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Is it too late to move to France now, before Brexit?

Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query on whether it's too late to move to France before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Too late for France movers to beat Brexit?

Question: We are moving permanently to France and have just started our search for a property. We know we need to complete the purchase before the end of the Brexit transition period. Is this feasible or are we too late?

Answer: You will need to find a property quickly – the buying process usually takes approximately three months from start to finish, but some take longer. While the notaire will do everything possible to achieve your deadline, the timescale for the various pre-completion formalities may, to a certain degree, be outside his or her control.

The notaire should be informed of the critical date at the outset but he or she may be hampered by delays in obtaining the required search results from the French land registry and local planning authority. Any required “purging” of potential rights of pre-emption in favour of the local commune and/or the local agricultural body could also be delayed – especially if a second wave of Covid-19 results in public offices having to close or operate a reduced service.

Unless you are cash buyers and have already sold your UK property, or secured a mortgage offer in principle, there may be additional delays which are outside a notaire’s control. A UK sale can fall through at the 11th hour and French lenders are not known to be particularly quick to process mortgage applications.

You should therefore think about a Plan B, such as arranging a 12-month furnished rental contract or a three-year unfurnished rental contract, which would give you the required proof of a “stable residence”. The rental contract needs to be in both your names and any utility contracts transferred into your names.

Thinking of buying a second home in France? Buy our help guide for all your practical questions answered

Please note that a short-term rental does not qualify as a stable residence for the purposes of a residency application and a mobile phone contract showing your address in France does not constitute proof of a stable residence either.

Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930

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