Q&A: Your Brexit deal card queries
We answer below a selection of the many queries we have received about the new residency cards. Some details of the new system were not available on going to press and the site itself was not open, but it was due to launch at the beginning of July.
*UPDATE: Since this article was published, the French Ministry of the Interior has announced that it is postponing the re-launching of their residency permit portal from 1 July to 1 October 2020 because of the impact of Covid-19. You can read their update here: https://brexit.gouv.fr/…/brexit/…/vous-etes-britannique.html.
Where do we apply?
You can only apply online, via the Brexit option here: tinyurl.com/vvey9z6.
What will the cards cost?
They will be free.
Will the card need renewing?
The card for those who can prove over five years of residency in France is expected to need renewing every 10 years with a sworn statement that you have not left France for more than five years. The other card should be exchanged for this card when the holder has been in France for five years.
Will we be expected to carry this card at all times in France?
Yes as foreign residents should be able to prove that they are legal residents if ever checked by the police. The card could also be used at the border on entering France to prove that you are not a third country visitor subject to limits of 90 days in every 180.
What rights are not given by the cards?
The card only confirms the right to live and work in France, not to move to other parts of the EU with these same rights after the transition period. It does not give an automatic right for a non-EU citizen future spouse to live with you in France or an automatic right to bring over dependent relatives, such as elderly parents. Under UK immigration law Britons returning to the UK with a non-British spouse after March 2022 will have to meet the same requirements as for those bringing in other foreign family members, including meeting certain income and/or savings thresholds. Britons will lose the right to vote or stand in local elections in France.
How long can you be away from France before you surrender the card?
The rights conferred by the cards are lost after five consecutive years living away.
How employable are we with these? Would we be ‘third country citizens’ requiring extra permits and paperwork?
The right to work in France, in employment or self-employment, is protected, so you should not be subject to such requirements.
Will couples be able to submit a joint application?
The system is expected to be similar to the no-deal cards website, so each person must make an application individually.
We already have a 10-year carte. Do we have to apply again?
Yes, you have to reapply but, due to holding this card, you should not have to provide supporting documents, other than proof of identity, such as a scan of your passport, and a scan of the 10-year EU citizen’s card.
We applied on the old site last year. Do we have to do anything?
You should be contacted and do not have to make a new application. It is possible you could be asked to supply extra documents if required and you will need to go to the prefecture to give photos and fingerprints.
I applied for an EU citizen card but do not have it yet. What happens now?
No confirmation has yet been given. Your EU card could still be issued until the end of 2020 but it is possible the dossier will be converted to one for a new card. It is also possible you will have to reapply via the new site.
I am 90 and do not use computers – do I have to use the website?
Yes, but you can seek help from one of the bodies listed on page 6. In the case of the no-deal website, official sources also said your prefecture should be able to arrange for you to meet someone to help you. Your mairie or the Maisons de services au public, a network of bodies helping with administrative tasks, may also be able to help, or a British association. The British consular service may be able to assist if necessary (Bordeaux: 05 57 22 21 10, Marseille: 05 57 22 21 10, Paris: 01 44 51 31 00).
I have Irish/British nationality and rely on the UK for retirement and health benefits. Will I need a card?
An official French government source told us those of joint nationality could apply if they want a card. It may serve as proof that you have rights under the WA deal. However, those of non-British nationality are generally not expected to need a card to guarantee any WA deal rights such as the uprating of their UK pensions if they worked in Britain, so it should not be obligatory.
Will we have to prove medical cover?
The previous website required the attachment of an attestation of healthcare rights. For those covered by the French state health insurance scheme or retirees with an S1 form, obtain this from your Cpam or other health caisse. If you have an account on ameli.fr, you can download an attestation de droits by clicking on Mes démarches. You can also obtain one from the ameli smartphone app, from a terminal at a Cpam office, or by phoning your Cpam on 3646. You should have your Carte Vitale to hand.
It can be attached to the application as a scan or photograph if it is not already in a digital format such as a PDF document. If you do not have access to an attestation because you are a newcomer to France and only have an Ehic form, or you are an early-retiree with a private healthcare insurance policy, we suggest attaching a scan of these.
Will we receive a receipt?
Yes, applicants will receive a récépissé (acknowledgement) and this could be used as proof that you applied, especially, for example, if someone leaves it close to the June 30, 2021, deadline to apply (this is not recommended).
Will there be a language test?
No, this is not one of the requirements.
Will a minimum income be required?
With regard to a means test, the WA deal followed EU rules on legal long-term residency of EU citizens. They say states should not require a set amount but should be flexible and look at personal circumstances. They should not ask for more than the level at which nationals are eligible for income support (in France this is the RSA: €565/month for a single person, rising if you have dependants, or €847 for a couple without dependants).
In EU law, the requirement only applies in the first five years of residency but French officials have usually asked for documents relating to the five years before the application. Factors like owning your home or having savings should help.
My income dropped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Is that going to penalise me?
Organisations accredited by the UK to help with applications have been told this will not be held against you.
We own a French holiday home. Do we need a card?
No, residency cards are for residents only.
When do I date my residency from?
If you have had a residency card before, you will have given a date of the start of residency and your prefecture will have kept it on file. You should use the same one. Otherwise, you become resident once you have moved to France to make it your home.
Our neighbour has never filed a tax form – will he be able to obtain a card?
On the previous website, attaching a tax return was not an obligation, though it can be one of the acceptable ways of showing income. Practically speaking, new residents would not have access to this, so it is expected to still be the case this time.
What classifies you as a resident in order to obtain a card?
You will need to give evidence of living here, such as a certificate of home ownership from a notaire, rental contract, home insurance document, or French work contract. ‘Legal’ residence under EU law also means, after three months, working, having a retirement pension, or being self-sufficient, and also having some form of healthcare cover. These are the elements that show you are a resident for these purposes.
We rent out a house in France which we plan to move to later. Is that enough?
No, you need to have moved into it, intending to stay, before the end of 2020.
Does the British spouse of an EU citizen have to apply?
Spouses of EU citizens have the right to live in France but all third-country citizens in France need a residency card of some kind so yes, you should apply. These cards will be tailored to the situation of Britons already living in the EU and aim to allow you to “continue your life as before”, with much the same rights as an EU citizen.
Will they need a new photo, or can they use the one from my EU citizen card?
New residency card applications and card renewals always require new photos.
Will sworn translations be required?
In most cases, no. However, we suggest using French supporting documents where possible to avoid any issues. These are more often required for nationality applications, where official documents such as birth or marriage certificates are required as a matter of course and need an official translation. Note that it is currently possible to order acceptable bilingual versions of these, though this may not be possible after the transition period.
Our house deeds and utility bills are in my name. How can my wife apply?
She will need to provide a copy of your evidence of residency in France, plus proof of her link to you. This could include a marriage certificate and a signed statement from yourself attesting that she lives with you (attestation d’hébergement) as well as a copy of your passport or current residency card.
We will be answering more questions online and in future print editions. Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org