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Brexit and how it impacts on your French property purchase

Updated 28 January 2021

Due to the current situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus, France has decided to suspend the issuance of visas until further notice. All visa types are affected and this suspension also applies to visa applications for which an appointment has already been made. This is a temporary situation, due to Covid, and hopefully will be resolved shortly.

On 31st December 2020 the UK left the European Union. It is still very easy to buy and sell property in France and the process itself remains unchanged. We hope that you find the information below helpful and have split it into three categories:

  • for those looking to buy a full time home and become a French resident
  • for those who already own a full time home and are resident in France
  • for those looking to buy a holiday home in France, or who already own a holiday home here

All information is provided in good faith and is subject to change. Last updated 06/01/2021. Travel restrictions due to Covid-19 are currently in place.

If you are looking to buy a full time home and become a French resident

The UK Government has created a partnership pack entitled UK Nationals in the EU. You can download it here and it is an excellent starting point. You should also check www.gov.uk/livinginfrance for regular updates and travel advice.

Residency

If you move to France after 31 December 2020 you will be required to obtain a long term visa (as you will be staying over 90 days), before going to your local Prefecture and filing your application for a residency permit. Details are available from the French Government (in English) here . You can use this "Visa Wizard" on the French Government site to see which kind of visa you will need and the costs. You need to set up an account on the site and then complete the online application. Print out the form and the receipt then take this (and all supporting documentation) to your nearest French Embassy in the UK.

Once you have your long term visa and are in France, you should make an appointment at your local Prefecture for a 5 year residency permit. At the end of the five years you can change this for a permanent residency permit.

Healthcare

All residents need healthcare and you must register in the system to receive your Carte Vitale. If you are working (either as an employee or self employed) you will be entitled to healthcare and pay for it through your cotisations. If you are a pensioner you apply for your Carte Vitale as an S1 holder, this link is the Government guidance needed . If you are an early retiree or economically inactive you apply through the Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa) scheme, you can download the application form here .

Buying Property

The buying process has not changed and our downloadable guide takes you through each step.

Proof of Income

Decisions are taken on a case by case basis by your local Prefecture and vary dependent upon family size and other factors. As a guide, you should have resources equivalent to the minimum wage (SMIC), savings and income from a UK rental property will be taken into account. You will also be asked to prove that you have healthcare cover.

Driving

Your British licence will be recognised for one year but will then need to be changed for a French licence. Details from the French Government site here.

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If you own a full time home and are already a French resident

The UK Government has created a partnership pack entitled UK Nationals in the EU. You can download it here and it is an excellent starting point. You should check www.gov.uk/livinginfrance for regular updates and travel advice.

Residency

You should apply for residency online at https://invite.contacts-demarches.interieur.gouv.fr. If you have difficulty using the website, the UK government has given funds to four organisations who will be able to help you. This could include pensioners, disabled people, people living in remote areas and those with mobility issues. Details are available in the "Living in France" section at www.gov.uk

The organisations are:

  • The International Organisation for Migration (Brittany, Normandy and Paris
  • The Franco-British Network (Dordogne)
  • Church of England (Nouvelle Aquitaine)
  • SSAFA (all of France)

All UK nationals resident in France need to apply for the new residency permit using the online portal - it has been created specially for us. Each person must make a separate application, children under 18 do not need to apply, unless they need a residency permit to work or will turn 18 close to the application deadline. If you are one of the few people who applied via the previous "no deal" website you do not need to re-apply unless you have moved department.

If you have been living in France for over 5 years you will be eligible for permanent residency and a 10 year renewable residency permit. If you have been living here for fewer than 5 years you will be eligible for a card with 5 years validity.

The site is available in English, simply click on the Union flag.

Your first step is to go to the flowchart , accessible from the welcome page, which will guide you through your particular situation. It is highly recommended that you then scan all the documentation you need before beginning the process (although you can save your work and come back later). Once finished you will receive a confirmation email with proof that you have applied. This is an important document and should be printed out. At a later date you will be contacted by your local Prefecture and given a date/time to come in and give fingerprints, passport style photo and to show your passport. Once done your new card will be sent to you by post.

If you have lived in France for more than 5 years you will be asked if you already have a Carte de Sejour Permanent. If yes you merely need to upload a scan of the card and give your passport number and basic details (name, address etc).

If you don't already hold this card then you will be asked to upload copies of your passport, proof of address and documentation related to your arrival date in France. You will not be asked to provide proof of income or employment status.

If you have lived in France for less than 5 years the process is slightly more long winded, but still straightforward. You will be sent to a new page and asked which "category" you are applying for:

  • employed/self employed
  • student
  • job seeker
  • inactive (this includes those retired and on a pension)
  • family member
  • partner of a French national

You will be asked to upload a scan of your passport and proof of address. Employees, job seekers and students will be asked to provide proof of status.

Those applying as inactive will also be asked to provide proof of medical cover and that they have sufficient resources to live in France.

Proof of income

Decisions are taken on a case by case basis by your local Prefecture and vary dependent upon family size and other factors. As a guide, you should have resources equivalent to the minimum wage (SMIC), savings and income from a UK rental property will be taken into account. You will also be asked to prove that you have healthcare cover.

Driving

If you have not yet changed your licence then it will be recognised for one year but will then need to be changed for a French licence. Details from the French Government brexit.gouv.fr site.

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If you are looking to buy a holiday home in France, or already own a holiday home here

You should check www.gov.uk/livinginfrance for regular updates and travel advice.

Visa requirements

Tourists who will be spending less than 90 days out of every 180 days do not need a visa. If required, you can spend 180 days a year at your holiday home but these would have to be split into two blocks of 90 days. This limit covers the whole of the EU so you can't spend additional time in Spain, Italy, Portugal or other EU countries.

If you intend to spend longer than 90 days then you will now need a Long Stay visa. There are many different types but as a holiday home owner you will probably apply for a Visa de Long Sejour Temporaire Visiteur. Details are available from the French Government (in English) here . You can use this "Visa Wizard" on the French Government site to confirm which kind of visa you will need and the costs. You need to set up an account on the site and then complete the online application. Print out the form and the receipt then take this (and all supporting documentation) to your nearest French Embassy in the UK.

Be warned, if you spend longer than six months a year in France then you will be considered as a French resident.

Buying property

The buying process has not changed and our downloadable guide takes you through each step.

Travel

You will no longer be able to use the EU passport queue at customs control. Be warned, British passports which have less than 6 months until their expiry date are no longer valid for travel to France. If you want to spend longer than 90 days here out of every 180 days then you will need to apply for a visa (see above).

You can continue to use your British driving licence but will need to apply for a Green Card from your insurance company.

Healthcare

You will need to have health insurance or face hefty bills if you fall ill.

The UK Government has said that you can use your current EHIC card until it expires. If you don't hold an EHIC card you can apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) here . This card will allow you to access state provided healthcare in France whilst visiting. The EHIC and its replacement GHIC remain free of charge.

Pets

You can see the latest Government advice here. You can still bring your pets to France but will need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) which confirms that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. You get the AHC from your local vet. You will need a new certificate each time you travel to France and will need to get it within 10 days of travelling. On arrival in France you must use the designated point of entry.

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