Brexit: 97,000 Britons apply for residency card in France

There are just over four months left to make the obligatory application. Here are some key tips for those yet to apply

18 February 2021
By Liv Rowland

Almost 100,000 Britons have now applied for one of the new Withdrawal Agreement (WA) residency cards for Britons in France, new figures show.

The Interior Ministry reports the number of applications nationwide as 97,000.

All Britons aged 18 or more living in France before the end of 2020, and therefore able to benefit from specific rights under the WA, must apply for a card before July 2021 and should have a card by October 1, 2021. 

This is essential for them to maintain the right to live and work in France.

The British Embassy advises that for young adults, an application will have to be submitted in their 18th year and no later than their 19th birthday. Therefore, UK nationals who will reach age 18 before October 1, 2021, are advised to apply by the July deadline.

Britons must apply even if they already have a residency card as an EU citizen. Britons who also have an EU nationality are not obliged to apply but may do so if they wish.

So far feedback from readers and from the bodies funded by the British government to help Britons with their applications continues to be good. 

Dordogne, a department with many British residents, has sent out 3,532 cards and reports no refusals to date.

The Connexion has not heard from readers refused a WA residency card, although we were contacted by a Briton who received a refusal letter relating to a previous application for an EU citizen’s card. This was on grounds she had not been diligent in supplying documents requested or attending the prefecture.

The process for the WA cards is particularly simple for people who have been living in France for at least five years, however, some extra documents are required for those who have not.

Among the many useful resources for completing the application is a step-by-step video on the process on the website of the Franco-British network, which can be found online.

The Connexion also has a chapter on this in our Help Guide to Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France

The Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, one of the funded support bodies, has passed on the following tips today regarding common pitfalls and problems that have come up from queries.

  • Read the whole introductory page and click the link for a table of supporting documents that you will need.
                           
  • Make sure to always tick the box at the start to say this is your first application (unless you have already applied once and were asked by your prefecture to supply extra documents). This is the case even if you have made previous applications to the prefecture for an EU citizens’ residency card.
                           
  • You need to have your supporting documents ready as files on your computer as .jpg .png or .pdf files and it may be helpful to create a folder on your computer to keep them all in. If you need an EDF bill, for example, you can download suitable files from your personal space at your online account with the firm. Otherwise, you need to either scan paper documents or take a photo with a mobile phone. Photos and scanned documents must be legible and file sizes should not be bigger than 5 megabytes (some recent cameras take larger photos than this, so you may need to save the file in a smaller size). Rename your files with individual, meaningful names, such as ‘John Brown passport’.
                               
  • You have a choice between doing the application in English or French – consider doing it in French if your French is good, or looking at both versions to make sure you have understood the requirements.
                                        
  • The English-language translation has been improved since the site first launched, but there are some remaining areas that can cause uncertainty. For example, when filling in your name married women should give their maiden name in the first section for ‘surname’, and then under ‘preferred name’ give their husband’s surname if they use this in daily life. Do not put a nickname here. The names must be entered in capital letters and your town or commune must also be given in capitals.
                                     
  • The application is not complete until you click to validate at the end so you will have plenty of time to check your application and make changes or additions and should not worry about making a start.
                    
  • Take a note of the code de suivi at the top of the application if you want to finish a partially-completed application later (within 20 days).
                             
  • Remember at the end to add additional notes in French if you wish to draw attention to anything. For example, if you live far from the prefecture and would like an appointment at the same time as your spouse or partner, then say so, giving their name and date of birth or passport number.
                                       
  • One of the final steps is an anti-spam security question which asks a simple maths question in French such as ‘quel est le résultat de 9 moins 8’, meaning ‘what is 9 minus 8’. Write the answer in numbers, not letters, eg. 1 and not un or one.
                               
  • You will get a confirmation email, but it may take several hours. Check your spam folder if necessary. Keep this email safely as proof. Printing it off is a good idea.

Diocese in Europe programme director Zoe Webster said: “For any UK nationals with particular difficulties with using the online portal, we can offer a one-to-one walk-through of the process, either on the telephone or via video-conferencing and screen sharing. All you need is a stable internet connection.”

Another good resource for help is the Maisons de Service au Public – French centres helping with admin which exist in many communes. Some staff in these services enjoy helping in English, but this cannot be guaranteed.

Previous articles

Brexit: Should I worry about delays to French residency card? 

Who to contact in France for help with your residency card application 

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