Carte de séjour: How to get permanent residency in France

While the post-Brexit headache continues, one way to ensure that you can stay in France without problems is to get hold of a permanent resident permit.

Published: Wed 16 Nov 2016 17:08 CEST
Carte de séjour: How to get permanent residency in France
Photo: AFP
A permanent residency card for EU nationals is known as a "Carte de Sejour - Citoyen UE - Séjour permanent", and as the name implies, it gives the holder permanent residency (or a "séjour permanent").
It's not a compulsory card for European Union citizens so many won't even bother getting it, but it could be more relevant than ever for Brits after the Brexit vote has potentially made life more complicated. 
What does permanent residence get me?
Essentially, it lets you live in France permanently, although you'll have to renew the permit every ten years. That means you can get through day-to-day administrative tasks with far less hassle, not to mention things like work, finding a flat, and everything that comes with living in a country legally.
You won't get voting rights, citizenship, or a passport... but you can call France home and won't have to prove things like employment, health insurance, or if you have sufficient resources.
Am I eligible?
All EU nationals can automatically acquire the right to permanent residence after living in another EU country for five continuous years or more.
Certain absences during this time are allowed  but no more than six months per year. An absence of up to 12 months will also be acceptable if if was for reasons of serious illness or to study abroad.
Brits living in France, for the time being, are eligible for French permanent residency through the UK's membership in the EU. 
Once you have been in France for five continuous years you can gain the carte de séjour without actually having to prove you are in work. 
However if you are economically inactive, in other words out of work, you will likely be asked to prove you have health cover and proof of income, to demonstrate that you are not 'an unreasonable burden on the social assistance scheme of your country of residence'.
Authorities will want to make sure you are not a "menace to the state". Understandable.
For Brits who've been in France for five continuous years or more:
Congratulations, you have the right to apply for permanent residence via your local prefecture or Town Hall.
But now comes the hard part.
You'll need to gather the proof that you've been here continuously for five years or more. Obviously they take into account that you might have been on holiday, or abroad to study (see above) but you will need to prove that France has been your home.
To do this, basically be prepared to have anything and everything from work contract documents (which may need to be officially stamped) to tax returns, pay slips to utility bills dating back five years, as well as a valid registration certificate that you may or may not have got when you first arrived (full details here - in French). 
The website says one form for each "semestre" over the last five years will be enough. But you may want to arm yourselves with more.
That's beside the passport photos, passport and appropriate forms that you will need.
British expats in France certainly already know what French bureaucracy is like, so we hope this means you have all this information stored in a folder (office, underground bunker) somewhere (complete with photocopies). 
For Brits who haven't been in France for five years:
If you're a Brit and you don't fall into the category above, that means you're not yet part of the five-year club. Well, it's not the end of the world, but you're going to have to wait, at least for the permanent residency card. 
The good news is that while no one knows exactly what Brexit will mean, it seems everyone agrees that the process will be a slow one. 
Note that the five-year residency requirement is reduced to two years if you are joining a family member who already has permanent residence, or if you are the parent of child with French nationality with temporary residence.
Europe officials have said:
"For the time being, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK."
In other words, if your five-year anniversary with France is approaching, you're probably going to be fine. You might even have a few years before anything changes. 
If you've only been here for month (or a few years) then all you can really do is hope that the five-year barrier crops up for you faster than the potential changes to the rules for Brits do. 
Looking for more information? Read more here (in French, of course) Or you could also call the number 3939 and ask to speak to an expert, although again you'll need to have a decent level of French. This kind of information changes (and often) depending on who you speak to or where you check online, so be sure to contact the Town Hall directly. 



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