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Brexit: What visa do I need to stay in France long term?

Online applications can be made from January 1 and the process takes around two weeks

23 December 2020
Graphic of people standing in front of a UK and EU flag. Brexit news What visa do I need to stay in France long term?
By Connexion journalist

Obtaining a visa is now applicable to all Britons wishing to move to France or to visit for more than three months.

The site france-visas.gouv.fr is due to accept applications from January 1 and these should be made no more than three months before a trip. The process takes around 10-15 days.

Issuing visas in the UK is carried out by the French consular service, but a third-party service provider, TLScontact Royaume-Uni, collects application information and, after officials process it, returns the passport with the visa.

Britons do not need visas for trips of fewer than 90 days in any 180-day period and Britons covered by the Brexit WA deal are not required to have visas. 

However, close family (partners, children, adult dependants) who have a non-EU nationality which requires a visa for short trips will need a (free) visa if joining the WA Briton in France. This is called a visa d’entrée.

Read more: Brexit and France: How visas, residency cards work in 2021

What are the different types of long-stay visa for France?

There are several kinds of long-stay visa. When you apply, you describe your plans and duration and officials assess what is appropriate, the Interior Ministry told The Connexion.

Obtaining a visa is not a right. Factors taken into account include the risk of the person becoming a financial burden to the state or overstaying.

Once issued, visas allow the holder to come and go during the validity period. 

Second homeowners could get a VLST visa

For someone who wants to stay more than three but fewer than six months continuously, for leisure not work, the relevant visa is usually a visa de long séjour temporaire (VLST) specified as a visiteur. Applicants are not considered to be moving to France and this would be suitable for second homeowners.

The visas are usually issued for four, five or six months (up to 12 in limited circumstances, such as doing voluntary service) and are not renewable. For a future stay, you start the process again.

You apply at france-visas.gouv.fr. There is a €36 fee to the service provider, plus €99 in visa fees. 

Applicants must then visit the service provider, in London, Edinburgh or Manchester, with supporting documents and their passport, and to have a fingerprint scan. You need to show proof of income at least equivalent to the French minimum wage (€1,231 net) per month of the stay (payslip or pension statement) or equivalent savings to show you can support yourself. 

If obtaining a visa on a visiteur basis, you must pledge not to work and show health insurance for the stay. 

Means levels will be lowered for homeowners in France as they are assumed not to have the same accommodation costs.

You then visit again to collect the passport / visa, or have it delivered by courier.

What about stays over six months in France?

For a stay over six months the main option is visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour (VLS-TS), valid for one year. The application process is as above.

This visa has to be validated online here in the first month in France at which point frais de séjour (residency costs) of around €250 are due. 

For those not working, and self-sufficient, it can be extended by applying for a carte de séjourvisiteur” at a prefecture in the two months before expiry. 

You must show three months’ proof of living in France (utility bills), income equivalent to the net Smic and pay a €225 fee. It is renewable annually. Under certain conditions, this card can be replaced by a 10-year carte de résident after five years if you have lived in France on a continuous basis (short stays away are acceptable).

Other kinds of residency card exist, such as if you are coming to France to work.

It is possible, but more expensive, to obtain successive VLS-TSs in separate applications. 

Some second homeowners question whether it is possible to obtain the 12-month VLS-TS without being considered a resident of France for tax and other purposes, so as to have more flexibility for visits during the year. 

It is hard to give a concrete answer but, as above, consular officials take into account your stated plans when deciding what to issue, and when issuing a VLS-TS would assume you are moving across. 

The ministry suggests obtaining more than one VLST if you want to stay UK-resident while making two or more extended trips that do not suit a single VLST.

Related: Flexibility on France 90-day visa after Brexit is 'possible'

This may not be necessary, as periods in the Schengen area under a visa are not counted in the 90/180-day rule, so you could obtain flexibility by combining this with one visa.

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