Non-EU citizens – which now includes British citizens after Brexit – looking to become resident in France will have to meet various criteria and visa requirements in order to be eligible. Our Essential Reading articles will cover everything that you need to know, but to get you started, here are some of our most frequently asked questions.
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Moving to France and French Visa Requirements
Do I need a visa for France? Do I need a short-stay or long-stay visa? What kind of visa do I need?
If you are a citizen of a country within the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), or Switzerland, you do not need a visa to travel, live, or work in France.
All other nationalities will need some type of visa, especially if you intend to spend more than 90 days out of 180 days in France. Our Complete Guide to French Visas: Live, Work, & Study in France will talk you through all the options.
Can I work or set up a business in France? Can I still work in France or start a French business in France after Brexit?
If you are a citizen of a country within the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), or Switzerland, you do not need a visa or work permit in order to seek employment, work or set up a business in France. However, there may be other requirements and legal obligations, such as health insurance, social security, and tax liabilities, depending on your work status (visit our Work & Business zone and French tax zone for more on this).
For third-country nationals, acquiring a French long-stay work visa will be dependant upon having a job contract and work permit (applied for by your employer) in France. For self-employed, freelancers, investors, and those looking to start a business, the Talent Passport visa may also be a possibility. Read our guide to Working and Work Visas in France for more information.
Can I still move to or retire to France after Brexit?
Yes, it is still possible, but you will need to meet the requirements for the applicable long-stay visa in order to begin the process – see our guide to French long-stay visas here.
How do I apply for residency in France?
If you are not an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, the route to permanent residency in France starts by applying for a long-stay visa. Depending on the type, these visas are typically valid for one year, after which you can apply for a residency permit or Carte de Séjour.
A Carte de Séjour may be issued for one year or up to 10 years, depending on your situation, and you will need to renew it each time.
After five years of residency in France (or three years for those married or in a civil partnership with a French national), you are eligible to apply for French nationality. However, this is not an obligation, and you may legally reside permanently in France with your Carte de Séjour, providing you keep renewing it.
My spouse has a long-stay visa for France – can I move to France with them?
This depends on the type of visa your spouse has been issued. Some visas, including the Talent Passport and Intra-Company Transfer visas, have a provision for accompanying family members, which allow you to apply for a simplified long-stay visa. These ‘accompanying family’ visas allow you to work.
Other visas provide no such provisions; however, you may choose to apply for a long-stay visitor visa to join your spouse, providing you (or your spouse) have sufficient funds to support your stay. In this case, you would likely apply for a Long-Stay ‘Visitor’ Visa (VLS-TS Visiteur), which would allow you to reside in France but not to work or undertake business.
I have a spouse or parent who is a French or EU citizen – can I move to France with them?
Yes, but you must apply for the relevant long-stay visa – a ‘Private or Family’ Long-Stay Visa (VLS-TS vie privée, vie familale) – in order to do so.
These visas are available to the spouse/civil partner, children under 21, and direct dependant relatives of a French or EU/EEA/Swiss national. Although you will need to prove your family status and provide personal documents, the application process for these visas is simplified, visa fees are waived, and the fast-track procedure means that it shouldn’t take longer than four weeks to receive your visa.
Once you arrive in France, you can transfer this visa straight away for a residence permit (carte de séjour). You must do this within three months of arrival. A five-year renewable carte de séjour will be issued free of charge and this entitles you to live, work, and conduct business in France (essentially, to have all the same rights as you French or EU partner or family member). After three years of residency in France, you will be eligible to apply for French nationality should you wish.
French Visa Applications, Eligibility & Requirements
What are the sufficient funds needed to apply for French residency?
Many French long-stay visas, including the long-stay visitor visa in France (visa de long séjour visiteur or VLS-TS Visiteur) require you to prove that you have sufficient income to cover your stay in France.
‘Sufficient funds’ is typically judged on the net French minimum wage (salaire minimum de croissance or SMIC), which in 2021 is €1,231 per month, per household (a couple with up to three children). This income can be from personal income, savings, a pension, a financial sponsor (spouse/partner/family member), or other means, but you must be able to prove that it is a stable and regular income source.
What healthcare insurance do I need to apply for a French visa?
If you’re applying for Temporary Long-Stay Visa (visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur or VLS-T Visiteur), which allows you to stay in France for between four to six months, a GHIC/EHIC card is acceptable for British citizens. For American, Australian, and other non-EU citizens, private travel health insurance must be taken out, which includes a minimum cover of €30,000 to cover urgent medical care and repatriation costs for the duration of the visa. Many insurers offer a ‘Schengen Insurance’ policy which is designed for this purpose.
If you’re applying for a Long-Stay Visa Equivalent to a Residence Permit (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour or VLS-TS), you must have private healthcare insurance to cover the one-year duration of your visa. It’s important to note that health insurance policies for long-stay visas must meet national requirements, not Schengen requirements – therefore, a standard Schengen travel insurance policy may not suffice. This is typically the case for long-stay French visas – you will need a dedicated insurance which covers all medical care and repatriation costs. The best advice is to choose an insurance company that has experience providing private health insurance for French residents and discuss your needs with them prior to purchase. You should also opt for an insurance policy that allows for cancellation in the event that it does not meet the requirements for your visa.
If you are looking to become resident in France, this health insurance policy may be cancelled (assuming your contract allows it) once you have registered for the French social security system and begin receiving state healthcare – at this point, you may then wish to take out a French top-up healthcare insurance or ‘mutuelle’ instead. For British pensioners who have an S1 form from the NHS, this insurance will also only be required up until the point at which you are registered, after which your S1 will cover your state healthcare.
Becoming a Permanent Resident in France and Retiring to France
Can I still retire to France after Brexit? What are the requirements for retiring to France?
Yes, it is still possible to retire to France, but as with all other cases, you will need to prove sufficient funds and health insurance coverage. British pensioners receiving a British state pension may also be able to receive an S1 form from the NHS, which entitles them to access the French social security system. The first step to residency for a retiree in France would be to apply for a one-year long-stay visitor visa.
Does owning a property in France guarantee residency?
Unfortunately, owning a property in France does not give you any right to residency, and if you do not meet the eligibility requirements for a visa, owning a property will not prevent your visa application from being rejected.
It does, however, establish a strong reason for your stay in France when applying for your long-stay visitor visa, and it also fulfils the requirement for accommodation. Owning a property in France outright would also negate the need to have sufficient funds for hotel accommodation as required by some visas and may allow for a slightly lower ‘sufficient income’ threshold as you would not be paying a mortgage or rental costs.
However, you will still need to meet all the requirements for your visa application and provide all required documents.
Will Brits after Brexit find it easier to get residency?
Unfortunately, now that the UK has left the EU, British citizens no longer have any rights to residency in France. Despite the UK’s close relationship with France and the fact that many Brits that currently reside in France, there will be no ‘special treatment’ over visa applications from British citizens – you will be subject to the exact same entry requirements as all other third-country nationals.
However, while you may not get ‘special treatment’, there are still some upsides to being a British citizen when making your French visa application. Applicants from the UK will not be subject to the stricter requirements in place for certain non-EU countries, and with French embassies in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh, most Brits won’t be more than a few hours’ drive from their nearest visa centre. Documents for the initial long-stay visa can also be submitted in English, meaning you won’t need to worry about translating documents into French (note that this may not always be the case when later applying for your residency permit in France).
I Have a Long-Stay Visa in France – Can You Guarantee That I Will Be Able to Get Permanent Residency?
Unfortunately, there are never any guarantees when it comes to visas and residency applications – every application is considered on an individual basis.
Most French long-stay visas entitle you to apply for a carte de séjour two months before your one-year visa runs out – the first step to residency. However, it does not automatically entitle you to receive the carte de séjour. This is a separate application process and will require you to submit many of the same documents as you were asked for during your initial visa application.
That being said, if you currently hold a long-stay visa in France, your situation has not changed, and you can provide the necessary documentation to prove this, then it is highly likely that your residency permit will be issued. The good news is that once you have received your carte de séjour, it is renewable online – a much easier process – and after a few years in France, you will likely be issued a 5-year or 10-year carte de séjour.
Renewing these cards is generally a formality (although remember, it is a legal obligation to maintain a valid residency card), especially if your situation has not changed. However, as for all non-nationals, you will not have the same rights to residency as a French citizen – this means, for example, you could lose your right to residency if you were to move to another country for a long period or if you committed a crime. The only way to protect your rights to permanent residency is to apply for French nationality and become a French citizen.
Moving to France?
From applying for your visa and opening a French bank account, to integrating in your new community – FrenchEntrée is here to help! Let our Essential Reading and Visa & Residency articles guide you through the whole process, then visit our Owning Property, French Tax, Healthcare, and Life in France zones for everything else you need to know.
Disclaimer: Our Essential Reading articles are designed to give an overview of the visa requirements and procedures for moving to France. We always check our information against the official government information made available to the public, however, please remember that all visa applications are considered on an individual basis and the exact requirements, fees, or application procedure may vary. Unless you are an EU citizen, obtaining a French visa is not a right, and we cannot guarantee that your visa will be approved.