*UPDATE: Since I wrote my latest column for The Connexion, 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. All other information remains up to date, and we will continue to work hard with the French administration to ensure they take the concerns of UK nationals into account.
Deconfinement and, finally, summer are here. I hope that both of these lift your spirits after the difficult times that we have been through. Of course, life is not back to normal – far from it, and we remain vigilant to the risks of a return of the virus. In some cases, this has meant more restrictions to your travel to or from France than you would have liked. Please follow our travel advice online to stay up to date with the latest measures.
France deconfinement: What opens June 22, in July and beyond
I wanted to use my column this month to talk about EU exit and what it means for you as a resident in France. Your rights as a resident here are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which was ratified by the UK and the EU earlier this year. Though you may hear media reports about how the trade negotiations are going, I want to reassure you that the Withdrawal Agreement is a separate piece of legislation and is not contingent on the ongoing negotiations on the future relationship. I will say, however, that there is commitment and energy on both sides to getting that deal done as well.
So, what should you do to prepare? This month we are expecting an online system to go live that will allow you to apply for the new residence permit linked to the WA, and for the French authorities to explain exactly how applications will be assessed. In preparation, you should check that your identity documents, such as passports, are up-to-date, and that you can access paperwork that will help to show that you are living here. The portal briefly went live last autumn; so, if you applied then and received an email confirming receipt of your application, you do not need to apply again.
Read more: Brexit residency card website to open this July
Everybody else wanting to secure their residency rights should apply. This includes those of you who already have cartes de séjour – including 10-year or ‘permanent’ ones, those of you who are PACSed or married to a French citizen (and have not taken French nationality), and those looking to take French nationality in the near future (simply because the nationality process can take time and you will want to be covered in the meantime).
There is no rush to apply as soon as the portal opens. As long as you are here before 1 January 2021, then you will have until 30 June 2021 to apply. The online system will make the process much more straightforward, and the application will be dealt with by your local prefecture. Like you, they will be dealing with the challenges of life post-lockdown, so please remain patient!
The UK government has funded a number of organisations in France who can support you if you need help with this process – the Franco-British Network will focus on the Dordogne, the IOM will work in Brittany, Normandy and Paris, and SSAFA will support veterans across France. Phone numbers and website details are available in The Connexion and on the Living in France Guide on gov.uk. Over the summer, we will be sharing a series of information notes online about the residency permit process, the documents you need, and how you can escalate an enquiry. We will also continue to answer your questions on a regular basis, and will be sharing your feedback with our French colleagues. Please continue to stay in touch with us.
Read more: Brexit residency card questions answered in our online Q&A
You will know by now that I take a keen interest in our countries’ shared history. On 18 June, we marked the anniversary of de Gaulle’s famous ‘Appel’ with great style – with overflights of both London and Paris by the Red Arrows and their French equivalent Les Patrouilles de France, and a visit by President Macron to London where he presented the City with the Légion d’Honneur, and met both The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, as well as the Prime Minister. It was a memorable day.
You can find more photos from the event online on our social media pages @UKinFrance.