The latest FrenchEntrée webinar – and the first in our three-part Destination France series – took place last week, on September 15th. FrenchEntrée Digital Editor Zoë Smith was joined by a panel of experts from our trusted partners at Blevins Franks, Beaux Villages, and Agence Axa International to answer your questions on buying French property and moving to France in 2021 and beyond.
The webinar was packed full of insider tips and valuable advice on French tax, healthcare, and the current property market in France, and we managed to put many of your questions to our experts.
You can watch the full webinar here, but to give you a taster of what you missed, here are the top three things we learnt.
1. Seek Advice on Financial and Tax Planning BEFORE You Move
Our first speaker, Peter Wakelin from French tax, financial planning, and wealth management specialists Blevins Franks, talked to us about the tax liabilities for those becoming resident in France. As he did, it quickly became clear how crucial it is to consider your financial investments in advance of your move to France.
From the moment you become resident in France, all global income must be declared on your French tax return, Peter told us, and that includes state and private pensions, overseas rental income, and investments. Many of those assets (including ones that might be considered tax-efficient in your own country) will not only become liable for tax and social charges but will also be liable for capital gains tax if you decide to sell them (and importantly, there is no allowance on capital gains in France).
For example, an equity ISA, a popular tax-efficient investment in the UK, would become liable for tax as well as social charges (at a rate of 17.2% no less) on your investment returns. Plus, if you wait until you are a French resident to sell this equity ISA, you would then be liable for capital gains tax at 30% on any gains.
This is just one of the reasons we highly recommend seeking expert advice from specialists such as Blevins Franks before you make the move to France.
2. Virtual Property Visits Are Your Friend
Next up, Anthony Bryan from award-winning French real estate agents Beaux Villages talked us through all the need-to-know information on the buying process, from starting your property purchase to signing the Acte de Vente. He offered plenty of tips along the way, including why you should seek your agent’s advice before making an offer and how long it’s taking to complete a sale in the current market (the answer: slightly longer than before!).
However, one thing that isn’t taking long, Anthony revealed, is for property to sell! Estate agents in 2021 are seeing unprecedented demand, especially for rural properties, and it’s not unusual for foreign property buyers to line up multiple property viewings only to find that many of those properties have already sold by the time they arrive in France.
One way to ensure you don’t miss out is to organise a virtual viewing, and while Anthony always recommends visiting the property yourself whenever possible, he has sold several properties without buyers even setting foot in France. Live video tours, 360-degree video footage, and video Q&As with estate agents mean it’s absolutely possible to narrow down your property search and even purchase property if you can’t travel to France.
3. 100% Healthcare Coverage Isn’t Quite What It Seems!
Our final speaker of the day was Helen Harrop from Agence AXA International, AXA’s dedicated English-speaking insurance agency, who gave us a comprehensive overview of the French Healthcare system.
As Helen explained, France’s state healthcare system is not ‘free’ in the way that some state healthcare systems are (such as the NHS in the UK, for example). If you become resident in France, you can apply for a social security number and a Carte Vitale, which grants you access to the state healthcare system and means that you will be reimbursed for most (but not all) medical services and prescriptions. However, these reimbursements only cover a percentage of the cost (typically 70%), and if you don’t want to be left with the bill for the remainder, you will need to take out a top-up health insurance known as a mutuelle in France.
How French mutuelle insurances work can be confusing, though. For example, if you receive 100% coverage from your mutuelle, that means you will be covered for 100% of the base rate set by the state and not all doctors and medical practitioners adhere to this ‘base rate’. This is why you will see mutuelles offering ‘150%’ or ‘200% coverage.
How does this work in practice? Let’s say that the base rate is €100, but your chosen practitioner charges €130. If 70% is covered by the state, and you have 100% coverage with your mutuelle, then €70 will be paid for by the state, and your mutuelle will cover the rest of the base rate, paying €30 to bring you to a total of €100. You would then still need to pay the remaining €30. However, if you have 200% coverage, your mutuelle would reimburse the entire €60 difference.
Still confused? That’s why it’s so important to make sure you choose the right mutuelle for you and that you understand the coverage provided.
Sign Up For Part Two of Our Destination France Webinars Now!
If you enjoyed this webinar and don’t want to miss out on the next instalment, you can now sign up for part 2 and part 3 now! Head over to our webinar sign-up page for details of the upcoming webinars and register for free.
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