British government ‘hopes for deal with France to guarantee healthcare cover’ after Brexit

The British embassy has moved to reassure UK citizens living in France about access to healthcare after Brexit.

British government 'hopes for deal with France to guarantee healthcare cover' after Brexit
British pensioners in France are worried about their healthcare. Photo: AFP

The announcement from the UK government on Monday that pensioners would only be covered for six months after a no-deal Brexit sparked consternation among the many British retirees who live in France.

The healthcare costs of British pensioners in France are currently covered by the UK government under the S1 scheme, but on Monday British Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that in the case of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would only keep covered the costs for six months after exit date, unless a separate deal was reached with the French government.

READ ALSO 'It's torture' How ailing Brits in France face the uncertainty of healthcare after Brexit

The announcement sparked some questioning from ctiizens' rights group Remain in France Together (RIFT) and in response the British Embassy in Paris has released extra information that it hopes will calm fears.

The key is that the six month limit only applies if Britain and France cannot reach a bilateral agreement on covering healthcare costs for each other's citizens who live abroad.

And although detailed negotiations have not yet begun, the UK government says it is hopeful of securing agreement.

“In the absence of a wider deal, the UK has proposed to France that we maintain the current reciprocal healthcare arrangements until at least December 31st  2020.

“We are pushing for France to agree to this as soon as possible. Under such an arrangement the UK would continue to pay France for the healthcare costs for UK state pensioners (and other S1 holders) living in France, and for UK residents visiting France.

“The UK has introduced legislation which would allow us to do this. The UK Government is very keen to agree an arrangement with France and is pressing for technical discussions to commence as soon as possible.”

France has already stated in its no-deal Brexit ordonance published in April that it will continue to cover healthcare for British pensioners in France for two years after Brexit – although this is based on the principle of reciprocal arrangements.

Whoever ends up covering the costs – it's important that British pensioners make sure they're registered within the French system.

The embassy added: “In a situation where we do not have an arrangement in place with France, the UK would provide support to people living in France that are affected by this change, allowing them time to register with the French system or to make other arrangements.

“UK insured would have six months to register if they decided they wanted to remain in France, and the UK Government would also cover healthcare costs during the registration period should these not be covered.”

Mike Harlow, from citizens rights group RIFT, said: “I think what this does is help allay fears that the UK government are trying to do something, but it does depend upon the French authorities agreeing.

“My main concern is that UK citizens in France understand that they are eligible to join the French healthcare system after living here legally for three months through PUMa.

“Those with a carte vitale through S1 are already in the system and it is a matter of transferring to PUMa. There may well be costs incurred through social charges, but there will be cover.”

For more on PUMa, how to register for it and why it might involve incurring extra charges, click here



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Why some Brits in France are facing bigger tax bills since Brexit

Over the summer people living in France have received their tax bills, and some Brits who are residents here will have noticed that their bill is larger than usual - here's why.

Why some Brits in France are facing bigger tax bills since Brexit

Brits who live in France and make a tax declaration here, but have income from the UK, may have noticed that their tax bill has increased this year – here’s why and whether you can challenge the increase. 


Yes, this is Brexit related and it refers to social charges on non-French income. The standard rate for these charges are 7.5 percent for income from an EU country and 17.2 percent for income from a non-EU country.

The tax bills received over the summer relate to the annual French tax declaration filed in April 2022, covering the 2021 tax year. In other words, the first year after the end of the Brexit transition period.

Social charges

Social charges are levies with a social purpose introduced in France in the 1990s to finance the country’s complex social security system.

If you have a French payslip you will already be familiar with them, and they actually make up the bulk of deductions from salaries, significantly more than income tax.

READ ALSO How to understand your French payslip

One of the big questions is whether France’s social charges are actually a ‘tax’ – the government repeatedly insists they’re not, for all that they look like a tax and are paid like a tax. 

The position on French social charges has changed several times in recent years, sometimes in response to court action all centred on whether this money that government deducts from your income can be called a ‘tax’ or not.

Katey Murray, at The Spectrum IFA Group, explained: “Article 29 of the amended Finance law of 2012 extended social charges to rental income from French properties and capital gains on properties for people who are not French tax resident.

“In 2015, a Dutch national challenged the fact that he was paying social charges in France and social security contributions in the Netherlands. The case went before the ECJ, which ruled these levies were similar to social security contributions and therefore contrary to European law.”

France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, confirmed the ECJ’s ruling. “French tax offices then, if a claim was made to them, reimbursed undue social charges,” Murray said.

“However, the French Government stated that these claims could only be made by someone covered for their healthcare by the system of another European country (EU, EEA or Switzerland) and not someone covered by a non-European health system. 

“This was confirmed by the ECJ for a French national living in China in a case in January 2018.”

Foreigners in France

And it’s this ‘healthcare system’ distinction that has become the key detail for Brits in France, clarified by a court ruling from March 2022 on the details of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. 

Social charges are currently set at 7.5 percent for income from an EU country, or 17.2 percent for income from a non-EU country. So income from the UK jumped to the higher rate at the end of the Brexit transition period.

However the ECJ ruling on healthcare cover is the key bit – essentially if you are already contributing to another European country’s social security system, you benefit from the lower rate.

This mainly affects two groups – Brits living in the UK (and therefore covered by the NHS) who have income in France, and Brits who are living in France and who have an S1, which states that their healthcare costs are covered by the NHS.

S1 holders are mainly British pensioners living in France, but the scheme can also apply to other groups including students and posted workers. 

Brits who are living in France and are covered by the French health system pay the higher rate on income from the UK. 

Technically the 7.5 percent rate is a ‘social levy’ rather than the prélèvements sociaux.

The ‘social levy’ is not charged on pensions, so if you are an S1 holder who receives a British pension, you will not have to pay any social charges at all, while certain types of property income may also be exempt from social charges.


As we stated above, social charges are not a tax (although they are deducted from your income by the tax office).

Taxes on income from the UK is covered by the bilateral dual-taxation treaty between France and the UK, which states that you don’t have to pay tax in France on income that you have already paid tax on in the UK. 

So the first thing to check on your tax bill is whether deductions relate to impôt (tax) or prélèvements sociaux (social charges).

Challenge your tax bill

So what to do if you think you have been incorrectly charged on income from the UK?

If you are an S1 holder, it’s a case of telling the tax office that you benefit from the lower 7.5 percent social levy, rather than the 17.2 percent social charge.

Murray said: “You can state that you are not subject to social charges by ticking boxes 8SH/8SI on your tax form (2042 form) or, if you have been charged at the higher rate, you can claim them back on your personal page on the website.”

If the over-charge relates to a different issue – for example you have been charged both tax and the social charge or charged on exempt income – your first step is talking to the tax office, either in person or over the phone.

READ ALSO How to challenge your French tax bill

This article is a general overview of the tax rules and is not intended as a substitute for financial advice, if your financial affairs are complicated you are always better off getting professional help from an accountant who specialises in international taxation.