Just over 15,600 people made applications in the first four days after the October 19 opening of the new web portal for Britons in France to apply for obligatory residency cards due to Brexit.
Most reader feedback is that the site is quick and easy to use.
Reader Philip Hunnisett said: “The French government has made the procedure extremely easy, if one has the correct documents. I congratulate them for getting it right.” Another, Ute Chell, from Dordogne, “found it a doddle”.
Details of documents needed, per category, can be found at this online flowchart.
A simplified process for French residents over five years
There are welcome simplifications in documents required for those who have lived in France more than five years which, said an Interior Ministry official, may be the case for around three quarters of the 200-250,000 Britons estimated to be living in France.
All Britons in France must apply for a card by June 30, 2021, and obtain a card by October 1, 2021. Only under-18s and Britons who also hold another EU nationality are exempt.
The site can be used in French or English but comments added at the end should be in French.
Non-EU family members of Britons can also apply and Britons’ close family members may join them in France and benefit at a later date from the same rights and cards, as long as the relationship existed this year.
Permanent or temporary cards
“Permanent” cards – renew- able in a simple process every 10 years – will be issued to Britons who have lived here for more than five years.
Temporary five-year cards will apply to others, who can then apply for a permanent card when they have totalled five years. You do not need to apply again if you previously applied at the site set up last year for cards that would have been required in the “no Withdrawal Agreement (WA) deal” scenario – unless you have moved department.
If you are waiting after applying for an EU citizen’s carte de séjour, it is possible that your prefecture will directly issue one of the new cards instead if it was close to completing the process.
However, this group is encouraged by the Interior Ministry to also use the new site. The “no-deal” website already included simpler procedures compared to the process many Britons went through to obtain an EU citizen’s optional carte de séjour. This included applications online instead of on paper handed in by queuing at a prefecture.
The “no-deal” site also reduced the number of documents needed, for example requiring only proof of having moved to France in the past and of still living here, not documents from every six months showing continuity. That remains the case on the new site. In addition, supporting documents have been further reduced for “over five years” residents, who no longer have to give proof of healthcare cover, work status or income.
For those with the EU citizen’s carte, a scan of the front is the only document required. There is also good news for any Briton married to a French person – they will automatically qualify for a “permanent” card, or a temporary card (as a minimum) if they are in a Pacs. They do, nevertheless, still need to apply.
Two income points to be aware of
There are two elements less favourable than the rules laid out by government decree for the no-deal scenario.
First, the level of Aspa pension top-up is stated as the income minimum that non-working people living in France for less than five years need to show.
RSA income support, which is lower, was previously referred to as the benchmark for “inactive” people.
Secondly, there is no general exemption from proving income for those on disability benefits AAH and ASI. The Connexion has queried these rules, which mean over- 65s, for example, should show income of €903/month for a single person or €1,402/month for a couple.
The ministry has previously stated that prefectures will be asked to interpret the income rules generously, especially when people own their own home.
A British Embassy spokeswoman said they are clarifying the means-test issue with the ministry but, if in doubt, there is “no rush” to apply.
She added that if you have doubts about meeting criteria, ensure you give as full a picture of your financial resources as possible, including income from abroad and savings, or being a homeowner or living rent-free.
You can make these clarifications in the comments section.
A helping hand
Those with difficulties using the site are advised to contact one of the helping bodies listed under “Visas and residency” on the Gov.uk Living in France website.
Also helping are Cancer Support France and The Old School in Dordogne. Prefectures can help using public computers, the Interior Ministry said. The ministry said it is asking local mayors to mobilise their teams to help ensure vulnerable Britons in their areas know their responsibilities.
Officials are keen that everyone applies by the deadline but say the authorities will not be heavy-handed if certain isolated Britons fail to apply in time for genuine reasons.
Plans to travel in 2021?
Britons planning to travel outside France next year are encouraged to apply this year. The card, or the attestation issued by email after applying, can be used as proof of being a resident on return to France as, from 2021, British visitors will be subject to rules over time spent in France.