Reader question: We are a married couple in our 70s and have visited France each year since 1994 from April to September. In 2021 after Brexit we were given permanent cartes de séjour. We are retired and financially secure. We now stay with friends each year and wonder if the carte de séjour visiteur would be more suited to our situation?
Firstly, we should point out that if you were only visiting France and had not settled permanently in the country you should not have applied for Withdrawal Agreement (WA) residency cards as these protect the rights of Britons living (ie. main home) in France.
The application website, for example, asked people to give the date they moved to France.
We are not aware of any ongoing investigations into situations such as yours but you could potentially run into complications, for example, being asked to explain at the border why you have this card and a UK-registered car or, possibly, why you are not making annual income tax declarations to France.
There are serious penalties in France for obtaining residency cards under false pretences although we have not heard of any cases where this has been applied against holders of WA cards.
Somewhat confusingly, given the name, a carte de séjour ‘visiteur’ is also for people who have moved to France.
It is for non-EU citizens who want to live in France, supporting themselves and not working.
The ‘visitor’ status is a catch-all for those who do not fall into other categories such as employee, self-employed person or student.
Actual ‘visitors’ who want to keep their main domicile outside France are, depending on country, usually able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
If they want to stay for up to six months at a time, they should apply for a one-off visa de long-séjour temporaire VLS-T.
Explainer: Common visa options for visiting and moving to France
Can we still retire to France? Are certain income levels now required?