French government’s new decree for Brits in no-deal Brexit: What you need to know

The French government on Wednesday morning published a new decree laying out the rights of British people living in France in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

French government's new decree for Brits in no-deal Brexit: What you need to know
Although negotiations are ongoing, the French government has published a decree in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Photo: AFP

The government decree covers British people who are already resident in France on the date that Britain leaves the EU – which is currently scheduled for April 12, although this could be extended – and only applies in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

It is the first time the French government has laid out in detail exactly what criteria various different groups of British people – employed people, self-employed, students and family members – will have to fulfill if they want to remain in the country.


An ordonnance published in February gave British people in France a one year 'breathing period' after a no-deal Brexit in which they could apply for a carte de sejour.

The new decree lays out what paperwork each group will need to apply for residency.


People who already have a permanent carte de séjour as European citizens will be allowed to simply exchange it for one of the new cards by providing their valid passport and their current residency card. 

If you are applying for a residency card for the first time, and have lived in France for more than five years, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • A valid passport.
  • A recent photograph.
  • A document confirming the date of your arrival in France.
  • Proof that you meet the standard conditions for a temporary residence permit.

These conditions vary for different groups of people and they are as follows;

If you are applying for a student residency permit, you will need the following documents:

  • A certificate of enrolment in a public or private school or college or vocational training organisation.
  • If you have been enrolled for more than one year, you will need to prove your attendance and also the seriousness of your studies. 
  • If you apply for a multi-year student residency permit, you need documented proof that the course you are studying is covered by a EU programme. 

If you are applying as an employee, you will need the following documents:

  • Your employment contract. It must be a long-term contract, known in France as CDI, rather than a short-term one.
  • A recent payslip from the last six months.

If you are applying for a temporary working permit, you will need the following documents:

  • The fixed term contract, known in France as CDD.
  • A recent payslip from the last three months.

If you are applying as a freelance or self-employed, you will need to present the following documents:

  • Proof of registration in the trade and companies registry or proof of a social security registration for self-employed people. 
  • Justification of sufficient resources to support yourself, regardless of benefits and allowances. Your resources will be individually assessed. If your resources are not deemed sufficient, you might still qualify for a permit if you can prove that you are the owner of your accommodation or receiving free accommodation.

*You will not be required to prove sufficient resources if you receive a disability allowance.

If you are applying as a family member to a British national who already has a permit, you will need:

  • Proof of the family link.
  • If you are dependent on the family member's income, you will need to prove they can financially and materially support you.
  • A copy of the passport of the accompanied British national.
  • If you are applying as someone who had a relationship before the withdrawal date but that broke up after that date, you must also present proof of the separation and also a copy of the passport of the British national you were connected to.

The decree does not specifically mention retired people, but anyone who doesn't fall into any of the above categories will need to apply for a residency card and supply:

  • A valid passport.
  • A recent photograph.
  • A residency permit (carte de sejour)
  • If you do not have a residency permit, documents establishing the date of your arrival in France
  • Justification of sufficient resources to support yourself, regardless of benefits and allowances.

The decree does not contain any figures as to what is deemed a “sufficient resource” but says that applications will be individually assessed.

However there is an upper limit –  in no case must this be more than the level of the French in-work benefit RSA, Kalba Meadows from the campaign group RIFT has pointed out.

The RSA limit is currently set at  €559.74 per month for someone living alone, and €839.62 per month for a couple. 

There are other figures for families with children – see the government website here for details. 

The decree adds that if resources are not deemed to be sufficient, anyone who can prove that they own their own home – or are entitled to free accommodation – may receive a favourable decision, although this is not guaranteed.

What about people who have lived in France for less than five years?

People who have lived in France for less than five years cannot exchange a carte de sejour if they already have one, but must make a new application. 

The paperwork needed for each group is broadly the same as for people who have lived in France for more than five years, with a couple of exceptions:

If you are applying as an employee you will apply for a four-year carte de séjour pluriannuelle only if you have a long-term CDI contract.

If you are on a short-term CCD contract you will apply for a carte de séjour temporaire marked ‘travailleur temporaire’, which last for one year at a time.

Anyone who is in receipt on jobseekers allowance must provide

  • proof that you're registered as a job seeker;
  • salary slips showing at least 3 months working activity in the previous year;
  • proof that you have health cover.

Anyone who is retired or otherwise economically non-active must provide

  • proof that you have resources that are 'sufficient to maintain yourself', not including social security benefits (for example RSA);
  • proof that you have health cover.

So how has the decree gone down with Britons? Is it good news or bad?

Kalba Meadows from RIFT says in a post: “It's a mixture, and there are some clarifications needed before we can properly answer that question!”
For those over 65, on the whole it's good, as it reduces the level of 'sufficient resources' from its current (and higher) level of ASPA down to the lower RSA level.
For those who are working or self-employed, it means that you'll have to justify a certain level of resources for the first time – previously you'd have been required only to show that your work was 'genuine and effective'.

The first application for any residency permit will also incur a fee of €100 so the fee will be applicable for those without a carte de sejour.

Although British people are entitled to remain in France for up to a year after the withdrawal date, applications for residency must be filed within six months of the date that Britain finally leaved – which is currently set for April 12, but may yet change again.

The decree was published on Wednesday in the Journal Officiel, where all new French laws and decrees must be published before they come in to force.

To READ more about your rights in France you can visit the RIFT website.

Member comments

  1. has anyone an idea how to prove the date they entered France over 5 years ago taking into account the inavailability of travel ticket after this time and UK passport not being stamped within EU? This seems to be a new requirement that the majority here will find it impossible to comply with.

  2. You will have to supply 5yrs. worth of tax returns to prove you have lived here and paid all your dues and not tried to fly under the radar. A certificate can be obtained from your local Tax Office, but they will probably still want to see French bank accounts, utility bills etc. for 5yrs. as well, plus note of pensions if this is applicable.

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France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport.