More 'no deal' papers - but nothing about expatriates

Jigsaw of EU flag saying Brexit in middle and with one piece coming out

Certain impacts of Brexit affecting Britons visiting or living in France are detailed in a new batch of ‘no deal’ contingency planning papers by the UK government, but there is nothing about key rights of expatriates.

The batch includes ones on use of UK driving licences, passports and mobiles and legal cooperation and is the second after others were released last month, when there was confusion over statements suggesting expatriates could lose access to their British bank accounts

There are still no papers relating to matters such as UK state pension uprating and exportable benefits for expatriates in the EU, or the healthcare of expatriate pensioners, though the British Embassy has sent some general comments to Connexion about expatriates’ rights (see below). 

The Brexit Ministry recently told Connexion the reason they cannot give precise answers on matters like pension uprating at present is because ‘no deal’ papers are being prepared and released bit by bit. According to The Guardian, ministers have previously indicated that each batch will raise more serious issues than the one before.

Today’s ones deal among other matters with:

  • Driving licences. A ‘no deal’ exit would mean UK driving licences were no longer recognised in France. Connexion would therefore highly recommend anyone still driving on a UK licence as a resident in France changes it to a French one. For a visit to France, licences from ‘third countries’ (as the UK will be) should be accompanied by a sworn translation into French or an international driving permit (however UK ones cannot be issued to people without a UK address) and for people who come to live in France on a settled bases they can only be used for one year. The UK says that EU licences could still be used in the UK.
  • Mobile phones. Use of UK mobile phones in France (or vice versa) could become more expensive, unless the companies maintain the ‘no roaming’ rules that are enforced by the EU. However the UK says it would pass a law setting a cap for UK companies.
  • Passports. Britons travelling in the EU on a passport with less than six months to run could be stopped at the border, whereas they would previously have been let through. To avoid problems Britons should renew their passports before travelling. Passports printed between March 30, 2019 and the introduction of new blue passports (possibly at the end of 2019) will look similar but not say 'European Union'.
  • Legal cooperation. After a ‘no deal’ many rules on mutual recognition of court judgements and judicial cooperation would no longer apply. The government will seek to give certainty to those businesses, families and individuals involved in cases with a cross-border element on Brexit day and broadly-speaking, as far as the UK is concerned, current rules will apply to those cases. However the government cannot guaranteed that EU courts will follow this or that they will recognise the judgements resulting from the cases. People should therefore seek legal advice.

Connexion recently asked the British Embassy about contingency planning for Britons’ rights in France.

A spokeswoman said: “The UK government does not want nor expect a no-deal outcome in the negotiations. As President Macron said last week, France also wants to reach a deal by the end of the year. We are working closely with the French authorities to clarify how they intend to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, and ensure that any introduction of, or changes to, administrative procedures are communicated to resident UK nationals. 

“The British government will also be running an information campaign to let you know of any changes to how you access your rights and services. Please ensure you sign up for Brexit updates on and sign up to the Living in France Guide.

“Even though we believe a no-deal scenario is unlikely, we are preparing for all potential outcomes to support our citizens. We are pleased that French Prime Minister Philippe has also asked his ministers to prepare contingency measures which would be necessary in a no-deal scenario. The French government will present draft legislation in the next few weeks to enable measures, including to facilitate the residence of UK nationals already present in France.”

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