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BREXIT

‘Can I travel on a Carte de Séjour?’ British embassy answers Brexit questions

On Monday night the British embassy in Paris answered questions from anxious Britons in France on what a post-Brexit world holds for them. Here's a selection from the Q&A.

'Can I travel on a Carte de Séjour?' British embassy answers Brexit questions
British embassy in Paris. Photo: AFP
More questions have been answered on the British Embassy in Paris Facebook page
 
Question: How much will it cost to apply for residency in France after March 29th?
 
Answer:  In a deal situation, we understand that there will be no cost to apply for residency. However, in a no deal scenario, then I’m afraid there will indeed be an application cost for those who do not already have a permanent residency card. We understand this will be more like €100-150 – the precise fee should be confirmed in the coming week.
 
Question: If Britons in France do not manage to exchange their UK driving licence for a French one before March 29th due to the long wait, will it be enough to carry a copy of the application forms from before that date in order to avoid having to re-take a driving test in France? 
 
Answer: We are very much aware of the delays to exchanging drive licences as this is coming up regularly – and not, we should say, linked to Brexit but to a broader backlog.
 
The exact process for exchanging your licence after Brexit hasn’t been outlined by the French yet (including about driving tests) but you can check their website for updates here
 
They’ve also said that for those who arrive after Brexit they will have a year to exchange their licence during which it remains valid – so it sounds like there’s some flexibility if you don’t have a French licence in your hand on 30 March.
 
When you send your UK licence off to be exchanged, the French government should issue you with a certificate of proof which will be valid for 12 months, but you might want to keep a copy of your forms and a photocopy of your UK licence just in case.
 
No-deal Brexit: What the new French law really means for Britons in France
Photo: AFP
 
Question: Will it be possible to drive in the UK on a French driving licence in the case of a no deal?
 
Answer: Yes. You will be able to drive in the UK on a French licence in the event of a no deal Brexit.

 
Question: What advice do you have for Britons who commute between France and the UK, and have homes (or 2nd homes) and businesses in both? Will people be forced to choose between the two, in terms of taxation, healthcare, driving licences?
 
Answer: In theory people should have had a primary residence anyway, which then fed through to decisions about driving licences, healthcare etc.
 
But there will be changes, around the right to onward movement (where we continue to push for it to be continued) and on visa free travel being for three months and we want to be honest about that. On the businesses element we would suggest talking to a lawyer as it depends very much on the kind of business.
 
Question: Many Britons are preparing the examinations to become teachers in France (civil service posts). Do we have any news on how this would work in the case of a no-deal Brexit?
 
Answer: According to the “ordonnance” that the French published on February 7th, the rights of UK nationals who are either permanent or trainee “fontionnaires” will be protected. Hope this helps and do let us know if there are any problems.
 
Brexit: Brits in France must start preparing for the worst
Photo: AFP
 
Question: After Brexit, if a Briton living in France wants to travel back into France with their pet on a European pet passport, will the animal in question have to have blood tests and a health certificate?
 
Answer: Under a deal scenario nothing changes until the end of 2020 and we will hope to negotiate replacement agreements for the current EU system. Under a no deal we will continue to allow people to travel using their existing pet passports, but going the other way it will depend on the EU placing the UK on their list of countries which removes the obligation for a blood test. You’ll find more information here.
 
Question: How do I get a newly issued copy of my birth certificate for a carte de sejour application and how long it should it take?
 
Answer: Prefectures often require your certificates to have been issued within three months, or to have been legalised. Getting a copy is often cheaper!
 
You can obtain a copy of your UK birth certificate online from the General Register Office – it will be sent after 14 days and cost £11-14. If you need it sooner you can pay £35 for an express service. It should only take you about 10 minutes to complete the form online
 
Question: Do you have any information about what will happen to children and students after Brexit?
 
Answer: Minors living with you won't need carte de sejours until they are 18, and thereafter they can apply in their own right, including for a student card if they are studying.
 
This French site and our own site have more details.
 
Photo: AFP
 
Question: Will I still be able to travel in and out of France for work post Brexit even if I haven’t received my CDS?
 
Answer:  Yes you will still be able to travel on your passport as you would do now, even if in the middle of a CDS application. The French authorities have also said that CDS in the new system will allow travel within Schengen for short periods (less than 3 months) for both business and travel. 
 
Question: Will Brits be able to claim disability benefits with a CDS?
 
Answer: Under the Withdrawal Agreement we have already said that benefits, like disability benefit, will continue to be paid to eligible British nationals in the EU after Brexit. That is also our intention under a no-deal scenario but we need to work through some of those details on how it works in practice with the French.
 
Stay tuned to our Living in France guide we update regularly with the information available:
 
Question: If you have less than six months remaining on your UK passport, is it best to renew now, or wait until after March 29th? Will people need to apply for a new one after Brexit?
 
Answer: We recommend renewing any passport with less than six months remaining.

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VISAS

‘Be ready to wait’: Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Now that Britain is out of the EU, just how much harder is the process of moving to France from the UK after Brexit? British readers share their experiences of applying for visas as 'third country nationals’.

'Be ready to wait': Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Whether you’re moving to France to live, or you’re a second-home owner wanting to spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in France, if you’re British you will now need a visa.

You can find more on how to apply for a visa, and how to understand what type of visa you need, in our visa section HERE.

But how these systems work in practice is not always the same as the theory.

To learn more about the process of getting a visa as a UK national, The Local asked British readers for their experiences of going through the system.

The consensus among respondents was that the whole thing was bureaucratic, though there were notable differences in experiences that ranged from the “easy” to the “complicated” and “time-consuming”, while the advice for future applicants was, routinely, have all your paperwork ready – and be prepared for a lengthy wait at one of the UK’s TLS centres

Appointments

Like most visas, French visas for UK nationals must be applied for before you leave home. You can find a full explanation of the process here, but the basic outline is that you apply for the visa online, and then have an in-person appointment in the UK in order to present your paperwork. 

Sue Clarke told us: “As long as you get all your paperwork together correctly and in the right order, the time it takes to receive your passport back with the visa in it once TLS has sent it off is only a few days.

“TLS – the centre which works on behalf of the French Embassy to collate your application – is so very busy,” she added. “That part of the process took hours even when you have an appointment.”

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: What type of French visa do you need?

“The visa process itself was fairly well run, and a decision for the initial visa was quick,” wrote Ian Sheppard, who successfully applied for a visa in July 2022. 

“Although getting the follow up residence permit was a pain, [and] took longer than expected, and there was little to no communication with severely limited ways to get in touch about the application.”

Sheppard thought that, biometrics apart, the process could have taken place online, and wondered whether the follow-up residence permit application could be more closely linked to the initial visa application, “rather than effectively submitting the same application twice”.

Georgina Ann Jolliffe described the process as “stressful”. 

“A lot of the initial stage was unclear and I needed a lot of reassurance about the visa trumping the Schengen 90 days. (The Local helped on that one),” she wrote. 

“[The] lack of ready communication was very stressful. It could be slicker, however staff at Manchester TLS were excellent.”

Jacqueline Maudslay, meanwhile, described the process as “complicated”, saying: “The waiting times for the appointment with the handling agent (TLS in the UK) are long and difficult to book online. We applied for a long-stay visa and were given a short-stay visa, with no reasoning and no option of talking to anyone.  

“We had met every criteria for the long-stay visa. There needs to be a contact link with the French Consular website directly for discussing visa applications.”

Handling agent TLS’s website – the first port of call for applicants from the UK – was a target for criticism.

“The TLS system is probably the most user unfriendly system I have ever used,” wrote Susan Kirby. “It throws up errors for no legitimate reason and even changes data you have keyed in. Dates are in American format so you have to be very careful and it can be very difficult to edit.”

Bea Addison, who applied for a visa in September 2021 with a view to retiring in France, agreed that it was complicated and believes the French system is chaotic and badly organised compared to other countries. “Even staff in the French Embassy in London were not knowledgeable of the process and documentation,” she wrote.

“The renewal in France was applied for in July 2022 … we have received an attestation that we will be granted renewal visas, which expired in October 2022, but we have not yet received a date to attend the préfecture due to a backlog.

Second-home owners

Many of our survey respondents were not moving to France, but were instead second-home owners who did not want to be constrained by the 90-day rule.

They have the option of remaining residents of the UK and applying for a short-stay French visitor visa – which must be renewed every year.

Second-home owner Peter Green told us: “Our appointment with TLS was delayed by two and a half hours and the whole experience was chaotic.

“We now have to go through exactly the same process again to get a visa for 2023. With second-home owners there should be a fast track that just involves proving financial viability, nothing else has changed. The system needs to be fully computerised.”

Second-home owner Alan Cranston told us his application met with no problems, but came with “unwanted cost and effort”. 

“Our six-month visa was for our first stint at our house in France in the spring, and that then overlapped our second visit in the autumn which was under Schengen. How that is handled seems to be a muddle (we did not leave the country for a day at the end of the six months, as some advise),” he said. 

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