May saw a big day in Paris – and indeed across France – with the re-opening of terraces! It is wonderful to see them open again across the city. It has been so strange, and such a symbol of the pandemic, to see them closed and shuttered over such a long period.
This is one of several relaxations of the restrictions in France that have been coming into effect, of course. The lifting of constraints on interregional travel have made visits possible again, subject to the curfew.
I recently visited our team at the consulate in Bordeaux to thank them for their work throughout the period of the toughest restrictions.
On June 6, the anniversary of D-Day, I will be in Normandy for the official opening of the new British Normandy Memorial above Gold Beach.
It commemorates the 22,442 who fell under British command during the Normandy campaign. It is a fitting tribute to their sacrifice – and I hope that when it opens to the public, you may be able to visit it.
While travel within France is now possible, I know many of you will be anxious to visit family and friends in the UK, which the restrictions have made so difficult in recent months.
As I write, travellers from France to the UK are subject to testing and quarantine measures.
For more detail and the latest information on the UK’s entry requirements, please check the border control pages on the UK government website. The embassy will also communicate any changes to the rules on our social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.
Following the UK’s departure from the EU, British citizens living in France now need a residence card.
Even if you already had a carte de séjour, you need to apply for residency under the Withdrawal Agreement if you settled in France before December 31, 2020.
The deadline for applications is June 30. So if you’ve not yet made an application, please do so today.
The online process is straightforward and more than 135,000 Britons in France have already applied.
Should you or someone you know need help with the application, contact the UK Nationals Support Fund organisations which can assist.
Find their details here: tinyurl.com/cyp8zhue.
If you have already applied and haven’t yet heard back, this may be because your prefecture is steadily working its way through a large number of applications. But make sure you check your emails, including your junk folder, as responding promptly to requests for further information will avoid delays.
If it has been several months since you applied, you should visit the prefecture website to see if they have any information about their processing rate. As a last resort, you may wish to contact them to check you have not missed anything.
If you live outside France and come to work here regularly, you must also apply for a frontier worker permit at the prefecture where you work by June 30. See more here: gov.uk/guidance/livingin- france#working-andstudying- in-france.
One issue raised frequently in recent years has been frustration that many of you are not able to vote in UK elections after living overseas for a long time.
The Government has announced its plans to remove the 15-year limit on voting rights. These changes will come into effect in time for the next scheduled general election in 2024. I hope you find this welcome news.
I know the issue of driving licences is a source of concern and frustration. Implementing legal changes on the French side is taking longer than we had hoped, which is why we have not yet been able to publish details of new arrangements.
We are pressing the French authorities for a rapid response. I have raised the issue in the last few days again with the Ministry of the Interior and the Prime Minister’s office, stressing the real difficulties that this matter is causing.
As soon as we have an update, we will share it with you on our social media channels, our online Living in France guide and here in Connexion. Valid UK licences will be recognised until the end of this year.