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Brexit and second home visits to France

After Brexit, will second home owners be able to spend longer than three months at a time in France? J.F.

As EU citizens, British people can currently spend three months in France unconditionally – and longer as long as they are self-supporting. Note though that if you stay for more than half the year you may be considered to be a French tax resident.

As long as they have not become French resident, second home owners may continue to use an Ehic card for healthcare here.

This will change after Brexit, although both the EU and the UK say they wish to avoid the most complicated possibile scenario in which Britons would have to apply for a Schengen visa for even a short holiday.

It is expected that there would be an agreement to add the UK to the list of countries exempted from this procedure as long as the UK reciprocates for all EU member states.

If the UK was to leave the EU with a negotiated deal, there would be a transition period until the end of 2020 during which everything would in practice stay as now.

Then, unless the UK was to agree to a very soft Brexit option such as EEA membership, it is expected that once it has left, visitors from Britain, including those who own holiday homes in France, will be restricted to spending no more than 90 days in total (consecutive or not) in the whole Schengen area (including France) per 180-day period. In practice, this means no more than a three-month stretch.

This will be checked by stamps in the passport and from 2021 there will be a new EU entry-exit system under which the passports of non-EU citizens will be scanned on entry, logging personal details and travel dates. Also from 2021, a new scheme called Etias will require people from outside the EU to apply online for prior permission to come and to pay a €7 fee.

Once acquired, Etias permission will last three years. If things go as expected, that is likely to be the picture for most UK visitors to France after Brexit.

Most visas, and all cartes de séjour, are for people who are resident in France, though there is one exception. This is a visa de long séjour temporaire that can be for a period of four to six months and which costs €99.

This is for visitors with the means to support themselves and there is no requirement to apply for a carte de séjour.

The application is to a French consulate in the UK no more than three months before the planned trip. This can be completed online at

A visa is a marker in your passport that allows you to stay in France for a specified period (and to visit other Schengen area countries for no more than 90 days in a 180- day period). If granted, it is just for that stay.

You need to fill out a form giving details such as the date of planned entry, length and nature of stay, where you will stay, how you will support yourself, your job and employer (if relevant) and names and relationship of family members who will be coming with you. Supporting documents are needed, including a photo and a scan of your passport.

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