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Brexit and how it impacts on your French property purchase

Moving to France before 31/12/20 - what we know so far. Last updated 01/12/20 (next update will be 16/12/2020)

The UK is leaving the European Union at the end of this month. 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).

Travel

Only essential travel to France is permitted from the UK, although airports, ferry terminals; Eurostar and the tunnel remain open. You can travel to sign on a new purchase, or to move into your new home. If you live in the UK, you may not travel to visit your holiday home or on property viewings. This will be reviewed on December 15th.

You will need to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the UK unless you are specifically exempt . Before re-entry to the UK you should complete this form. You do not currently need to quarantine upon arrival in France, but will either be asked to show a negative test (within the last 72 hours) or submit to a test.

Residency

You will need to provide proof of a stable residence. If you own your home the title deeds will suffice. If you are renting then you will need a tenancy agreement for 12 months (furnished) or 36 months (unfurnished). Temporary residence in holiday accommodation, such as a gite or mobile home, is unlikely to suffice.

After this you will also need proof that you are living in the residence, such as a utility bill.

You will also need proof that you are working or have sufficient resources. If you are salaried you will have a work contract, if you are self employed you will have business registration documents. Students need a certificate of scholarity. Retirees & "the self sufficient" will need to have documented proof that the French home is their principal residence. Sufficient resources are currently deemed to be anything over the minimum social security threshold, this article gives details.

Healthcare

All residents need healthcare cover.
Workers will receive this via their cotisations.
Pensioners will probably receive this via the UK issued S1 form.
For those not working, or not entitled to an S1, you will need private cover for the three months before you are able to join the French state system.

Buying Property

The purchase process for UK citizens will continue to be straightforward both before and after Brexit. Here is a step by step guide . However, if you plan on becoming resident and want to get in before 31st December 2020, then you need to keep on top of the transaction. Most transactions take around three months to complete and you should ensure all parties are aware of the deadline (Notaire, banks, removal company, FX broker etc).

Proff of Income

France has now published information on the income you will need to be granted residency after Brexit. All decisions will be taken on a case by case basis so you should liaise carefully with your local Prefecture. Savings and income from UK rental property will be taken into account.

The Government is using the RSA figures as a guideline, with the monthly figure currently standing at 564.78 euros needed as a household (not individual) income. Full details (in French) are available here.

NOTE: all information is provided in good faith and subject to change at any time. You are advised to seek specialist advice on residency, tax, healthcare, pensions etc.

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 went online in October 2020 for these citizens to apply for their “withdrawal agreement” residence permit online in good time.

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)

2. HOW DO I USE THIS WEBSITE?

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.

I 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.

I have lived in France for less than 5 years

The process is slightly more long winded, buy 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 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.

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. If you plan on becoming resident and want to get in before 31st December 2020, then you need to keep on top of the transaction. Most transactions take around three months to complete and you should ensure all parties are aware of the deadline (Notaire, banks, removal company, FX broker etc).

5. Can I view properties

Travel is only permitted from the UK if it is essential and only with a completed attestation. Viewing property is not currently seen as "essential" if you are coming from the UK. If you are already residing in France then you may view property with a travel attestation + a bon de visite which we can provide. This rule will be reviewed on December 15th.

If you are a French resident abroad then you can come back to France but will need to complete your attestation.

If you are moving house or need to attend a signing at the Notaire's office you can travel with an attestation. You should also bring documentation showing proof of purchase.You can not come to visit your holiday home.

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.

You would need a standard tenancy agreement for 12 months if it is a furnished rental. If it is unfurnished it should be for three years. It is possible that your application would be refused if it is less than this or if, for example, you take a short term rental in a gite. We advise you to check this with your local prefecture beforehand.

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

This link provides ideal standard information.

14. 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.