Many Britons yet to apply for French residency card with 14 days to go

British Ambassador urges every adult Briton to apply for their free, obligatory card, to maintain their right to live in France as campaigners call for extension to June 30 deadline

16 June 2021

Many Britons live in rural areas of France Pic: shutterstock.com / GranTotufo

By Liv Rowland

Britons in France have until June 30 to apply for a free and obligatory ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ residency card – but many have not yet applied, says the British Embassy. It is urging all those affected not to miss the deadline.

It comes as campaign group British in Europe is calling on all EU countries with obligatory deadlines to extend them to the end of the year.

Around half of EU states chose not to allow Britons living there last year – and therefore able to benefit from the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) – to remain without an obligation to apply for a residency card. Of those that require an application, several have December 31, 2021, deadlines, two have September 30 and The Netherlands recently extended its deadline from June 30 to October 1.

The others, in addition to France, with an obligatory June 30 deadline are Malta, Latvia and Luxembourg*. This was the minimum set by the WA.

Campaigners British in Europe are calling on the UK, EU and member states to back an extension of deadlines to the end of the year in all states, saying more time is needed for ‘outreach and awareness’ especially for Britons who do not use the internet. 

It said in a statement: “Having negotiated and ratified an international treaty that removes the rights of hundreds of thousands of citizens, there is an overwhelming moral obligation on all signatories to ensure that every single one of those citizens and residents is aware of the change in their status and what the consequences will be if they miss the deadline to reapply to keep those rights.”

If the French deadline remains in place UK nationals who were living in France in 2020 will lose their legal residency rights on this date as they will no longer be able to apply for one of the cards, which every ‘WA’ Briton will be obliged to have by October 1. 

This does not apply to those coming to France from January 1, 2021 who will have to follow standard visa and residency card procedures for non-EU citizens. The obligation also does not apply to Britons aged under 18 or those with another EU/EEA/Swiss nationality.

Some 135,000 British adults are known to have applied in France however the British Embassy said in a press statement that ‘many still need to apply’, despite the looming deadline. Applications must be online at this website.

French national statistics body Insee estimated in a report last year that 142,000 British-born migrants (including children) lived in France, based on census data. However many believe this to be an underestimate. In 2010 the then British Ambassador told The Connexion the embassy had a ‘working figure’ of 400-500,000 British residents.

The requirement includes people who already hold a carte de séjour for EU citizens, are applying for French nationality, or are married or pacsed to French or other EU nationals. The new card is specific to Britons and says on the front Article 50 - TUE and on the back Accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l’UE.

British Ambassador to France Ed Llewellyn said: “With just two weeks remaining to apply for residency in France, my message to UK nationals here is clear: If you have not done so already, you must apply for residency today. Submitting your application before June 30 is vital to protect your right to live here, and your future in France.

“Please do not delay if you are missing certain documents – you can explain your situation within the application form. The important thing is to apply and support is available if you need it.

“I also urge French people to ask their British friends, neighbours, spouses or family if they have applied for residency. Every UK national who arrived in France before January 1 this year needs to apply, so if you know someone who hasn’t, please encourage them to start the process.”

The Connexion has not heard reports of rejections and most of those who have applied report the process to be quick and easy, especially for those who have lived in France for more than five years.

Each person must make a separate application but children under 18 do not need to apply, unless they need a residency permit to work or will turn 18 close to the application deadline.

Those who do not apply by June 30 will no longer have legal residency status in France and will have no defined route to apply for it other than returning to the UK and making a new visa application from there. The French authorities have previously said there will be some leeway for those with good reasons for not having applied on time but it is very strongly advised not to rely on this.

Visa and carte de séjour processes for Britons wanting to live in France and not eligible for the Withdrawal Agreement process are relatively costly, more complex and time-consuming, and involve additional requirements in terms of paperwork and means tests.

UK citizens who may need more support to apply can access help through the organisations funded by the UK government's UK Nationals Support Fund. The four organisations can help with language barriers, answer questions about the process and help guide people as they apply.

The UK government is also encouraging all UK Nationals in the EU to consult its Living in France guide which has a relevant section on ‘visas and residency’. They can sign up for alerts to receive the latest information about what actions they may need to take.

Further information about Brexit requirements is also available at France’s website brexit.gouv.fr

Note that if you have applied on the French website and received an acknowledgement email with a dossier registration number, all should be well, though you should ensure that you respond to any emails asking for further information. Also check your spam folder regularly or add ‘gouv.fr’ to your safe emails list.

The Interior Ministry has told The Connexion that prefectures will be sure to invite all who apply by the deadline for the required appointment to hand in a photo and to give fingerprints (by an electronic scan), as well as to issue cards by October 1.

If however, you applied last year, or on the website that was temporarily set up in 2019 for cards that Britons would have needed if there had been no WA deal, and have not heard anything, we would advise contacting your prefecture by email via its website, to check that there are no issues. Applications on the old site are meant to be honoured for issuing WA cards, however we would expect them to have been processed by now.

Also, if you applied on the 'no-deal' cards website and have since moved departments in France you need to apply again on the new site. This is also the case if you applied on the new website and then moved to a different department.

The UK is also requiring EU citizens living in the UK to apply for its so-called ‘settled status’ by June 30 however it pre-empted signing of the WA using its own national law to open applications on March 30, 2019, compared to October 19, 2020 when the official WA residency cards website opened in France. Opening applications for obligatory WA cards by the start of 2021 was the latest allowed by the WA deal.

Read more

British Ambassador's June column in The Connexion: Residency card deadline is looming 

Four bodies offer free help with Britons' residency applications 

* EU information website Your Europe states that Britons in Estonia also 'have to' apply for a card by June 30 but this is contradicted by the European Commission which lists the country as having a 'declaratory' system, meaning a card is officially not obligatory to establish WA rights there. Estonian government sources however imply that applying by June 30 is necessary for anyone who will in future travel out of the country.

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