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Ask an expert: Should I let Brexit affect my plans to buy property in France?

In this week's 'Ask an Expert' feature French paperwork guru Tracy Leonetti looks at whether you should let the uncertainty around Brexit affect your plans to buy property in France.

Ask an expert: Should I let Brexit affect my plans to buy property in France?
Photo: Depositphotos
Brexit and the effects of Brexit are on almost everyone’s lips at the moment and that’s hardly surprising as we approach March 29th with so many questions left unanswered.   
 
What deal, if any will be finalised? Will the current ‘implementation period’ of 21 months be respected or pushed out a few months as British Prime Minister Theresa May implied recently? How can you ensure your paperwork is in order before the changes start to happen? 
 
My last article on this subject was more on the paperwork practicalities of those wanting to apply for citizenship, but what about buying a property in France? How will this be affected and should people still look for their dream home in France when the implications are still so uncertain? 
 
How Brexit is affecting people and their plans to move to France (and namely invest in property) is a subject that fascinates me and one I discuss with every single one of my relocation customers. The answer is nearly always the same. 
 
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Seven things to know before you buy that house in France

Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the key hesitations after the Brexit vote, starting with the cost of buying a property. 
 
This one has actually turned into a reality due to the volatile exchange rate, with the cost of the purchase price going up. 
 
Also the fact that those who were having pensions transferred lost almost 20 percent on the exchange rate, so for those who had a certain budget either to buy a home or live on in France, plans had to be revisited. 
 
The easiest solution of course would be to use a currency specialist and lock in the best rate whilst looking for your dream home.   
 
Will local taxes on properties be affected after Brexit? This is another concern and the answer to this is no. 
 
The local tenants' tax and the owners' tax remain unchanged for non-residents whether you are an EU or non-EU citizen.
 
Of course the key questions on paperwork in general, namely healthcare, are always in the forefront before moving to another country. This generates quite a lot of stress as France is renowned for its bureaucracy, but everyone’s situation is different and there is always a solution.
 
You have to make it your mission to find the right solution for you.
 
Ten things to think about when buying property in France
 
After the shockwaves of the Brexit vote subsided (and this took quite a bit of time), many people started to realise that they couldn’t wait for the UK government to let them know what to do and didn’t really trust the information they were getting. 
 
Taking control of their own destiny despite the obstacles is what makes a dream worthwhile. 
 
Their plans are often to be able to ‘get in’ before the obstacles became bigger. I have consultations with clients every week who have moved their plans forward, sometimes by years! 
 
The overriding fact that comes out is that everyone finds their key reason to move to France that greatly overrides the problems and uncertainties of Brexit. 
 
These reasons vary from the climate, the lifestyle, the beauty and history of France to its romantic language and food. 
 
Every region has its selling points and the property market (according to my property experts) is looking better and better. 
 
Whatever the reason, people are taking their destiny into their own hands and continuing on their path,  Brexit or no Brexit.
 
Tracy Leonetti is the head of Leonetti Business Services. You can visit her website www.lbsinfrance.com
 

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘We will be ready’ vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

Transport bosses have raised fears of long queues in British ports when the EU's new EES system comes into effect next year, but French border officials insist they will be ready to implement the new extra checks.

'We will be ready' vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

The EU’s new EES system comes into effect in 2023 and many people – including the boss of the Port of Dover and the former UK ambassador to France – have raised concerns that the extra checks will lead to travel chaos on the UK-France border, and see a repeat of the long queues experienced last summer.

Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister told The Local that he feared “tailbacks out of the port and throughout Kent” because the new system could take up to 10 minutes to process a car with four passengers, as opposed to 90 seconds currently.

EXPLAINED What the EES system means for travel to France in 2023

But French border control have insisted that they will be ready, replying to questions from the European Commission with “Oui, La France sera prête” (yes, France will be ready).

French officials said they had already undertaken extension preparation and would begin test runs of the new system in French border posts at the end of this year.

document shared recently by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties, shows how countries are preparing. 

“France has prepared very actively and will be on schedule for an EES implementation in compliance with the EU regulation,” French authorities say.

“The French authorities have carried out numerous studies and analyses, in cooperation with infrastructure managers, to map passenger flows at each border crossing post… and evaluate the EES impact on waiting times,” the document says. 

However, despite the preparation, the French admit that long waits at the border remain a worry, adding: “the prospect of the impact of EES on waiting times at the borders worries infrastructure managers. The fact remains that fluidity remains a concern, and that exchanges are continuing with each border post manager to make progress on this point.”

The EES system is due to come into effect in May 2023 and will be applied at all EU external borders – find full details on how it works HERE.

However there has been particular concern about the France-UK border due to three things; the high volume of traffic (in total over 60 million passengers cross the border each year); the fact that many travel by car on ferries and the Eurotunnel (while the EES system seems more designed with foot passengers in mind); and the Le Touquet agreement which means that French border control agents work in the British ports of Dover and Folkestone and at London St Pancras station.

EES is essentially a more thorough passport checking process with passengers required to provide biometric information including fingerprints and facial scans – border checks will therefore take longer per passenger, and this could have a big effect at busy crossing points like Dover.

The UK’s former ambassador to France, Lord Ricketts, told The Local: “I think the EES, in particular, will be massively disruptive at the Channel ports.”

The EU consultation documents also revealed more details of how EES will work on a practical level for car passengers – those travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel to France – with border agents set to use computer tablets to gather biometric information like fingerprints so that passengers don’t have to get out of their cars.

READ ALSO France to use iPads to check biometric data of passengers from UK

Doug Bannister added that Dover agents were “awaiting an invitation” to France to see how the new systems will work. 

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