Status of second home owners in France after Brexit

Would people who own a second home in France benefit from any special status after Brexit, whether with a deal or not?

As we explained in this previous article, while we have focused especially on impacts of Brexit on British people who have their main home in France, there would also be many practical effects of Brexit on people who spend part of the year in France in French second or holiday homes.

As in the case of residents, those impacts would be likely to come sooner, and be more serious, if the case of no-deal as opposed to a deal. In the latter case a transition period until the end of December 2020 should mean that little should change until then, although it is possible that there will be a drop in the value of the pound after March 29, 2019 even with a deal, once Brexit becomes irreversible (meaning pounds would not go as far in France).

Britons who have made France their main home before the end of a transition period or before a no-deal Brexit should (based on the draft deal or on what has been said about France’s ‘no-deal’ intentions) have more rights and certainty compared to Britons seeking to come and live in France after that as ‘third country citizens’. 

The same applies to Britons coming as holiday home owners (or other British visitors) during a transition period, however after this, or after a no-deal, they would have no particular status as compared to other foreign, non-EU, visitors, because no rights as such accrue simply by virtue of owning property or residing part of the year in France. Also, as we covered previously, there are no cartes de séjour for those who do not live in France as their main home.

However one benefit holiday home owners would have as opposed to other visitors would be that they would not have to show documents at the border such as the attestation d’accueil that non-EU visitors staying with friends or family in France have to produce (which would have to be obtained from the mairie by the host, attesting to the fact they will host the foreign person for a given period of time, then sent to the visitor to bring with them).

Nor would they have to provide evidence of a booking such as non-EU foreigners going to stay in a hotel or campsite etc need to produce.

A spokesman for the DGEF, the Interior Ministry section dealing with foreign people in France, said: “A non-EU foreigner owning property in France does not need an attestation d’accueil or d’hébergement (he or she is not being hosted by a third party), but must, when making their request for a Schengen visa at the French consulate, supply a document attesting to their ownership (deeds, or a tax document, for example). Otherwise, the usual rules apply.”

If France and the UK subsequently negotiated a treaty so British visitors to France do not need visitors' Schengen visas, then that requirement would not apply, however like other visitors from those non-EU countries which are dispensed from visitor visas, Etias visa-waiver requirements would apply after the Etias scheme comes in during 2021 (this will involve applying online for prior permission to visit the Schengen Zone and paying a small fee).

If there is a deal and a transition period a dispensation from visitor visas may be able to be put in place before it comes to an end; that would be unlikely to apply in a no-deal scenario.

  • For more information on Brexit see our helpguide to Brexit and Britons in France and/or the October edition of The Connexion newspaper, in the shops and with subscribers later this week.

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