Your Brexit questions: Visas and travel to France

Passport queues, long-stay visas, the 90-day rule, bringing in tea… here we answer some reader questions received

5 February 2021
By Liv Rowland

We are long term residents in France with EU citizen cartes de séjour and have applied online for residency. Will we need any type of visa?

No, there is no requirement for Britons living in France before the end of 2020, and therefore covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA), to apply for a visa to remain living in France.

Visas are required for non-EU citizens who are making an initial application to come to live in the country but as WA Britons are already established here it is not applicable.

As you mention, however, it is obligatory now to apply online for one of the new WA residency cards, by June 30 at the latest. 
            

I am British, live in France have an EU passport. Do I use EU or Non-EU lanes at checkpoints at the ferries or Eurotunnel?

Although the old burgundy British passports saying ‘European Union’ on them remain valid to use until expiry, they are no longer actually considered an EU passport (British passports issued now have reverted to a very dark blue colour).

As a result if coming into France with your British passport you should use the non-EU lane.

Remember that you will need other documents in addition such as a valid Covid-19 test from the last 72 hours and proof of being a resident. The best proof is a new WA residency cards or a print-out of the confirmation email received after applying for one.

I have started looking at the visa application requirements on the French consular website which all seems pretty straightforward. However, I do not see anything that suggests that I will get the advice from them – there is no way to discuss options. How can I get help from the French consulate to submit a successful application?

The French consular service in the UK uses a third-party contractor, TLSContact, to collect the initial visa application information, and this offers several helplines which are able to give some advice on the process.

It has bases in London, Manchester and Edinburgh and you will need to visit the nearest one to bring paperwork.

We suggest calling the helpline at the base relevant to you.

The contact details are on this page, which also provides a general visas email address for the consulate. 
            

I was already in France when the new year started but am awaiting the result of my carte de séjour application. Will I have to return to the UK within a 90-day period and stay for another 90 days before coming back?

No, if you were living in France by the end of 2020 then you are covered by the Brexit WA deal and are living here legally. You are not subject to the 90-day rule as this concerns visitors to France, not residents.

Your only obligation according to French rules is to have obtained a new Brexit WA residency card by October 1, to continue living in France.
               

I see that tea is on a prohibited list of things to bring into France. That seems strange as tea leaves are dead… What risk can they pose?

Due to Brexit there are, as you say, new rules on what foods you may or may not bring into France from the UK.

These rules have applied to imports from other non-EU/EEA countries for some time. They are concerned with avoiding animal and plant diseases and pests being brought into the EU.

With regard to tea, the good news is that the rules on plants and plant products, essentially refer to fresh plants, vegetables and fruits, so you could bring in teabags, but not fresh whole, unfermented tea leaves, and for example roasted coffee beans are acceptable.
            

I am a resident in France with a British passport. Am I limited to only spending 90 days per year in another EU country or does this only apply to UK residents?

As a Briton living legally in an EU country you are limited to no more than 90 days in any 180-day period for visiting other Schengen area countries.

The Brexit deal protects rights in the country where you live, so France, but does not give any special rights regarding movement to other parts of the EU, so the usual rules for non-EU citizens apply if travelling outside your country of residence.
          

Previous articles

How to obtain a visa to move to France

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

What you can and cannot bring into France from UK

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