A Survival Guide to Post-Brexit France

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So, it happened. The UK has left the European Union for good. And whether you like it or not, there will likely be some changes in your day-to-day life that you should be prepared for.


Brexit may make you want to jump ship from the UK permanently (and we don’t blame you!). That’s why we’ve created this survival guide on moving to France after Brexit, to make sure your transition is as seamless as possible.


Brexit is official. What does that mean?

Le Brexit et l'Union européenne

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple years, the UK had a Brexit vote on June 23, 2016, to decide if they should leave the European Union. The date to officially leave kept being pushed back due to disagreements between the UK Prime Minister, UK Parliament and EU Parliament. But it was finally decided that the official Brexit date would be January 31, 2020.

Right now we’re in the transition period that runs from February 1 to December 31, 2020. Everything will remain pretty much the same as it was before until that deadline.

You can still travel around the EU unrestricted with your UK passport, and you can still move to a different EU country with no issues, as you would’ve before Brexit.

What happens after the transition period is over?

Things will get a little complicated. We’ve broken down the different categories that will undergo the most change after the transition period is up.

The French Residency status

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If you’re a French resident by the end of the transition period, your EU rights will be protected as long as you remain a resident of France. This is thanks to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which outlines UK citizens’ rights in other EU countries.

By remaining in France as a resident, you’ll still be able to work, study and access the services and benefits in France, just as you would have before Brexit. Anything not covered in the Withdrawal Agreement will be discussed in future negotiations.

We would normally recommend you apply for a French residence permit, or carte de séjour, as soon as possible. However, all UK nationals residing in the EU will need to apply for a new residency permit that is in line with the Withdrawal Agreement anyway. That includes:

  • UK nationals who do not have a carte de séjour
  • UK nationals who have a carte de séjour, even if their card says it is “permanent” or has no expiry date
  • UK nationals who are applying for a second nationality
  • UK nationals who are married or PACSed (in a civil partnership) with an EU national

There have currently not been any updates as to what the new application system will look like, so you may want to wait until it is all sorted out rather than applying for a regular permit. In any event, you’ll have until at least June 2021 to apply.

If you have been a resident in France for less than five years, you will be allowed to stay in the country to accrue the time to apply for permanent residency with the new system.

Housing in France

If you’re looking to buy or rent a place in France (because we know the UK post-Brexit housing market is a little uncertain at the moment), check out our article on how to buy a French property.

Access to French Healthcare

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If you haven’t already, you should apply for a carte vitale, or French health card.

You CANNOT use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare services in France. Your EHIC should only be used for healthcare while travelling/short-term visits to other EU countries.

It is still up in the air whether EHIC will be valid in EU countries following the transition period. However, it’s best to apply for a French card to cover your bases.

Driving in France

Driving licence rules will remain the same until December 31, 2020. If you have a French drivers’ licence after the deadline, you may need to apply for an international drivers’ permit.

If you want to bring a UK-registered vehicle into France, study up on the EU’s guidelines, as well as the British government’s guidelines.

The French Education System

If you’re looking to enrol yourself or your children into the French education system, you can do so by checking out our article about school in France.

Finances and Paying Taxes in France

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You won’t have to worry about being double-taxed when it comes to tax time in France. The UK has a double-taxation agreement with France, so you won’t be paying tax on the same income or a dual property tax for instance. This currently will not change under the new agreement.

If you are self-employed or employed in the EU/EEA, and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you’ll remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.

If you haven’t already set up a bank account in France, now would be the time to do so. It’ll make a transfer of funds much easier to deal with, regardless of whether you work in France or not.

Check out our dedicated article on how to set up a French bank account.

Pensions and Retiring to France Post-Brexit

You’ll still be able to claim the UK State Pension after the transition period is over, but you’ll need to alert the UK government if you’re moving or retiring to France.

If you do retire there, you can claim it by contacting the International Pension Centre. You’ll also need to go to your local town hall (Mairie) to pick up a certificate de vie, which ensures your payments are not suspended.

If you become a resident of France before December 31, 2020, you will be able to count future social security contributions towards your UK State Pension. If you work and pay these contributions in France, you’ll still be able to count your UK contributions to your French pension, even if you claim your pension after the December 31 deadline.

You can claim your French pension by contacting your local pensions office.

If you’re living in the EU/EEA or Switzerland by December 31, 2020, your UK State Pension will be updated every year as long as you live in the previously mentioned areas. It will happen as long as you meet the conditions in the State Pension guidelines and if you start claiming your pensions on or after January 1, 2021.

Claiming Your UK Benefits

You may still be able to claim disability and child care benefits from the UK. Check out this website to find out more. If you need to claim French unemployment benefits, you can contact Pôle Emploi for more information.

The Maison Départementale des Personnes Handicapées (MDPH) will help you with any disability allowances. Child and housing allowances all go through Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF), where you can apply for these benefits or ask for more information.

Bringing Your Pets into the EU

Pet rules will remain the same until December 31, 2020. In general, your pet will need a pet passport to travel, as well as have been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. You’ll also have to have sent your pet’s blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing lab three months before going abroad.

EU nationals in the UK

You can apply for permanent residency in the UK if you’re an EU citizen and have been living there for five years or more. However, there is still no clear plan on what will be allowed if you want to move to the UK after the Brexit deadline.

Moving back to the UK permanently?

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If you decide this whole Brexit thing is too complicated to live in another EU country, why not move back to the UK for good? If you do, though, you’ll need to tell the French tax office the date you’re leaving and that you’re changing your address. You’ll also need to alert any social security offices of your departure (i.e. housing benefits, unemployment, etc.).

If you receive a French pension, you’ll need to contact your French pension provider. If you receive a UK State Pension, you’ll need to notify the International Pension Centre.

If you return to the UK and pass the ordinarily resident test (that will assess your UK citizenship), you will be able to access the NHS without being charged.

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