With the UK no longer part of the EU, what does this mean for British pensioners looking to retire to France? Is retiring to France still possible, will you need a visa, and will you still be able to access French healthcare using an S1? Here’s what you need to know about securing your future in France, from pensions to healthcare.
Retirees Living in France Before Brexit: Your Rights Under the Withdrawal Agreement
First things first: if you were resident in France before January 1st, 2021, your rights as a French Resident are protected under the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. You must now be in possession of a French Residency Card (Carte de Séjour), and this card will grant you the full rights of any other EU citizen.
- Permanent residency in France for the rest of your life
- Continued access to French healthcare via your S1 form (if applicable). This includes those who qualify for an S1 and are yet to reach pensionable age and those whose S1 forms are renewable.
- No changes regarding receiving your UK state pension
Retiring to France After Brexit: Your Rights
If you wish to retire to France after January 1st, 2021, it’s important to understand that British citizens no longer have the unequivocal right to residency in France. Since the UK left the EU, British citizens seeking residency in France fall under the same rules as all non-EU or ‘third country’ applicants. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still retire to France, but it does mean that you will have to meet certain requirements in order to do so.
In order to seek residency in France, you will need to first apply for a long-stay visitor visa in France, followed by a Carte de Séjour. There is a substantial amount of paperwork involved in both application processes, and you will need to show proof of sufficient income and healthcare coverage. If you can prove that you have the means to support yourself throughout your retirement in France, there is a good chance that your residency will be approved, but it’s important to remember that there are no guarantees – each application is considered on an individual basis.
Read our guide to Retiring in France: Visas & the Path to Permanent Residency for more details on the process and requirements.
Receiving a British Pension in France After Brexit
You can continue to receive your British state or government pension if you move to France after Brexit, and workplace pensions may also be paid to EU expats. Most importantly, British state pensions will continue to benefit from the current system of uprating – the ‘triple-lock’ agreement by which anyone who retires to a country within the European Economic Area sees their UK state pension rise in line with inflation, earnings, or by 2.5% – whichever is highest.
‘Pension aggregation’ also continues, meaning that British retirees who have worked in different EU states and contributed to different social security schemes will have these periods accounted for when calculating their state pension.
Retirees in France also still have the option of transferring UK private pension funds into a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). Currently, transfers to EU/EEA-based QROPS remain tax-free, while there is a 25% transfer charge to other overseas countries. However, now that EU regulations are no longer in place, there is a possibility that the UK government could opt to extend these charges to EU transfers too. If you are looking to transfer your UK pension to a QROPs, it might be advisable to make the move sooner rather than later.
Healthcare Rights for Retirees in France After Brexit
Retirees in receipt of a UK state pension can continue to request an S1 form from the UK in order to cover state healthcare costs in France. This alleviates the need to pay social charges (which can be up to 9.1%) on your UK pension in France. However, there are some changes to certain UK benefits that previously afforded the right to an S1 form.
Read our guide Retiring to France after Brexit- Can I Get an S1 Form?
Note that you will likely be required to take out a 1-year private international health insurance policy in order to meet the requirements for your initial visa. Read our guide Healthcare for Retirees in France – Your Options.
Retiring to France After Brexit: Long Term Changes
As of January 1st, 2021, moving to France has become a little more complicated for British expats, and that includes retirees. But just as pensioners from America, Australia, and other countries outside the EU manage to retire to France, it is still possible to retire to France now that the UK is no longer in the EU.
However, it is important to note that much of the above-mentioned information is subject to change from 2023 onwards. While uprated pensions and healthcare coverage are protected for British retirees in France before 2021 (and these are protected for life under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement), there is no guarantee that the British government will continue this from now on. If you are looking to retire to France later down the line, it’s important to stay up-to-date with any changes regarding pensions and healthcare in the future.
If you do want to retire to France, plan ahead by ensuring you have a secure private pension, sufficient savings or assets (such as a mortgage-free UK or French property) to ensure you meet the minimum income requirements, and be prepared to take out private healthcare coverage if required.
Retiring to France?
From applying for residency and understanding your pension options, to life in France for the over 60s – FrenchEntrée is here to help! Let our Essential Reading articles guide you through the whole process, then visit our French Tax, Healthcare, Wills & French Inheritance, and Life in France zones for everything else you need to know.