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Brexit and how it impacts on your French property purchase

The UK is leaving the European Union on 31st December 2020. After this date British people will still be able to buy property in France, in the same way as those from outside the EU (ie USA, Australia, South Africa etc).

For those moving permanently

If you move to France before the end of the year, you will enjoy the same rights and benefits as expats that are already here. You will remain a UK national, but become a French resident. Timing wise, you really need to have had an offer on a property accepted by September with completion happening before year end to be able to do this.

If you move after the deadline, then these rights are not guaranteed. No one knows the answers to a lot of important questions on healthcare, pensions and residency but it’s likely that those moving after 31st December will need to take out additional insurances (including private healthcare.)

For those buying a holiday home

After Brexit, you will be able to visit France for up to three months as a tourist, without the need for a visa. However, you will have to leave after 90 days and not return for another 90 days.

There is currently no agreement to continue with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, so you will need to take out travel insurance, including health cover.

You can read the latest announcements from the UK Government, here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-france
You can read the latest announcements from the French Government (in English), here: https://www.gouvernement.fr/en/news

We highly recommend that you sign up to the Leggett newsletter, where we will be updating clients and friends as the details become clearer. Subscribe here

Brexit – A questions and answers guide to help you navigate Brexit

1. What is the ‘deadline’ when it comes to becoming resident in France?

The withdrawal agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the European Union provides for a transition period to run until 31 December 2020. During this period, British citizens and their family members already living in France or wishing to move to France before 31 December 2020 retain their rights as European citizens and are not required to hold a residence permit. Pursuant to this agreement, these citizens will need to apply for “withdrawal agreement” residence permits. However, they have a long timeframe in which to make their application since they will only be required to hold a residence permit as of 1 July 2021.

A new version of the website will be online in October 2020 for these citizens to apply for their “withdrawal agreement” residence permit online in good time.

2. How do I apply for residency?

During the first week of October 2020 a new French government website is due to launch for Britons to apply for new ‘Brexit deal’ residency cards.

3. Do I need to own a property when I apply for residency?

No, you need a permanent address but this can be on a long-term rental contract on a property.

4. How long does it take to buy a property in France?

We usually say 10-12 weeks, but it can happen faster than that.

5. Can I view properties (and stay in hotels) now we can travel out from England?

Yes, we are doing lots of viewings with buyers already in France - with safety precautions in place - and many of the hotels have re-opened now.

6. If time is running out, is it a good idea to rent a property ?

Potentially.  If you are struggling to secure your dream property, trying an area by renting  first is a good way to start your relocation to France.

7. I have already got a holiday home in France, does this count as an address for residency?

No, not if it is not your permanent residence. British citizens and their family members wishing to move to France will need to apply for 'withdrawal agreement' residence permits. However, they have a long timeframe in which to make their application since they will only be required to hold a residence permit as of 1 July 2021.

A new version of the website will be online in October 2020 for these citizens to apply for their “withdrawal agreement” residence permit online in good time.

8. Will property prices drop because of Covid?

We think it is unlikely because the domestic market has returned strongly already and we see the same with the British market.

9. Has Covid affected the availability of mortgages?

No, and the rates have remained low. Only if you are in one of the sectors perceived as ‘risky’ such as the hospitality industry then you might find it tougher. But note that being a cash buyer will speed up the purchase process.

10. Driving licence information

Full details are available here .

11. Can I rent and get the same benefits?

In theory yes but you will need documentation to prove you are here permanently. Those who have been lawfully residing in France for less than five years on the withdrawal date may apply for a standard residence permit, depending on their circumstances (salaried employee, temporary worker, self-employed, pensioner, student, citizen of a non-EU country who is a member of the family of a British citizen), and according to simplified conditions.

12. What happens with healthcare?

If you move before 31/12 you get the same benefits as long term residents. However, if you move afterwards you will need private health insurance. From January 2021, it may be up to the beneficiary to secure the necessary healthcare cover to apply for new residency status during the 6 month application window.

The UK government only made an offer to EU member states to maintain existing healthcare arrangements until December 31, 2020. The French government in turn has indicated that if there’s no deal, UK pension holders with an S1 that are resident in France before Brexit will continue to be entitled to healthcare for up to two years from the date the UK exits the EU, on equal terms to local healthcare users.

13. How do I get a carte de sejour ?

The French Government is creating an online application website which is due to go live in early October. We will update you when it is live.

If you already hold a card you will indeed need a new one but exchanging it SHOULD be a formality (proof of identity and address).

14. What is the most useful place to look for advice?

This link provides ideal standard information.

15. What happens if I miss the deadline ?

Don't worry! - British citizens and their family members who wish to move to France after 31 December 2020 will be subject to national legislative provisions and will be required to obtain a long-stay visa before going to their local prefecture to file their application for a residence permit.

29 July 2020