There are hundreds of thousands of British citizens living in France, many of whom are worried about their status after 1st January 2021. There are many more thousands who want to be able to live in France before 31st December 2020 to benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement after this date. Time is running out.
Here are some questions we get asked regularly that may help you. The responses here are from government sources and Brexit websites and some based on our year so experience of dealing with immigration.
Its getting late in the year, can I still move to France?
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. This means that the British lost their EU citizenship on this date.
However, the transition period (up to 31st December 2020) was established to allow British Citizens to exercise their ongoing right to freedom of movement. This Freedom of movement allows the British (who are no longer EU members) to move to other European countries up to the end of the transition period and work, create a business or retire. So yes, you can still move to France but its essential that you get here as quickly as possible in order to be able to have the documents to prove you are a resident of France.
Do I need private healthcare?
If you are coming to France, ensure you have healthcare coverage. It is getting late in the day to access the French healthcare system (as this can take up to 3 months) and therefore private would be an alternative. In previous applications, first time applicants could use their EHIC (international healthcare card) but we are not sure that this will now be accepted via the new website.
If you are a married couple, then if one of you arrives in France and meets the residency criteria before 31/12/2020, then the other family members may join later.
If you cannot get here before 31/12/2020, do not panic, it is still possible. It just means that the criteria to be able to live, work and create a business in France will be a little more complex. It also means that the financial criteria may also increase.
I moved to France when the UK was not part of the EU over 30 years, so believe me it is doable!
Is my financial situation adequate?
You need to be able to prove that you have sufficient funds as to not be seen as a financial burden.
When requesting residency status, we are not yet sure of what the financial requirements will be. My advice to clients is to show your different revenue streams (pension, investments, rental income, salaried, business…). If you own a home or a staying rent free at friends or family, this can also be taken into consideration.
Healthcare and the S1
This understandable is a key concern for many of our clients. At this late stage if moving to France ensure you have healthcare cover either privately or via the French healthcare system.
If you in receipt of a UK state pension then you can request an S1 from the overseas healthcare service in the UK (call +44 (0) 191 218 1999). Once you have this, you can contact the CPAM (Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie) on 3646 to prepare your file for submission.
If you are a salaried or small business owner, then you will also be affiliated with the French healthcare system via the CPAM.
If you require as a resident via the PUMA system, you need to have been living in France for 3 months or more. The CPAM will request proof of this so think of utility bills, proof of flight, tax documents. As this may be too late, you should then ensure you have private cover.
If you are an early retiree, you may be asked for an SI which you will not be entitled to. So request it and use the refusal letter for your file.
How can I establish that I am a resident in France and not just visiting for 3 months as we are approaching the end of the transition period?
I call this getting your ‘paperwork footprints’ established as quickly as possible. You want to be seen to be meeting the residency criteria and provide proof of this.
So what is the ‘residency criteria’ that I need to meet?
You need to be able to show proof that you are:
- A small business owner or self employed
- Are an employee with work contract
- Have sufficient funds for yourself and family members not to be a burden
- Have healthcare cover
Proving that you meet these criteria is going to be important for your residency card. The most difficult scenario is for those who are ‘inactive’ and need to show sufficient funds. We have no idea what the sufficient funds are or will be at this stage. Lump sums can be shown however they are not obliged to accept this as proof of ‘not a burden on society’. One could imagine that the minimum funds would be the minimum earnings level of SMIC in France.
It is very important at this stage to show regular residency with your property so at the very least a long stay rental of one year or proof of ownership of your property.
If you are salaried or have a business, then this gives you access to the French healthcare system, so request an attestation of healthcare.
If not, get comprehensive private healthcare for your first year in France.
Where do we apply?
You can only apply online, via the Brexit option here and currently from October 2020: tinyurl.com/vvey9z6.
You have until 30th June 2021 to request your residency card as part of the Withdrawal agreement. We are not sure yet if this date will be pushed back as in France it is actually 3 months later as we were supposed to get access from July 2020.
What will the cards cost?
They will be free.
Will the card need renewing?
The card for those who can prove over five years of residency in France is expected to need renewing every 10 years with a statement that you have not left France for more than five years. The other card should be exchanged for this card when the holder has been in France for five years.
If I already have a ‘permanent’ EU residency card, do I need to request a new card?
Yes you do. If, in the run up to Brexit you applied for a one year EU card or a permanent EU card, then this needs to be exchanged for the new Withdrawal Agreement card. When you go through the online process, ensure you have your card to hand to show them you have already a residency card. The process should be easier if you already have a permanent card in that you should not need to prove your financial status again.
Will we be expected to carry this card at all times in France?
Yes as foreign residents should be able to prove that they are legal residents if ever checked by the police. The card could also be used at the border on entering France to prove that you are not a third country visitor with the Schengen visa limits of 90 days in every 180 days.
I hope that this has answered some of your key questions but if you would like a more personalised service to answer your key questions and help you with your paperwork footprints, then book a Residency & Relocation planning meeting here directly with Tracy Leonetti to get the clarity you need for your situation