Brexit For Members

Brexit: What you need to think about if you're planning the move to France

The Local France
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Brexit: What you need to think about if you're planning the move to France
Photo: AFP/depositphotos

Moving to France is always a major decision but with Brexit looming and nobody as yet quite sure what it will mean for Britons decamping to the other side of the Channel, here are the things experts think you should be thinking about before you take such a big step.


1. Will I be legally resident?
Clearly this is most important factor to consider and it's one that Britons who have moved to France in the past, or at least while the UK was part of the EU, have not had to worry about.
But basically whether you will be legally resident in France depends on a few important factors.
Firstly if the UK leaves the EU on the basis of the Theresa May's deal then Brexit Day on March 29th will be followed by a transition period until December 2020.
That gives Britons more time to make the move and more time to establish themselves as legally resident in the country - in other words to prove they have "sufficient resources" not to be a burden on the state - which all Britons including those who are here now will have to do.
And the same goes for Britons who come to France before the March 29th deadline.
"We're seeing really large numbers of people moving heaven and earth to get a legal foot in France before Brexit day. With time so tight it's even more important to be clear on what legal residence means," says Kalba Meadows, the head of the Citizens Rights team at Remain in France Together.
"People thinking of trying to arrive before March 30th still need to make sure that they can prove that they're legally resident on that date - it's not enough just to have a foot on the soil, even if you already own your own home, but you need to meet all the conditions for legal residence as an EU citizen.
"So for example if you're retired or not economically active, you need to have 'sufficient resources' to support yourself so that you're not a burden on the state (and there are guideline figures for this) and if you're setting up a business you need to show that it is 'genuine and effective' and not marginal or ancillary."
And if there's no deal and you come after March 29th?
Then new arrivals would have to fulfill all the conditions for 'normal' third country nationals (TCN)," says Meadows.
"That means arriving with a long stay visa, which they have to apply for from the Consulate in London, then applying within 2 months of arrival in France for an appropriate TCN carte de séjour.
"It's not impossible, but the conditions are tighter than they are at the moment and it's a much more complex procedure."
So basically much will depend on your personal situation - your income, job, savings as well as whether Theresa May can succeed in getting the backing of parliament for a deal.
2. Do you speak French?
Naturally your level of French is one of the major considerations when planning your move to France. 
Some feel comfortable arriving with little to no French while others feel that they need to be near fluent before starting their lives here.
But Ailsa Spindler at Leggett Immobilier estate agents told The Local at the recent The France Show in London that with all the uncertainty that comes with Brexit it is more important than ever to speak fluent French if you want to move here. 
"Unless you're planning to work exclusively with the expat community, it's important that you speak fluent French if you are planning to move over now," she said. 
"Brexit will probably make it more difficult to move back and forth so people need to know where the money is coming from and of course, it's much, much easier to find work in France if you speak French." 
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3. Can you move right now?
Several experts we spoke to told us -- somewhat surprisingly -- that the ideal time to move to France, or buy a property here, is right now. 
Spindler at Leggett Immobilier said people would be wise to "do it now" -- as long they speak French, of course.
"Get in there while it's chaotic," she said. "At the moment nothing has been decided so it's good to get in under the wire."
Others suggested it would be wise to buy a property in France now so that you have a base before decisions are made over what a post-Brexit world holds for Britons in France. 
"If you can take anything away from this situation, I would say don't hesitate about making an investment in France," said Kim Bingham, head of international markets at property financing company Private Rate.
"Diversifying into other countries and having a foothold there can only be a good thing." 
"What good would waiting do?" she said, adding that she is seeing an increasing number of clients buying smaller French properties worth around €20,000 to 40,000 just to have something in France and then waiting to see what happens afterwards.

"Don't wait for a cut off point," she said.
Jason Porter, business development director at Blevins Franks, which provides financial planning advice for UK nationals abroad, said: "It is the time to get over to France because it will probably be easier now than after new regulations come into effect."
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4. Have you got all the documents you need?
One thing to make sure you think about at the moment, according to the experts we spoke to, is having several copies of all your important documents to hand. 
While this is always a sensible thing to do, with the confusion surrounding Brexit, experts say it is best to be prepared to be able to show everything you need to the relevant authorities. 
Gary Burke, head of international relocation company, Burke Brothers said that this could come in handy when organising your move. 
"I don't think there is any reason for people to worry about getting their belongings over to France but after Brexit, especially in a no-deal scenario, there may be a need for us to show more documents, such a proof of the right to reside, proof of address and your passport, at the borders," Burke said. 

"It's good to be prepared as the situation is likely to become more complicated and companies like ours could need more information from you for us to transport your belongings into France."
The essential documents you will always need in France
5. .... and have they been officially translated into French?
Another thing to think about, even more than usual, is not just having your important documents to hand but also having them translated by an official translator. 
This may not be an entirely new state of affairs -- there are several bureaucratic hurdles in France that require you to have officially translated copies of documents such as your birth certificate even now -- but experts told us it was more crucial than ever to have these ready... just in case. 
"This would definitely be a sensible move," said Karen Mathers at property agents Beaux Villages.
And here's a comprehensive list of the essential documents you will always need in France
6. What will be your source of income when you get to France?
Many of the experts we spoke to said that now, more than ever, it is important to know where your income would be coming from. 
"This is about knowing how you will fund yourself when you move to France," said Jason Porter from Blevins Franks. 
With the hurdles of moving to France and buying property here as a British person looking likely to increase, planning your finances ahead of time is crucial, several experts told us. 
"The days of winging it are over," said one. 
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7. Can you afford the logistics of moving?
Another point on finances.
Experts told us that the overall logistics of moving to France could become more expensive when the UK leaves the EU. 
For example, gaining the necessary permits to live there, moving belongings and pets into the country will still be possible but will likely cost more. 
On top of that, you may need to get more important documents translated (see above), and at a cost of around €50 per document this could really start to set you back. 
This means that effectively, Brexit will limit those with smaller incomes from following their dream of moving to France rather than make it impossible for everyone, said Jason Porter from Blevins Franks.  
"People have become so used to freedom of movement that they've forgotten (or don't know) what it means when that is taken away," said Jason Porter at Blevins Franks. 
"They need to be prepared and take advice and know that it might cost more than before."
8. Are you relying on your pension?
Porter went on to say that this means people who are relying on their pensions for income should wait to find out whether pensions will be frozen in the case of a no-deal Brexit. 
"In the worst case scenario the UK will become a third state after Brexit and pensions could be frozen," he said, adding that people who hadn't worked in France could find themselves having to pay for French healthcare too.
Porter said that this double financial hit could leave a lot of people in trouble and should be avoided at all costs. 
"It would be far better to wait and see what happens over the next few months."


Comments (2)

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Anonymous 2019/02/18 22:12
Good advice Helen - our local Prefecture has insisted that the translations be no older than 3 months (altho' I've read that others are less strict)...I've had to pay to get new copies of my birth certificate from the UK several times now, and have them re-translated each about mindless (& costly) bureaucracy for nothing...!!!
Anonymous 2019/02/18 18:43
On what you call "official" translations - the person you are looking for is a traducteur assermenté or sworn translator in english. Be careful about jumping the gun with these translations as they must not be more than three months old. I know, nothing can change (name of parents, date of their mariage, your date and place of birth) but some countries, such as Germany,provide birth certificates which give much more information - marital status, with place and dates - and furthermore provides this in about 15 languages thereby permitting one to forego these pesky translations. Anyway, just to say, don't rush into getting translations done (and paying for them) as your mairie may reject them on account of "old age".

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