UK Citizens living in France
number of clients have asked me about the implications of living in
France after Brexit and whether it is worth applying for French Permanent
Residency or Citizenship.
Whilst no one can claim to know the answer
to the many questions, in what is a truly unique situation, I have compiled
a short summary of the different options as I see them. I hope it is
of interest or help to those who maybe considering what to do.
Firstly it should be noted that it has
been accepted and agreed over the last couple of days, by Prime Minister
May, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande, that the formal triggering
and commencement of negotiations (implementation of the Lisbon Treaty
- Article 50), will not now happen until early 2017.
Thereafter, a period of two years is officially
allowed for negotiations to take place - i.e. exit in 2019.
some people are already predicting that they may take longer.
As I see the situation there are three
I will try and briefly list what I see
are the requirements and ramifications of each.
Applying for French Permanent
can apply for French Permanent Residency if you have lived in France
for 5 years. There are some exceptions (mainly based around parenthood,
marriage and if you happen to have been educated in France) - but
for the vast majority, 5 years validated residency is required.
As is normal in France, you will be asked
to provide copies of all birth and marriage certificates and passports
along with details and proof of income etc.
There is no requirement to take a Language
or French Culture test.
If granted, a Permanent Residency lasts
10 years. It does not allow you to vote but does allow you access
to all the services of the French State. However you do retain your
UK (or other) passport and UK citizenship is unaffected.
After 10 years your Permanent Residency
theoretically expires, but who knows what the situation will be then?
Applications for French Permanent Residency
must be made via your local Prefecture and no doubt requirements will
slightly vary Department by Department.
Applying for French Citizenship.
there is a requirement to have lived in France for 5 years (with a
few exceptions that will not apply to most people).
There will also be the requirement to
provide copies of birth and marriage documents along with proof of
income and police checks.
Citizenship confers all the normal personal
rights such as French State services and voting rights and is permanent.
Depending on the Prefecture you will be
required to either prove (by Certification) your French Language ability
or sit an assessment examination. I am aware that in, some cases the
assessment maybe required even if you hold a Certificate.
You will also be assessed on your knowledge
of French Culture.
This can take several months and your
file will have to be approved not only by the prefecture but also
the local police and Marie.
At present, obtaining French citizenship
allows a person dual nationality so UK citizenship/nationality is
Taking No Action.
To some, 'taking no action' is a course
of action in itself.
Today (22.07.2016), it is reported in
the UK press that President Hollande has confirmed that British people
living in France will continue to be welcomed after Brexit.
Prime Minister Mrs. May has said also
she can see no reason not to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in
the UK. Her actual quote is “I expect to be able to do so, and
the only situation in which that wouldn’t be possible is if
British citizens’ rights in European member states were not
The following are my personal thoughts.
The difference between applying for Permanent
Residence or French Citizenship seems to me to come down to an individual's
ability to speak French and take to cultural test (assuming all fiscal
and personal verifications have been met).
The former has the disadvantage that the
process will theoretically have to be repeated in 10 years with no
guarantee of what will happen then.
Whilst the latter currently allows Dual
Nationality there is no guarantee of that continuing. It should be
noted that the Dutch already have strict rules on dual Nationality.
It is difficult to find accurate up to
date figures but all statistics suggest there are at least double
the number of French expats' living in the UK than vice-versa. Many
therefore consider it would be a self defeating move for the French
State to withdraw rights from UK expats'.
Another consideration is that because
of the UK Fixed Term Parliament Act, it appears that the Prime Minister
will be in post until 2020, by which time hopefully the vast majority
of issues will be settled.
However the French President has to seek
re-election in April/May 2017 and his current approval ratings are
not good. It maybe that the French view of the situation will alter,
for good or bad, over the next 9 months or so.
The final consideration and the greatest
unknown must be what happens in the EU itself. Already there are signs
that the initial petulant responses to the UK referendum are softening
and that reason is prevailing. Hopefully that will continue, but I
think it is the biggest unknown.
Following requests from a number of clients
, I have tried to state as the options, as I see them, for British
Expats' in the wake of the Brexit vote
Obviously the question is complex, with
no clear and certain outcome whatever action is taken. A lot depends
on personal circumstances and inclinations in the individual concerned.
There are a number of websites that give
full details of application requirements for Permanent Residency and
Citizenship. If anyone does wish to apply for formal status in France
and requires my help with the administration, I am happy to help on
an individual basis.