Amidst ongoing uncertainty as the Brexit clock runs down with no defined outcome, France has taken particular care to reassure British expatriates that they are welcome to stay, whatever happens with Brexit.

The current situation 

On 29 January, the UK Parliament voted in favour of renegotiating the current deal on the table with the EU, specifically around the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’. Although EU representatives have reiterated that the deal is non-negotiable, Mrs May hopes to secure a modified agreement with Brussels and has scheduled another Parliament vote for 14 February.  

While Parliament also voted to reject a no-deal Brexit, this is not something the UK can alone control. As things stand, unless a formal withdrawal agreement is ratified by both sides or Article 50 is extended or revoked, the UK will leave the EU on 29 March without a deal.  

France’s no-deal legislation  

On 17 January, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed legislation that allowed his government to make quick decisions by decree in the event of a no deal Brexit. This was necessary, he said, “to respect our obligations, to make sure that the lives of our citizens and… British citizens living in France are impacted as little as possible." 

Provided that the same rights are guaranteed for French people living in the UK from 29 March 2019, the new bill enables UK nationals living in France to have:

  • The right to remain without a permit and access existing rights for a 12-month period. 
  • A one-year window in which to acquire formal residency.
  • More favourable treatment than other non-EU nationals.

Although the French government has allowed extra time for Britons to regularise their residency status, they still recommend that this is done as soon as possible, even if a Brexit deal is agreed. 

Residency rights

Once you have been living in France for five years or more as an EU citizen, you become eligible to apply for permanent residency.

Britons who have been in France for under five years should apply for a temporary Carte de Séjour residency card, usually renewable each year. 

Post-Brexit, you would have to apply as a ‘third country national’, but under the terms of the new bill, Britons would need to meet simpler conditions than other non-EU citizens.  

Download our guide to securing residency in France before Brexit

Access to benefits and professions

The bill’s no-deal provisions also preserve the social security rights of UK nationals living in France before Brexit.

UK nationals would also to be able to stay in certain regulated professions not usually open to non-EU foreigners (notaires, avocats, accountants etc.) and to remain as fonctionnaires (civil servants, including teachers in state schools, and nurses in public hospitals).

UK private pension payments

The French Prime Minister’s office says a separate order would “ensure the continuity of certain financial activities, in particular relating to insurance, after the loss of the UK’s financial passport”. This suggests that UK nationals living in France will continue receiving payments from British private pension and insurance companies, even in a no-deal situation.

Next steps

The French government stated it is “empowered to take any other measure necessary to deal with the situation of British nationals residing in France."

However, none of the no-deal provisions are automatic; they would still need to be passed into law by order of the French government – and this relies on the UK government reciprocating for French nationals in the UK. 

The French authorities have set up a website with information on Brexit and the full text of these proposals together with other useful information (in French) at:

The British Embassy in Paris is holding a series of citizens outreach meetings for UK expatriates across France to provide Brexit updates and answer questions:

  • 11 February 2019 - ANNEMASSE
  • 12 February 2019 - CLERMONT-FERRAND
  • 19 February 2019 - MONACO
  • 21 February 2019 - LILLE
  • 25 February 2019 - NANTES

You can find out more and register for a meeting at the British Embassy in Paris website

With the Brexit due date just weeks away, it is sensible to take personalised advice as soon as possible to establish what steps, if any, you still need to take to formalise your residency and secure your future in France. A financial adviser with cross-border expertise can review your tax and estate planning, pensions, savings and investments to make sure they are set up in the best way for your life in France, before and after Brexit. 

Contact us to arrange a consultation

Blevins Franks accepts no liability for any loss resulting from any action or inaction or omission as a result of reading this information, which is general in nature and not specific to your circumstances.