For extra security get a residency card

A ‘permanent’ carte de séjour proves you have acquired a right to stay in France and gives you the same social security entitlements as a French person.

Britons who have been living in France for five years or more can apply for a carte de séjour 'citoyen UE/EEE/Suisse' – séjour permanent and some experts recommend it, saying it may help secure residence rights. Despite the name, the card must be renewed every 10 years.

To apply you need:

  • To write a letter requesting the carte de séjour on grounds of 5 ans de séjour légal et ininterrompu
  • Three passport photographs
  • Your passport
  • A bill (EDF or other utility) showing your address in France and dated in the last three months
  • More bills (or similar proof) showing residence in France in each half-year during the last five years (for example, a bill dated in February of a given year, then another dated in September)
  • French social security number (you will find it on your carte vitale)
  • Work contract (if applicable) and last three pay slips
  • Retirees will need documents proving health cover (ie. S1 form or private policy) plus ones showing you have been in receipt of a state pension and/or tax bills showing you have declared a regular income.
  • For the self-employed you will need documents proving registration for self-employment (RCS, Urssaf or RSI and Insee identification).

The aim of all this is to prove your uninterrupted legal residence in France for a period of at least five years (small gaps are allowable but France should have been your main home).

We advise that you call the prefecture for your department (not your mairie) to double check if additional documents are needed in your case before visiting.

For example, some prefectures ask for a birth certificate and insist that it has been translated by a sworn translator and that it was issued within the last three months (despite the fact that UK birth certificates are permanently valid).

You can obtain copies via www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate.

Note also that work contracts should be stamped at the end with the office rubber stamp, including the firm’s Siret number (if they are not already).

The prefecture will probably ask you to bring in all the paperwork – originals and copies, in person, to a certain desk at its offices.

Find out its opening times (there may be specific ones for dealing with cartes de séjour) and if possible go early, as there may be long queues.
For the location of your nearest préfecture (as well as more information on applying for cards) see service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F22116

When you meet an official, make sure they know you want a UE card for séjour permanent (you could take a print-out from service-public.fr).

A Connexion staff member recently applied for a card. In his experience, if all the papers are in order, you will be sent to see a second official who will complete your application, which should then be fairly quick and simple [note: in reality obtaining the requested 'permanent' card turned out not to be simple, see the updated article for more].

You will be given a récépissé (receipt) valid for six months while the application is processed and you will be notified when the card can be collected.

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