More Britons in France report incorrect passport stamps

The problem of French border officials not being up-to-date with new rules for British travellers appears to be fairly widespread – and is being taken up by the British Embassy and campaign groups

6 January 2021
By Connexion journalist

More than a dozen Britons living in France affected by incorrect passport stamping at the French border have contacted The Connexion.

The readers' reports relate to checks at sites including Bordeaux airport, Eurotunnel and Folkestone – despite in many cases readers having offered proof of residency in France.

As we wrote at the start of the week, the issue is that passport stamps should only concern those Britons who are visiting France for holidays or to stay at second homes, not those who are residents.

A passport stamp may potentially lead to confusion on the next trip out of France if the border guard thinks a person is a visitor who has overstayed their time in the Schengen area, which is now limited to 90 days in 180 for British visitors.

One reader wrote: “I travelled back to France via Eurotunnel yesterday. I had my passport stamped despite making it clear that I was resident in France and providing utility bills as proof. Border control were not at all interested in listening.”

Another reported problems on arrival at Toulouse airport. “I showed my old carte de séjour and I had my application for my new one at hand. However, he seemed to find this all funny and proceeded to stamp my passport and say ‘welcome’,” the reader wrote.

The British in Europe (BiE) coalition of groups is compiling reports on the issue in order to liaise with the European Commission and EU member states, and will be passing on several testimonies without identifying details to them. The British Embassy in Paris also reports it is liaising with the French authorities.

At present there is no official advice that you need to do anything if your passport was stamped in error, though it is important both on entry or exit to ensure you carry proof of residency.

The embassy says in a Facebook post: “Your rights in France will not be affected if your passport is incorrectly or unnecessarily stamped. It will also not affect your ability to apply for a Withdrawal Agreement residency permit as long as you can demonstrate that you were settled in France by December 31, 2020.”

If your passport was stamped and this is queried on exit, you may however wish to clarify to the border official that this was in error and show your proof of residency.

This should be a new Brexit Withdrawal Agreement residency card or the email received in acknowledgment of applying for one; failing this an existing EU citizen’s carte de séjour or other proof such as a rental contract, rent receipts, or gas or electricity bills in your name and dating from 2020.

In theory border officials are now meant to have been briefed as to the fact that any Britons covered by the WA are not subject to stamps, however it is likely that some are not yet properly informed.

Why are passports stamped?

Stamping is related to the rules for ‘third country’ (non-EU) citizens visiting the Schengen area, which includes France.

They are limited to only 90 days over the last 180-day period. In theory EU sources say penalties for overstaying can even include being barred from entering the area next time, however a French Interior Ministry official previously told The Connexion what is more likely is that it is recorded on your record and could cause you problems if you were later to apply to live in France.

This limit does not apply to residents, and the EU recently confirmed that stamps should not be applied for Britons living in the EU before December 31, 2020 and benefiting from the WA.

Previous articles

Britons’ passports wrongly stamped on entry to France 

The EU’s 90/180-day rule: How does it work?

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