In the 2 years since the Brexit vote, I have spent hundreds of hours on this subject and seen so many files that I have lost count. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the effect of the uncertainty on people’s daily lives; the uncertainty and often the indecision of how to move forward. Are you part of the ‘wait and see’ camp or more the ‘let’s get it done now’ camp?
In this month of March, many negotations are underway with the EU and the votes on the 12th, 13th & 14th March will be crucial to understand the next steps in the Brexit saga. In the meantime what should British expats living in France do to prepare their ongoing lives in France? What will be the impact of a no-deal situation for people living in France and just how should one prepare for this? The daily updates on the various media’s are often confusing, frustrating and worrying with so much information that often people are feeling overwhelmed. There are a lot of articles about possible impacts, many of which we have, even now, no comprehensive and thorough picture. So just how do you start getting prepared in this constantly changing arena? I strongly suggest to each of and every one of my customers to extract themselves from the ‘what if’ scenario and start working on the practical and tangible aspects of preparing your future life in France. At this stage it is probably too late to get to your prefecture but the time spent on your file now will not be wasted as at the end of the day whatever the result of the different debates, your paperwork will be ready!
How will a Deal or No Deal Brexit affect your paperwork? Whether a deal is signed or not, your paperwork will still need to be organized and given to your prefecture.
The types of paperwork you will need may be slightly affected in the case of a no deal, particularly from a resources perspective; the process may also be a little more stressful as the time-frames will be reduced to get through the process! Without a deal, there will be a grace period of 3 months to one year for everyone to get their paperwork in order and request the appropriate residency card, not a huge amount of time! Having a deal will, of course, facilitate your applications as there will effectively be a longer transition period for everyone to get their situations either their existing residency cards modified with their prefecture or to get their first requests submitted. Ensuring you have a good paperwork footprint in France can only enhance your chances of making this process smoother.
Bear in mind that residency permits for non-Europeans have always had a cost, so this will also no doubt also be the case for British Expats once they are no longer European. We are still waiting to find out what this cost will be.
No matter how long you have been living in France, from a few months to a few years, you need to establish your ‘paperwork footprint’ in France as stated above. So just what paperwork do we need and how can we prepare for the worst, whilst hoping for the best?
If you are new to France or you are still preparing your file, what can you do now?
If you are starting out in France it’s important that you establish that you are not going to be a burden to the French state. You will need to apply for a Residency Permit either before the Brexit date or if this is not possible right now, start your paperwork footprints straight away by following some of the tips below. The idea here is not to decide which card to apply for but to ensure you have your paperwork in order so that once a clear path has been indicated by the French authorities for British Expats, you are ready with your file:
- Ensure that you have utility bills in your name
- Have your long birth certificates & marriage certificates translated
- Have a French bank account with funds
- Get passport photos prepared
- Ensure your passport is not about to expire (ie 6 months or less)
- If you have not yet paid your income taxes in France, you may wish to make yourself known to your local tax office to request a fiscal number and start paying monthly based on your estimated income.
- If you are already paying tax in France, get your copies printed for :
- Income tax
- Tenants tax (habitation)
- Owners tax (fonicere)
- Ensure you have healthcare (private, French or EHIC)
- Decide which category you are going to fall into so that you can prepare the paperwork footprints you need for that category
- Retired (receiving a pension)
- Early retiree/long stay visitor (living on your investments, savings)
- Worker (salaried person in France)
- Business owner (Auto Entrepreneur & other business structure)
Start putting the file together whilst waiting for the final decisions to come through.
If you already have a European Residency Permit (Carte de Séjour Europeene): bear in mind that this will need to be altered to a non-European card at some stage in the near future. When to change it will be largely dependent upon if a deal is agreed or not. The advantage of having this card is that you will have already proved your financial status so the paperwork will be easier. So the time spent getting this card is not lost. The definite process for the modification of those with an existing residency card has not yet been specified.
If you do NOT have a European Residency Permit: After the Brexit date and again the ‘when’ will be largely dependent on if a deal is agreed or not, you will need to provide a complete list of paperwork, including financial, in relation to your situation in France (retired, worker, business owner etc) in order to apply for the appropriate non-European residency permit. We have been assured by French Government that in the case of a no-deal Brexit, there will be a grace period of 3 months to 1 year for everyone who is living in France to get their files to the prefecture. We still have no information on what the actual process will entail, although one can imagine a visit to the prefecture is the logical answer! So once again, start preparing your file, don’t wait.
If you have been in France for more than 5 years and you do NOT already possess a permanent European residency card
In the case of a no deal Brexit, then you will be given the opportunity to provide the appropriate long stay residency permit however you will need to provide ALL the documents as listed above. In particular proving your resources related to your situation and ensuring that you are not a burden on the French state.
If you have been in France for more than 5 years and you already have a permanent European residency card
In the case of a no deal Brexit, you will still be able to obtain the equivalent card and as you already have proved your financial situation, the modification will be made simpler as you will not need to show all your resources again. In the case of a deal, then your current card will be valid during the transition period and it will be modified to the appropriate equivalent during this timeframe.
I have this has proved useful and given you some steps to help you through the next few weeks and months. If you wish to book a consult to look at your file before a prefecture visit, then click here to book a slot with Tracy Leonetti who has a 100% success rate on CDS files.