What happens next for law to ease second-home visits to France?

France’s immigration law, including help for British second-home owners, is been voted definitively but a few steps remain

New law sets rule that Britons can visit second homes in France without formalities
Published Last updated

The French parliament has voted definitively to help British people come for extended stays to their French second homes more easily – but what happens next?

Last night both houses of the French parliament voted through the new immigration law, after a joint text was agreed by a mixed commission of senators and MPs.

The text of the law included – at article 1er K – a change to French borders law, giving British people an ‘automatic’ right to visit French second homes without having to apply for this. It could work, for example, on presentation of proof of home ownership at the border.

Read more: Automatic visa for easier second-home visits passed by French parliament

The rule will simplify life for the many British people who have been coming for more than three months at a time but who have faced time-consuming and expensive formalities since Brexit.

Are there any final steps for this law?

The main final step for the law now is that it will go to the Conseil constitutionnel, a body which assesses new laws for compliance with the French Constitution. It can take out items it judges illegal.

Ms Berthet's parliamentary assistant, Adrien Van de Walle, said this process may take up to a month depending on whether or not it is fast-tracked.

He said the Conseil will look at the whole immigration law, including article 1er K, from several aspects including:

  • Checking the article is not illegal because it contradicts the Constitution
  • Checking it does not break rules on financial obligations and is not in contradiction with the other aims of the immigration bill

Assuming all is well, the law will then be published in the Journal Officiel, and will then be fina.

Will Britons be able to start coming for long stays immediately?

No, the article 1er K states the general principle of an automatic long-stay visa for Britons with French second homes but adds that a decree will have to be made by the Conseil d’Etat, setting out conditions as to how the law will be applied in practice.

A long-stay visa refers to the right to come to France for more than three months. It would not necessarily have to involve physical ‘proof’ such as obtaining a sticker in the passport.

Mr Van de Walle said government officials will be obliged to draft this decree to put the law into practice but there is no set period. “It can be really quick, or very long.”

However, there is no further vote involved at this stage; the drafting will be by civil servants, with advice from the Conseil d’Etat (France’s top administrative body). It is possible they may also discuss the issue with Ms Berthet, as she put the law forward.

Do we know what the decree will say?

Not yet, however, Mr Van de Walle said they hope it will be as simple as possible, such as Britons merely having to show proof of home ownership at the border in order to benefit.

Related articles

Is Spain calling for easier second-home visits and French senators are?

Normandy senator: British homeowners should not be penalised by Brexit