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Moving to France from the UK: Everything You Need to Know

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Are you worried about Brexit and looking to cross the Channel into La France? You’re not alone.

Ever since Brexit was announced, many UK-dwellers have been scoping out neighbouring EU countries in an effort to stay within the European Union. And while the current Brexit deadline is October 31, 2019, many are making the move now, in order to avoid any new obstacles that may come their way when the deadline passes.

If you’re someone who’s considering moving to France from the UK, keep reading.

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Can I still move to France after Brexit?

A valid question, and the answer is yes, you can. Though there are a few things you’ll need to consider before moving.

Check out our Moving to France Checklist below.

Your dossier

France is notorious for paperwork. You’ll need every personal document you can think of on-hand in order to satisfy numerous demands and open accounts related to your new French residency.

In general, you should have copies of the following:

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  • Passport, and passport-sized photos of yourself
  • Birth certificate avec filiation (with your parents’ names) on it
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable
  • Medical documents (EHIC, any private healthcare, vaccinations)
  • Driver’s licence and vehicle documentation
  • Bank account information and other financial documents
  • UK tax documentation
  • Educational qualifications
  • Proof of employment (employee contract/payslips)
  • Proof of residency (utility bills, rental lease)
  • Proof of healthcare in France (carte vitale or above-mentioned private healthcare)
  • For those who are self-sufficient: proof of income e.g., investment or pension information
  • For those who are self-employed: proof of activity, proof of registration, proof of social security

Residency permits, or applying for a carte de séjour

You will not need a visa to live in France if you are moving before Brexit. However, you may need one if you are moving after the deadline.

The EU and UK have agreed to an “implementation period” until the end of 2020. This ensures that both EU and UK nationals will have the same rights and status they had pre-Brexit until this deadline. 

It is recommended that you apply for a residence permit, or carte de séjour, now, in order to avoid the hassle later on. This will permit you to legally stay in France. You can apply for it at your local prefecture.

After the Brexit deadline, you will need to apply for a new carte de séjour to confirm your post-Brexit rights, but it will be much easier for those who already have one in their possession.

You will have until June 2021 to submit any remaining documentation to the French government that may be needed to confirm the legality of your new French residency.

If you live in France for more than five years, you can then apply to be a permanent resident and be allowed to stay in the country without any conditions.

In addition to proving the length of time you’ve been in France, you’ll also need to prove that you’re one of the following:

  • An employee, employed by a company or individual and possess a work contract
  • Self-employed
  • Self-sufficient (living on your own resources, such as investments or a pension)
  • A student
  • A family member or spouse of an EU citizen who meets one of the above conditions

Healthcare in France

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You can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for the first three months of your stay only. After you become a long-stay French resident (living in France for over 90 days), you will need to apply for French healthcare.

Once the UK leaves the EU, the conditions of EHIC will likely change. The UK has proposed allowing EHIC to continue covering UK citizens in France after Brexit. However, the French government has suggested differently, saying that EHIC will not be valid if there is no deal.

Due to this uncertainty, it’s best to buy insurance to ensure you have some sort of coverage if there is a no-deal situation.

If you’re living in France and receiving an exportable UK pension, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK. This can be done through an S1 certificate, which you will need to apply for.

 If there is no deal, and if you are a French resident who holds the above-mentioned S1 certificate before Brexit, you are entitled to healthcare for up to two years in France.

 If there is a deal and you remain a resident in France, your healthcare rights will remain the same until the end of the implementation period. However, at that point you will need to apply for healthcare into the French system.

 Any healthcare benefits arranged through your employment should not be affected.

 If you move to France and then decide to move back to the UK after Brexit, you will be entitled to NHS as soon as you set up residence in the UK.

You can find more general information about healthcare in France here.

The French healthcare system

If you are committed to living in France and wish to be part of their healthcare system, you must first register yourself in the French social security system in order to receive its health benefits. This involves paying into the system (called cortisations). You will have to go to your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) and apply for a health card (carte vitale).

CPAM will tell you what documents they’ll need from you in order to apply in order to get your own carte vitale.

You can access the healthcare system by being employed in France, obtaining the S1 certificate, or through Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa), the French universal health coverage system.

If you don’t qualify for any of these, you can apply for PUMa by declaring you are sans activité professionnelle (aka without a professional activity in France).

Once you receive your carte vitale, you will then be reimbursed for any healthcare costs. However, the healthcare system will not cover everything (only about 70%).

You can purchase additional medical insurance to cover the remaining costs, or buy a mutuelle, a French top-up insurance.

Bank accounts in France

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Check that your bank account and credit/debit cards will still be accepted in France. If you wish to open a French bank account, it will take 3-6 weeks to do so.

You will need a bank account (French or otherwise) to be able to sign up for French mobile or internet services, and to be able to rent a property.

Driving in France and bringing a car

You will need to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you are moving to France and get an import certificate.

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You’ll also need to apply for a carte grise, a certificate of registration that allows your vehicle on French soil. A certificat de conformité is another thing you’ll need, in order to prove your car meets EU safety standards. You can get these from your car’s manufacturer, usually for a small price.

If your car is over four years old, you’ll need to have a vehicle inspection (contrôle technique de véhicule), which is available at your local vehicle care centre.

Once you have these documents, go to your local prefecture to officially register your vehicle.

Make sure you check out what other personal documents they might need, such as a copy of your passport, your proof of residency, and a utility bill, among others.

Working in France

You are legally allowed to work in France up until the Brexit deadline.

 If there is a deal, your right to work in France will remain the same as it was pre-Brexit until the end of the implementation period.

 If there is no deal, UK nationals will be allowed one year from the date the UK leaves the EU to keep working and also apply for a residence card. If you are living and working in France on the day the UK leaves the EU, your residence card will allow you to keep your working and living rights. You may need to apply for a work permit after the implementation period deadline, with a confirmed place of work.

You can find more information (in French) on the French government’s website here.

It’s recommended you line up a job in France before moving. Unless you know some French, at the very least at a conversational level, it will be very difficult to find work.

Moving costs and value-added tax (VAT)

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If you’re looking to use a moving company to move your belongings to France, check whether your company of choice is registered with FIDI, an international moving association. Registered companies must adhere to strict moving protocols to ensure high-quality moving.

Value added tax (VAT) is exempt from personal belongings being moved from the UK to France, provided the tax has already been paid in the EU.

Some things are illegal to move into France. These include firearms, ammunition, meat, dairy, plants, narcotics, wild animals and psychotropic substances. A full list is available at the French Consulate in London's website.

The French tax system

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You need to register yourself in the French tax system at your local French tax office if you live in France permanently (more than 183 days a year).

Tax season in France runs between April and May each year, for the previous fiscal year (January to December). You must register during April or May -- you cannot do it before these months.

You need to complete a French tax return even if your only income comes from the UK and even if you complete a UK tax return. You must declare all of your income (worldwide) and all your foreign bank accounts.

You’ll get a French tax reference number, which you will use to complete a form called France Individual. Send the French version to the French tax office and the English one to the UK one. This registers you as a French taxpayer and prevents you from being taxed by both countries. You’ll receive a tax credit for income taxed in the UK.

I’ve already moved to France. How do my rights change after Brexit?

 If you’ve been living in France for five or more years by the end of the implementation period, you will be covered by the so-called Withdrawal Agreement. Your rights in this agreement will be confirmed by the EU and UK. Unless you leave France for more than five years, you will be entitled to the rights agreed upon in the agreement.

 If you’ve been living in France for less than five years by the end of the implementation period, you will be allowed to stay in the country to make up the rest of the five years. Your rights will also be covered in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Will I still receive UK state pension if I am living in France?

Yes, if you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and receive a UK state pension for social security purposes. You may also be covered by the agreement if you reach state pension age after the implementation period.

Can my children still go to school in France?

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Yes, if you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, your children will still be able to go to school as normal.

For more detailed information on moving to France after Brexit, please visit the UK government’s official website here.