A French senator has asked the interior minister to consider creating a ‘special status’ for British citizens who have owned second homes in France since before Brexit.
This could form part of the new immigration bill, expected to be presented to parliament shortly, the senator said, adding that it would be even more pertinent due to the recent state visit from King Charles III. She has told The Connexion she plans to look at what amendment could be tabled.
Britons with second homes in France feel forgotton
Many Britons who own second homes in France say they feel they were forgotten in the Brexit negotiations. No special category was created for them and they therefore must keep to the general Schengen area tourist / visiting rules.
This means they are now limited to spending no more than 90 days in any 180-day period in France. Prior to 2021, many UK residents were used to spending up to half of the year at their home in France.
In her letter, Senator Martine Berthet (Savoie) said: “As I was elected for a department where British citizens who own second homes participate actively in the dynamism of the local economy, I would like to alert you to the difficulties that they are having to get to France.”
She noted the fact they are subject to the 90-days limit, or otherwise must undertake annual visa formalities, a “long procedure, complicated by numerous technical uncertainties – malfunctioning of the TLSContact website, few available appointments etc”.
She said she was aware the situation resulted from the UK’s decision to leave the EU, but added: “Even so, due to the unique links that unite our two countries and the importance of these people for the French economy, I would like to ask you if you would consider the creation of a special status for British citizens who owned, before Brexit, a second home in our country.
“In view of this, the parliamentary back-and-forth of the upcoming immigration bill would present an adequate opportunity, all the more so after this September’s royal visit.”
EU citizens can spend up to six months at a time in UK visa-free
Brexit was voted for in 2016 by just under 52% of referendum participants, and many of some five million Britons abroad could not vote.
The subsequent UK-EU deals included issues such as securing residency rights of long-term British residents in the EU, or tariff exemptions on certain goods, but there was nothing agreed for owners of second homes who spend part of each year abroad.
Under standard UK immigration law, meanwhile, EU citizens such as French people can already visit the UK for up to six months at a time visa-free.
Hundreds of Britons recently told us in a survey we launched to help Senator Berthet that they have considered selling up as a result of the 90/180-day rule.
However, they also noted their strong attachments to their French communes, and the fact they spend monthly in France sums of around €3,000 on average.