Brexit checklist to complete before December 31

Brexit will apply with full impact, including changed residency rules in France, from January 1, 2021, as the transition period ends. Here's what you need to put in place beforehand.

30 September 2020
A placard reads 'je suis EU' at a Brexit protest. Article: The pre-Brexit checklist to complete before December 31st. Photo by Ludovic Morlat / UnsplashThe pre-Brexit checklist to complete before December 31st. Ludovic Morlat / Unsplash
By Connexion Journalist

Anyone moving across from January 1 will not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) deal agreed between the UK and EU, which retains the key rights to live and work in France that Britons benefited from as EU citizens. 

Here we give our checklists to prepare for the change, depending on your scenario. You can also use the UK government’s official checker tool at gov.uk/transition to assist with this.

If you are an existing British resident

Residency

Apply as soon as possible for one of the new residency cards for Britons by logging on to invite.contacts-demarches.interieur.gouv.fr from mid-October. Britons will be obliged to have applied for a card by June 30, 2021, to stay in France legally, although an extension to this has been requested in light of delays to the launch of the site.

There will be two kinds of card: one for Britons who can show five years of continuous residency in France, and one for Britons who cannot. The latter will obtain a temporary card and will have to reapply for a full card once they have completed five years.

What documents do I need to apply for a French residency card?

You will need to provide supporting documents as PDF, JPG or PNG files, which you have scanned (or possibly taken a photo of on your phone if the image is clear and large enough). 

You are expected to need, as a minimum:

1. An identity document (usually your passport, scanned opened at the page with the photo)

2. If you already hold a long-term residency card as an EU citizen (carte de séjour – séjour permanent), then a scan of this should be all that is required, along with ID.

Otherwise, you are likely to need:

i. Proof of when you started living in France, such as a short-term residency card, a lease contract, homeownership certificate from a notaire, home insurance contract, work contract;

ii. Evidence of financial means to support yourself, such as a last tax statement or payslip, retirement pension statement or recent bank account statement;

iii. Proof of healthcare cover (see below)

Once you have applied on the site, you should obtain a récépissé (receipt) giving legal proof that you have applied within the time limits.

If you are close to having spent five years in France, you may wish to wait to have proof of this, to obtain the ‘full’ card rather than a temporary one. If this is the case, do not leave your application to the last minute (June 30, 2021) but – for example – if you are able to prove residency from February 2016, then you may want to delay applying until February 2021.

Related: Will France extend the date to apply for Britons' Brexit cards?

Healthcare

If you are a worker, make sure you are registered for French healthcare through work. If self-employed, ensure your business is registered for social charges, for example as a micro-entrepreneur. If you are a British pensioner, obtain an S1 form from the DWP and register this with your local CPAM. It does not matter if you do not (yet) have a carte Vitale health card – what you need is the attestation de droits form which the CPAM can provide once you are in the system.

If you are an early retiree and have not done so, you might consider taking out a private healthcare policy covering more than just the ‘top-up’ element covered by mutuelle insurance policies. The law says it should be ‘comprehensive’ and give comparable cover to the French state system, though this has so far never been strictly enforced and no label for ‘approved’ policies was ever established.

Also, consider applying to your CPAM for healthcare in the French system under the ‘Puma’ scheme, on residency grounds. It is common for CPAM offices to ask for evidence of living in France for at least three months, eg. utility bills, etc. 

If in doubt with points relating to residency rights and card applications, seek help from one of the bodies accredited by the UK government to assist with Brexit formalities.

Find details at gov.uk/guidance/living-in-france under Visas and Residency. Charity Cancer Support France also offers nationwide support to Britons with this, as does the Old School.

Bank accounts

While the UK is in the transition period you have a right to open a ‘basic bank account’ at a British bank. This is unlikely to continue once the UK has fully left EU rules, so consider opening one, especially if you have, or will have, UK incomes you may wish to pay into one. Some UK banks are also reconsidering services they can offer residents in the EU, so check with your UK bank if you have one.

Related: Britons in France face banking issues post-Brexit

Tax

Make sure your tax affairs are in order. Annual tax statements are a good way to show regular income for residency cards.

Finances

Consider taking financial advice on tax implications of Brexit or ways to protect income from currency rate swings if you rely on UK income. Our online Money section has information on tax issues around Brexit. Or, find advice from financial columnists in our money pages in the monthly print edition of The Connexion

Qualifications

If you have UK qualifications you rely on in France for work, check if you need to obtain official recognition of your certificate before the transition period ends, especially if you work in a highly-regulated profession. Seek advice from a French professional body for your sector. Information can also be obtained from Enic Naric.

Passports

You will need to maintain a valid UK passport, but as a resident, it does not need to have a minimum time left on it to run.

UK driving licences

Consider swapping for a French licence at permisdeconduire.ants.gouv.fr. Bear in mind that delays have been reported with this service. However, applicants do not send their licence in the initial application but wait for an attestation de dépôt certificate which allows you to drive in France for four months while you wait for your French licence.

Next year the application may become more complex. It is not clear yet how France will treat UK licences from 2021. Usually, non-EU ones must be swapped within one year of arrival, but a 2019 decree in the event of a no-WA deal Brexit said France would continue to recognise UK licences of those living in France before Brexit. This may be reactivated for licences of those living here before 2021.

Obtain an insurance green card if you will be visiting the UK with an EU-registered car or caravan. The UK has not yet decided if a French international driving permit will be needed to use an EU licence there.

If you are a Briton moving before 2021

Many of the points above apply. You can obtain a short-term card and then apply for the ‘full’ card after living in France for five years.

Residency

You will need to be able to prove that you were living in France as a resident before the end of 2020 to benefit from the Brexit WA deal. See point three in the section above about documents for applying for a residency card. You must have a home in France, so a lease contract or proof of home purchase will be valuable as long as it is dated in 2020.

Healthcare

Official French sources have, in the past, stated that an Ehic is acceptable as evidence of healthcare cover for legal residency in the first year of moving to France from another EU country, even though these are intended for visitors rather than residents.

It has not been confirmed if this will be acceptable to obtain a post-Brexit residency card. After January 1, a UK-issued Ehic will not be a valid health document. As a result, see the points in the section for existing residents under “Healthcare”.

Tax

If you are moving to your former holiday home, tell the tax office it is now your main residence for local property tax (habitation and foncière). Depending on income level, taxe d’habitation may no longer be payable. You should inform HMRC that you have left the UK and are tax-domiciled in France.

Car

Get a French contrôle technique for your car as a British MoT certificate will not be recognised.

Mairie

If you are moving to a small town or village, visit the mairie and introduce yourself to the mayor.

If you are a second home-owner

Non-EU visitors to the Schengen Area (including France) should ensure their passport has at least six months left to run on the day of travel. To be sure of not falling foul of the rules, check it was not issued more than nine-and-a-half years ago.

Travel health insurance

Obtain quotes for comprehensive travel health insurance, including all healthcare needs while in France as Ehics may no longer be valid (this could be an annual policy, or per trip).

Mobile phones

Check with your mobile phone company about call, text and data roaming charges, and limits, as firms will no longer be obliged to provide ‘free’ roaming in the EU.

Paperwork

Check with travel operators what paperwork you may need at the French border. In theory, you could be asked for proof of finances to support yourself during your stay (cash, travellers’ cheques, bank cards…), a return ticket, medical insurance up to at least €30,000, and any document clarifying the nature of the trip and where you will stay.

Car documents

Put a GB sticker on your car. Obtain an international driving permit from a post office (it is possible France will waive this, but unconfirmed).

90-day rule

Plan your trips considering the rule that you cannot spend more than 90 days in any 180-day period in France. This will be checked at the border.

Pets

If bringing a pet, you should visit a vet four months before to ensure you have the right documents, as British EU pet passports will no longer be valid.

Related: How to change UK pet passport to a French version

If you are moving in 2021 and after

Rules for establishing residency in France will be different and aligned with those for other non-EU citizens. Bear in mind that it is possible that UK state pensions will be frozen when you relocate and it will probably not be possible to ‘export’ British disability benefits.

Residency

To stay longer than three months in France, you will need a visa from the French consular service in the UK. See this website for more on how to apply. Once you have a visa and come to live in France, you will have to apply for a non-EU citizen’s residency card. The name of the card, the requirements, the rights conferred by it (eg. whether you are able to work) and how long it lasts before you must apply for renewal all depend on factors such as status (worker, retiree, student…), income, qualifications and work sector.

More details on types of residency card are at service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/N110.

Income

You will need to show a certain level of income – for retirees, this is at least €1,219 a month per person – or have a work contract in France, or a sound business project, with at least €30,000 to invest in it.

Healthcare

For healthcare, you will be covered by work. If not working, you will be expected to join the French system under the Puma scheme. Depending on income levels, you may need to pay an annual fee for this.

We cover these issues in further depth in our Help Guide on Brexit and Britons in France. It is in a digital format and updates automatically as significant new information is released and we update the guide.

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