As the UK is no longer part of the European Union, British workers, students, and travellers will no longer have the right to Freedom of Movement in the EU. This doesn’t mean an end to British expats in France, but it does mean more restrictions and more paperwork. Here’s what you need to know about moving to France after Brexit.
British Expats Living in France
Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, British people resident in France before January 1, 2021, will be able to continue living and working in France, providing they meet certain basic requirements. Recent expats who moved to France within the transition period of 2020 will also be granted the same legal rights.
For more about this, read our article on Living in France After Brexit and ensure your rights are protected by following our handy 2021 Checklist for British Expats in France.
Rights of British People to Move to France After Brexit
What about if you didn’t move to France before the end of 2020? British people will still be able to move to France from 2021 onwards, but you will need to apply for a visa and meet several criteria. UK visa applications will be assessed as any other ‘third-country nationals’ (non-EU nationals), and each application will be considered on an individual basis.
Those looking to stay in France for longer than six months or seeking permanent residency in France will need to apply for a Long-Stay Visa Serving as a Residency Permit (Visa Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour or VLS-TS).
Applying for a Long-Stay Visa in France After Brexit
To apply for a VLS-TS, use the France Visa website to make an appointment at your nearest French Embassy in the UK (London, Manchester, or Edinburgh). This may take several months to process, so leave yourself plenty of time to organise your visa before you plan to travel.
The exact documents needed will vary from case to case, but expect to be asked for:
- Your reason for coming to France. Valid reasons might be to join a spouse or family members, to work or study, to set up a business, and tourist or personal reasons.
- Proof of funds and/or income for the duration of your stay.
- Proof of your accommodation or where you plan to live during your stay.
- Medical insurance that covers your healthcare in France and repatriation expenses.
Most visas will be issued for one year, after which you will need to renew or reapply for a visa. Expect to pay a processing fee and possibly translation fees as applications are carried out in French.
Studying in France After Brexit
A big disappointment of the Withdrawal Agreement for British students hoping to study in Europe was the UK ending their participation in the ERAMUS program. Some 15,000 British university students benefitted from the program each year, taking part in student exchanges, work experience, and apprenticeships all around the EU.
Boris Johnson has promised that a similar national program will be set up and larger universities and colleges may propose their own programs in the future. For now, British students looking to study in France will need to apply directly to the French university of choice, then apply for a VLS-TS student visa.
Retiring to France After Brexit
Retiring to France will still be an option after Brexit, but you will need to apply for a VLS-TS, and applications will be assessed on an individual basis. The deciding factor for retirees will be proof of sufficient resources.
It’s likely that the required income will be lower than that of a working household and would also take capital assets such as property in France or the UK into account. So, for example, a couple with UK pensions that fall under the required income, but who own a home in France without a mortgage, would still have a good chance of their visa being approved.
However, there are other post-Brexit considerations to consider, including receiving your UK pension in France and healthcare coverage, both of which are subject to changes from 2021 on.
Read our guide on Retirees and Pensions in France After Brexit.
Travelling and Long-Term Visas in France After Brexit
Don’t worry; this isn’t the end of wine-fuelled summer holidays in Provence or last-minute city breaks in Paris. The UK leaving the EU will not affect British people’s rights to travel in France after Brexit, although there are still some changes to be aware of.
For second-home owners in France or those looking to purchase French property in the future, this could mean that you need to apply for a long-stay visa. The visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur will be required if you want to stay in France for longer than 90 days within any 180 day period. These temporary visitor visas allow you to stay in France for between 4 and 5 months, but not work or study.
Keep checking this page for the latest news on moving to France after Brexit or head to our Brexit zone to learn more about living, travelling, and buying property in France from now on.