There’s good news for British expats in France this week including an extension of the residency application deadline and (finally!) an agreement in place regarding French and UK licenses. Here are the five French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. France and UK Reach a Deal Regarding Driving Licences
After a painfully long delay, France and the UK have finally reached an agreement regarding driving licences. It was previously required for all British expats in France to exchange their licences for a French one before the end of 2021, but with no agreement in place between the two countries, the application process has been on hold since January 1st 2021.
For the thousands of Brits in France waiting to exchange their licences, especially those whose licences were about to expire or had already expired, this was a constant source of stress. FrenchEntrée has been among the many organisations putting pressure on the British Embassy to resolve this issue and we are delighted to announce that there is now a deal in place (hurray!).
Read our article Changing Your UK Driving Licence in France for the full details, but here’s a quick summary:
- If you currently hold a UK licence issued before January 1st 2021, you do not need to exchange your licence until it expires.
- If you have a licence issued after January 1st 2021, you have one year to exchange your licence from the date of your arrival in France.
- Most importantly, if your UK licence has already expired, you can still exchange it for a French licence without the need to retake a driving test.
2. Post-Brexit Residency Deadline Extended
We warned last week that the deadline was fast approaching for Brits resident in France before Brexit to apply for their residency card (Titre de Séjour). But just days later, the French government announced a surprise extension, pushing the date back three months to account for the influx of applications as well as delays caused by Covid-19 health restrictions.
So, what do you need to know? Firstly, nothing has changed regarding the need for a Titre de Séjour (Carte de Séjour). Under the Withdrawal Agreement, British nationals living in France before December 31st, 2020, have the right to live, work, and stay in France permanently as long as they meet minimum requirements (for those resident in France for more than five years prior, there are no minimum requirements).
You must still apply for a Titre de Séjour (Carte de Séjour) residency card, but the final deadline to apply is now Sept 30th, 2021 (not June 30th, as previously announced). The online portal for applications will remain open until this time and you can read our guide to Applying for a Titre de Séjour Under the Withdrawal (Brexit) Agreement here.
- UPDATE as of June 30th: There is currently some uncertainty over whether this extension is being applied across the country – while it still looks likely that the extension will be allowed, our advice is that if you haven’t already filed your application, do so asap!
3. France’s Regional Election Results Are In
The results are in from France’s second and final round of regional elections, and it was marred by an equally disappointing abstention rate—this time 65.7% of voters didn’t even bother turning up.
Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement Nationale (RN) party didn’t win any region, most notably losing the vote in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, where candidate Thierry Mariani had been a strong contender. President Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party didn’t win seats in any region either, further strengthening the claims that the party lacks local and regional roots.
What does all this mean for the 2022 election? Political pundits are still saying it’s too soon to tell, but there’s hope that voter turnout will increase once the presidency is on the line.
See the full election results here.
4. EU Health Passport Scheme Begins
The EU has just launched its new Health Passport Scheme, making it easier for vaccinated travellers to travel around the EU. This is different from the current Pass Sanitaire (Health Pass) that is in place in France, which allows access to large events such as concerts and sporting matches.
How do you go about getting yours? If you’re living in France and are fully vaccinated, you should have received a vaccination certificate (attestation de vaccination) with a scannable QR code. Those who received their vaccine earlier and do not have a QR code can download a new attestation de vaccination here.
This certificate (which you can also scan into the French TousAntiCovid app) serves as your Pass Sanitaire. From now on, there’s also another certificate available to download called an ‘EU Digital Covid certificate’. This certificate is your EU Health Passport and it can either be scanned into the TousAntiCovid app or printed out.
Bring this certificate with you when you travel between any EU country and it will be scanned at the border. You will then be permitted access without having to take a Covid test or undergo quarantine.
5. Latest Covid-19 News and Regulations
Tomorrow (Wednesday 30th June) marks the fourth and final step of Emmanuel Macron’s four-step plan to lifting Covid-19 restrictions. Many of these restrictions, including the curfew and outdoor mask requirements, came into effect earlier than expected, as we reported last week. However, this final deadline means that the power to change health measures will be passed back to local authorities.
This means that you might start seeing stricter or more relaxed rules on venue capacity or mask-wearing in your region, depending on the local situation. If travelling to other destinations around France, it’s therefore important to check the local rules as they may be different from those where you live.
Concerts and festivals are now allowed, both with standing or seated audiences, although you will need a Pass Sanitaire to gain access. Nightclubs will also reopen from July 9th, and you will also need to Pass Sanitaire to visit.
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