Will France extend date to apply for Britons' Brexit cards?

In view of renewed delays to the opening of the new French website for Britons' residency cards, will extra time be given to apply?

29 September 2020
By Liv Rowland

At present the deadline for Britons living in France to apply for one of the new obligatory Brexit residency cards is June 30, 2021, despite the fact that applications have not opened yet. This is set as the minimum deadline in the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) treaty.

The new website for applications, which will be accessed via the Brexit section at this page, was to open on July 1, was then delayed to October 1 and is now expected to open mid-October. 

In view of these delays the British Embassy has asked that France consider extending the final application date, stating that in the British system for EU citizens living in the UK, which has been open for some time, residents will have a total 27 months to apply.

The French government has not yet confirmed if this will be done, however Interior Ministry officials The Connexion spoke to in July previously referred to this possibility, saying “the government could decide to put it off a bit beyond that, perhaps to autumn 2021”.

It comes as EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic stated in a press conference yesterday, following a meeting of the Joint UK/EU committee which oversees the WA deal, that several EU states have introduced, due to the pandemic, more ‘flexible approaches’.

He said that this includes in some cases prolonging the ‘grace period’ beyond June 30, 2021’ in those states (as is the case in France) where Britons will be obliged to reapply to maintain their rights.

In a question and answer session, he told journalists this would in several cases be an extension to “the end of the summer, or even in the autumn”.

States where Britons must apply for a card by a set date are described as having adopted ‘constitutive’ systems for Britons’ residency, as opposed to states such as Italy, Portugal and Ireland, which have opted for a ‘declaratory’ regime.

In the latter countries Britons will be deemed automatically to maintain their rights under the WA deal, but they may request a residency card if they need one for proof of their status for practical purposes.

In practice, however, it is likely that states will require documentary evidence of meeting conditions of eligibility for this, including proof of residence before the end of 2021, which may be much the same as requirements in ‘constitutive’ states.

Mr Sefcovic also said that some countries had agreed to prolong the validity of EU citizens’ residency cards for Britons who had obtained these. French officials have previously said such cards would become invalid in France from January.

Note however that until the deadline date for applying for a new residency card, Britons established in France before the end of 2020 will be able to remain legally in France with no residency document. Once Britons have applied on the new site they will receive a confirmation of having applied which will validate their residency until they receive the card.

The European Commission prepared a list earlier in the year of the systems and of expected deadlines in different member states which can be seen at this link

It shows for example that Denmark, Romania and Slovenia were proposing a deadline of 31 December 2021, and Finland and Sweden September 30, 2021. Other states that had declared their plans, including France, had opted for June 30.

A commission spokesman said that no information is available on the current picture with regard to final deadlines, however he said they were compiling this and he should soon be in a position to provide more information soon.

He added that they are unable to confirm yet if France is unusual in not having opened its residency applications at this stage.

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