French Residency Requirements for UK Citizens Post Brexit

Created: Apr 17, 2020 | Updated: Jul 15, 2024

What are the new rules for French residency after Brexit for UK citizens? Their right to travel, work and reside in France will change, and individuals looking to reside or become French citizens after Brexit will need to be informed of the changes that will affect them. In this article, we will discuss:

  • French Residency After Brexit for UK Citizens
  • French Citizenship Possibilities after Brexit
  • French Residency Requirements: Documents and Translations for the Application

Table of Contents

French Residency After Brexit for UK Citizens

The French government regards “residency” as a stay in France of more than 6 months in the year. All non E.U., E.E.A. or Swiss citizens must apply for a residence permit, also known as a carte de séjour, if they wish to remain in France for more than 6 months. The documents they need and the procedure depends on their nationality and the purpose of their visit.

All UK citizens, regardless of their relationship with France, have had exactly the same rights as all other E.U. and E.E.A. citizens up to now. E.U., E.E.A and Swiss citizens have not had to apply for a French residence permit since 2003 under common rules that apply to all these citizens. 

When Britain finally voted to leave the E.U. last November, it didn’t mean that everything changed between Britain and France and all other E.U. countries immediately. Britain formally left the E.U. (Brexit) on January 31st, 2020 , but because there was a transitional agreement between the U.K. and the E.U., it mean that there would be a transition period in which little would change while finer details were worked out with regard to immigration, residency, customs and trade. That transition period is due to end at the end of this year, although there is always a possibility that it could be extended further.


Changes during the transitional period

The transition period while the Brexit negotiations are still ongoing lasts until December 31st 2020, so technically British citizens don’t need a French residence permit yet, as they come under the same rules as other E.U. citizens. However, that will change after that date, unless Brexit negotiations or the current deadline themselves change. The future rights for U.K. citizens currently living in France may depend on negotiations over reciprocal rights for French and other E.U. citizens who wish to remain in the U.K.


Changes after the transitional period

After the transition period ends, British citizens will be in the same position as many other nationals who are not E.U., E.E.A. or Swiss citizens, but do not need visas for short term stays. Short term stays are classified as stays of no more than 90 days in any one period of 180 days to stay in France or any other Schengen country. After 31st December, 2020, all UK citizens, including those living in France who haven’t applied for a long term residence permit or carte de séjour, will only have the same rights as citizens of other visa waiver countries like Australians, Canadians and U.S. citizens. 

There will be no need to get a permit or provide documents in advance, as your U.K. passport will be stamped in the first Schengen country you visit, if it isn’t France. Towards the end of 2022, the ETIAS online visa waiver system will be in place. U.K. citizens will then have to apply for an ETIAS pre-travel authorization if they wish to travel to any Schengen country, including France for a short stay of up to 3 months. This will incur a small fee and a relatively easy online application. ETIAS pre-travel authorizations, once obtained, should last 3 years.


Living in France after Brexit

French residency rules

Although British citizens have freedom of travel and residence in France up to 31st December 2020, the residency situation in France after Brexit will change for short term stays as has already been described and all longer term stays, whatever the reason for them. France has an established set of rules that apply to all non E.U. or Schengen country citizens if they wish to stay in France for longer than 3 months. British residents of France may apply for a temporary or permanent French residence permit (carte de séjour) at any time during or after the Brexit transition period. There will be a dedicated website (in English and French) that can be used for applications that will launch in early July 2020.

British citizens, who have been living in France, or wish to reside there for more than 3 months at a time, should be thinking about applying for a French residence permit as soon as possible. The actual agreement hammered out between individual E.U. countries and the British government may change over the next few months, but basically if you have a long term residence permit before the end of December 31st 2020, this will be converted into its nearest equivalent, whatever that is after that date.

If you have been living in France for more than 5 years continuously you are entitled to apply for a French permanent residence permit or carte de séjour permenent. You must have proof that you have spent this period of time in France and complete an online form on the new French government website that won’t now be available until early July 2020.

If you are British and have been living in France for less than 5 years continuously, or wish to stay in France for extended periods, then at the moment you have a grace period until the EU transition period is over. 

You can apply for a temporary French residence permit while you are in France or anywhere else for that matter. A carte de séjour temporarire allows a stay of up to a year and can be extended. If you keep extending the residence permits for 5 years while living in France, then you can then apply for a permanent residence permit. Alternatively, any time that you have been living in France while the U.K. was still in the E.U. may be taken into consideration for your permanent residence permit. 

You will be able to apply online for a temporary residence permit when the French government’s website launches in early July 2020. This website is an updated one especially for British nationals that replaces the new online application site that was originally set up in October 2019 before the final decision on Brexit in the British Parliament.


Retiring to France after Brexit

If you have been thinking of retiring to France after Brexit, but have not had more than 5 years continuously living there already, your best solution is to apply for a temporary residence permit, which will last for a year. This can be extended one year at a time, providing that you can show you have the assets and income to support yourself during retirement and health insurance. After 5 years of retirement in France you should be able to apply for a permanent French residence permit as outlined above.


French citizenship possibilities after Brexit

If you have been well settled in France and like the country, people and their culture, you may be considering applying for French citizenship. France permits you to have dual citizenship, so you wouldn’t need to renounce your British passport as is the case with Spain. You have three ways to become a naturalised citizen of France:

  • live there continuously for at least 5 years;
  • be married to a French citizen and have lived there for at least 4 years;
  • complete a postgraduate course and live there for at least 2 years.

Applicants for French citizenship must have a very good command of both the French language and French culture as they will be expected to be interviewed at their local préfecture.


Document & Translation Requirements

The documents require for French residency differs based on the sort of application you're submitting. We explain a few of these differences below:


Document Requirements

Documents needed for French permanent residence permits (carte de séjour permenent)

  • proof of place of residence in France; this could be a utility bill or bank statement or anything that shows your residential address
  • proof that you spent 5 continuous years in France. They do not have to be recent.
  • proof of identity, e.g. passport or other official identity card;
  • all documents to be accompanied by a sworn translation if not in French.


Documents needed for French temporary residence permits (carte de séjour temporarire)

These should be uploaded when you apply online (new website will only be accessible in early July 2020) for a temporary residence permit and include:

  • passports or other official personal identification.
  • 3 passport sized photos;
  • proof of residence in France e.g. utility bills,
  • proof of health care insurance; Up to the end of the Brexit transition period, an EHIC card will be sufficient
  • proof of income or assets to show that you would not be a burden on the French state, e.g. proof of U.K. state pension entitlement, U.K. or French bank statement or other proof of assets;
  • all documents to be accompanied by a sworn translation if not in French.


Documents needed for French citizenship applications by naturalisation:

  • a “declaration of honour” which both spouses need to sign in person at the préfecture or consulate;
  • birth certificate;
  • marriage certificate obtained within the last three months;
  • copies of ID for all applicants;
  • proof of address with your full name;
  • proof of length of residence;
  • proof of not having a criminal record;
  • proof of length of marriage to a French citizen if relevant;
  • proof of the spouse being a French citizen at the time of marriage if relevant;
  • proof of French postgraduate degree if relevant;
  • proof of sufficient knowledge of the French language;
  • two copies of the French nationality application form, signed and dated;
  • all documents to be accompanied by a sworn translation if not in French.


Application Procedure

Once your application is received with all the documents, you will have to wait until you are contacted by your local préfecture who will arrange an appointment for you to attend, pay the fee for the permit and take your fingerprints.

There are many other reasons why a French long stay residence permit may be available for those who wish to work or continue working, remain as a self-employed person, live in France with a French or E.U. national or study. 


Translations for French Residency or Citizenship

It is essential to ensure all documents needed for French residence permit and citizenship applications are translated into French before submission. Professionally translated documents mean there will be less confusion and opportunity for miscommunication. Also, as the time to process a permit in your local préfecture may take several months, having translated documents should help to speed things up. When you get your documents translated, make sure that they are translated by sworn translators registered at a French Court of Appeal, so that they are accepted. This latter is a compulsory prerequisite for all French residence and citizenship applications.


Sworn translations for French Residency

A sworn translation or traduction assermentées, has the same legal value as an official document as the original document as far as the French government is concerned. The sworn translation must always be accompanied by the date and the signature of the sworn translator, a stamp and a unique registration number. As all documents you need for a French temporary or permanent residence permit or citizenship by naturalisation must be translated into French, if not already in French, it is important to choose a sworn French translator who is authorised to make sworn translations from English into French.

Note that a new E.U. directive in 2016 appears to have eliminated the requirement for documents to be translated as sworn translations in any E.U. country, but considering the implications of Brexit and the fact that Britain is technically now no longer a member of the E.U. notwithstanding the transition arrangement, it would probably be foolish not to insist on having sworn translations of all documents required. 

Where to find a sworn translator in France

Look no further. This is what we do.

At Translayte, we work exclusively with official translators that are sworn at a French Court of Appeal. When you order a sworn translation into French, the translation will be accompanied by the translator's signature, stamp and a sworn statement attesting to the accuracy of the translation. This ensures that the translation will be acceptable within France for all French Residency or Citizenship applications.

Click here to find out more about our sworn translation services in France

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