Do Brexit rules require me to be in France on December 31?

Some readers are concerned about whether it is possible to lose rights to remain in France under the Brexit deal if they are not in the country as the transition period ends

15 December 2020
By Liv Rowland

Do I have to be physically present in France on December 31 to qualify as a resident of France and benefit from the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) deal?

No, it is not necessary to be physically present in France on December 31, just before the UK ‘fully’ leaves the EU, to benefit from the WA deal.

As long as you can give evidence that you had moved to France to make it your home by then, that is sufficient, even if you are out of the country at the end of the year or at the start of next year as ‘full Brexit’ comes into force.

You will however, in order to apply for one of the new WA deal residency cards, have to be able to show some evidence of having your home in France in 2020, such as an electricity bill, rental contract, taxe d’habitation bill (as main home) etc.

Note however that to benefit from the deal you should technically have excercised your EU right to free movement, and for this you do need to at least at some stage have ‘moved’ to France in a physical sense even if you have had periods of absence since then.

This is relevant for example to British students who have enrolled on courses in France before the end of 2020 but have not yet physically travelled to France, for example due to issues related to Covid-19.

These students should have physically ‘come’ to France by December 31, according to the WA rules.

They will not in practice be asked for any more supporting documents than other groups, for example a French rental contract or utilities bill, though of course it is unlikely that someone who has not come to France would be able to show such evidence.

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