So, you’ve applied for your French long-stay visa and are all set to move to France, but what are the legal and bureaucratic steps you need to take? Our guide to moving to France will talk you through the things you need to do on arrival, but what about before you leave the UK? Here’s what you need to know.
Who You Need to Inform When Moving to France from the UK
The most important thing is to inform the UK tax authorities of your departure.
You must let HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) know if you are moving permanently overseas or if you are going overseas to live or work for a full tax year. You need to fill in form P85 and send this to HMRC along with your P45 form or self-assessment tax return. This will ensure that you will treated as UK non-resident from the date of your departure.
You can find out more about the requirments and download the relevant forms here.
UK State Pensions When Leaving the UK
Any UK Government service pensions will remain taxable only in the UK and will not be directly taxed in France (though the income is taken into account for the purposes of determining the rate of tax payable on other French source income and you must declare this on your French tax return). Your UK state retirement pension is always paid gross, so you will declare it and pay tax on it in France.
For personal pensions and any non-government source occupational pensions, UK pension providers will continue to deduct UK tax at source until HMRC are satisfied that you are French tax resident and liable to French tax on this income. They will then advise the pension provider to pay the income to you gross and make a repayment of any UK tax deducted at source.
In order to arrange this, you should obtain Form France/Individual from HMRC. The form comes in two identical parts (French and English) and you submit it to your local French tax office (usually with your first tax return) who will stamp it to confirm you are French tax resident and the income is taxable in France. They will then send the English part to HMRC.
You will need to let your pension providers, including the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), know of your new address and make arrangements for any change in where the pension is to be paid i.e. bank account. UK state pension can also be paid directly into your French bank account.
UK State Pension Contributions
If you are moving to France before reaching the UK state retirement age, you should apply for a pension forecast to determine whether you have made sufficient contributions to receive a full state pension once you reach state retirement age. Men born before 6 April 1945 usually need 44 qualifying years, while those born afterwards need 30. Women born before 6 April 1950 usually need 39 qualifying years and those born after need 30.
UK residents can obtain a pension forecast from the Retirement Pension Forecasting Team at the DWP in Newcastle upon Tyne. It can be dealt with over the telephone by calling 0845 300 0168. Alternatively, you can obtain Form BR19 from your local DWP Social Security office or fill in the form from the DWP website.
If you have not made sufficient contributions for a full UK state retirement pension, it is possible to make top-up contributions to increase your pension entitlement by paying voluntary Class 2 or Class 3 NationaI Insurance contributions in the UK after you have moved to France.
Class 2 contributions protect entitlement to retirement pension, widows benefits and invalidity benefit (and maternity allowance). Class 3 contributions only protect entitlement to retirement pension and widows benefit. You can only pay Class 2 contributions if you are employed or self-employed abroad.
Receiving Rental Income from the UK
If you have any continuing UK rental income when you are in France, you can usually arrange for your UK rental income to be paid gross to you. You can do this by submitting Form NRL1 to CAR – Personal Tax International, Unit 406, St. John’s House, Merton Road, Liverpool, L75 1BB. Form NRL1 can also be downloaded.
Keeping a UK Bank Account When You Move To France
If you retain any UK bank accounts, the bank interest will only be taxable in France. In order to receive your UK bank interest gross you can submit a Form R105 to your bank or building society. Not all banks will pay interest gross and it usually depends on the type of account you have. Form R105 can also be obtained from HMRC or downloaded from the website.
Registering With France’s Healthcare System: S1 Forms
If you are a UK pensioner retiring to France, you can register with the French state healthcare system if you hold Form S1, which is available from the DWP. This provides healthcare cover on a household basis. You are entitled to the form if you are in receipt of a UK state retirement pension (or certain long-term benefits such as long-term incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance, bereavement benefits or widow’s benefits). You can also get an S1 if you are under UK state pension age and have made full Class 1 or 2 UK NI contributions as an employee or self-employed person in the two UK tax years prior to your departure from the UK. In this case it is valid for up to two-and-a-half years after leaving the UK.
Unless you have Form S1, or intend to work in France and pay social security contributions, you will need to arrange private medical cover.
After Arriving in France
If you have Form S1 you will have to locate your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) office to submit the form to have access to French state healthcare. The French system, the Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU), does not cover the full cost of French healthcare and it is advisable to take out top-up insurance so that you do not have to pay any shortfall yourself. Top-up insurance cannot be purchased until you are registered with the CMU. If you do not have access to the CMU and have not already done so, you should arrange for private medical insurance.
•With thanks to David Franks from Blevins Franks