Selling business - how to reassure buyers
We are selling our language centre but it needs to be run by English-speakers. How can we reassure potential buyers as to their status in France after Brexit? T.W.
We would like to be able to reassure you everything will be fine after Brexit but much remains uncertain.
If the UK leaves with a deal in place next March then Britons in stable residence in France at that point should be protected with an automatic right to live and work in France, as should anyone coming during a transition period to the end of 2020.
If the UK leaves with no deal, it is to be hoped that France would still respect the rights of those settled here, however life could be more complicated if they face the same administrative requirements as other non-EU citizen without an automatic right to live and work in France. (A senior Interior Ministry official recently stated that in particular France would respect the rights after Brexit of those who have lived here more than five years and can prove it with a permanent residency card, however that may not help buyers unless they are already well-established).
However, do remember that many other English-speaking nationalities, such as Americans and Australians, manage to live and work in France.
Several estate agents are reporting brisk business as British people seek to become established and put down roots before the rules change – which may be an argument in favour of your potential buyers acting quickly.
You could seek advice from the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry (francobritishchamber.com), however one representative said that it is impossible to provide clear assurances, with the possible proviso that getting the sale completed before Brexit (expected to be March 20, 2019) might be advisable.
Alternatively he said you could wait longer in the hope that negotiations are concluded successfully and then you may reassure buyers that the deal and transition period are in place.