visiting France or staying for less than three months at a time. That means that you can make property buying trips to France and look for a home without yet applying for a visa.
When it’s time to stay in France for longer than 90 days at a time, though, you’ll need to apply for a visa. Luckily, the process is fairly simple and cost-effective.
The French Visa Application Process
There are two long-stay visa options if you’ll be in France for more than 90 days at a time:
- Long-Stay Visitor Visa: With this visa, you can live in and, under some circumstances, work in France. The typical length of the visa is one year, though sometimes people can negotiate longer terms.
- Temporary Long-Stay Visa: This is the visa to apply for if you’ll be in France for 3 to 6 months out of the year. For example, if you buy a second home in France and will only be spending part of your time there, a temporary long-stay visa may be the best option. With a temporary long-stay visa, you won’t be considered a French resident, which means you won’t need to submit a French tax return.
To apply for a long-stay French visa, you’ll need some or all of the following:
- Proof of your legal residency in your country
- Valid passport with 2 or more blank pages that won’t expire for the length of your stay plus 3 months after leaving France
- Three passport-sized photos
- Accommodation for your entire stay in France (the title deed of your house or your rental agreement, for example)
- Proof of sufficient income to support yourself during your stay (bank statements, for example)
- Travel and/or health insurance policy
- Printer and scanner
You’ll apply for your long-stay visa 30 to 90 days before traveling to France. You can’t apply earlier than 90 days before you travel.
It’s possible that you’ll be able to complete the entire visa process online, and you may be finished in just a few minutes if you have all the supporting documentation on hand. However, some people are required to visit the French Consulate General in person.
After submitting your application, you should be able to see the status of your visa authorisation in your client portal online.
About the Passport Photos
There are specific guidelines to follow when it comes to the photos you’ll submit:
- You’ll need identical photos that aren’t more than 6 months old
- The photo size must be 35mm by 45mm
- Photos must be in color; they can’t be in black and white
- 70% to 80% of the photo should be of your head
- The background should be light gray and unpatterned; don’t wear clothing that matches the background
- You must look straight into the camera and make a neutral expression
Make sure you fully understand and comply with the photo requirements so that your visa application doesn’t take longer than necessary.
About the Global Health Insurance Card
Since Brexit, the European Health Insurance Card is no longer valid for UK citizens. In its place is the Global Health Insurance Card. This insurance provides UK nationals with medical benefits, and the application form can be filled out online.
Applying for French Residency Post-Brexit
You don’t have to live in France full-time to gain residency. A French resident can be anyone who wants to stay in France for 6 months or more. In other words, when a visa doesn’t give you enough time to stay in France, you’ll opt for one of the different types of residencies available.
While the French residency permit, or the carte de séjour, is a physical card with your photo and signature, there are a few types of residency types you can apply for. Note that carte de séjour is also a term used interchangeably to mean French residency.
- Temporary Residence Permit: This lasts for 6 months and covers non-work residency needs, like seeking asylum, volunteering or taking care of a sick family member.
- Multi-Year Residency Permit: People who currently have a long-stay visa may be issued this type of permit, allowing them to stay in France for up to 4 additional years.
- Retired Persons Residency Permit: This type of residency can last up to 10 years and is available to retirees who support themselves using their own resources, such as investments, rental income, pensions, and other financial sources.
- Permanent Residency: This lets people live and work in France for up to 10 years.
There are different categories for the multi-year residency permit based on your reason for living in France: employed, self-employed, student, family life or private matters, and business creation or job search.
The Carte de Séjour Application Process
To apply for permanent residency, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your local government headquarters. Come to the meeting prepared with the following documentation:
- Proof of your permanent address in France (for example, an electricity bill or the house deed; if you’re renting, bring the rental agreement)
- Passport and visa (both the original documents and photocopies)
- Three passport-sized photos
- Signed work contract and details of the work contract
- Proof of sufficient financial resources for 5 years
- Marital status information, including birth and marriage certificates for family members (including French translations)
- Birth certificate with an official French translation for any child less than 3 months old
- Declaration of honor about your stay in France
Additionally, non-European citizens must meet a minimum level of French language proficiency.
During the application process, which can take between 4 to 8 weeks, you’re typically not allowed to leave France. And once you have your carte de séjour, you’ll also be allowed to freely travel to Schengen countries for up to 3 months without applying for an additional visa.
Final Thoughts and Advice About Moving to and Living in France After Brexit
While the process of moving to France is more complex and costly than it used to be, it’s still possible for British nationals to relocate post-Brexit. For home buyers who have their sights set on France, these administrative hurdles aren’t nearly enough to keep them from following through with their plans. Gathering paperwork and filling out forms is a small price to pay for having a primary or holiday home in one of the most beautiful, cultural and exciting countries in the world.