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BREXIT

LATEST: How much money do I need to stay in France after Brexit?

France has now published the official document detailing the minimum resources British people need in order to apply for residency. Here's what you need to know.

LATEST: How much money do I need to stay in France after Brexit?
Photo: AFP

Contrary to the stereotype of all Brits in France as wealthy, gin-swilling expat types, many people in fact live a frugal life on low incomes – especially pensioners.

So the idea of there being a minimum income requirement to remain in France has caused a great deal of anxiety, and has lead some people to try and avoid registration altogether, for fear they will not meet the threshold.

The online process for residency applications is now open, and on Sunday the French government published in the Journal officiel an Arrêté outlining the minimum income requirements.

PREPARING FOR BREXIT

  • For articles on the rules around residency, healthcare, work and driving after the end of the transition period, head to our Preparing for Brexit section

Why is there a minimum at all? Doesn't the Withdrawal Agreement give British people already resident here the right to remain?

Well yes it does, but it is not unconditional.

The Withdrawal Agreement states that anyone who is legally resident in France before the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020 has the right to stay here. 

READ ALSO What the Withdrawal Agreement means for British people in France

But it's that phrase 'legally resident' that is important.

France and the UK were the only two countries in the EU that did not require people arriving under Freedom of Movement to register for a residency card. Because of that, many British people in France assumed that Freedom of Movement was unconditional, but in fact it has always been the case that legal residence has conditions.

And one of them is being able to prove that you are financially self sufficient and will not be a burden on the French state.

For people in work this is relatively straightforward but for people living off low incomes – pensioners with only a very small pension, early retirees or people who are otherwise economically inactive, it can be more problematic.

These have always been the rules, so technically it is nothing to do with Brexit, it's just that Brexit marks the first time that a lot of British people have formally entered the residency system and are therefore being exposed to the limit.

READ ALSO So you're living in France, but are you legally resident?

And what does financially self sufficient mean?

Some people think that simply having lived for a significant period of time in France and not having claimed any benefits or state help is enough to show that they're self sufficient, but in fact this is not the case.

READ ALSO Is my work 'genuine and effective' enough for me to remain in France?

So how much do I need?

The Withdrawal Agreement states that each application must be considered on a case-by-case basis, so there are no set-in-stone limits.

The French take the level for RSA as a guide figure. Revenue de Solidarité Active (RSA) is the French in-work benefit. Anyone earning below a certain amount is entitled to top-up benefits and this is the figure that is being used to calculate what is a reasonable income level.

As with all benefit levels, it changes over time, but currently the level is €564.78 per month.

There's good news for British people – the French government has said that unlike for other types of application, British people can declare this as an income for their household – so if you are a couple you only need €564.78 between you, not €564.78 each – and there is no higher rate for over 65s.

In more good news, RSA is the guideline figure that will be applied for all types of application. The French benefit level for pensions – ASPA – is higher and there fears that some people would not meet this threshold, but the Arrêté says that RSA is the guideline figure.

The document states: “The adequacy of resources is assessed in the light of the personal situation of the person concerned.

“Regardless of the number of people in the household, the amount required may not exceed the minimum amount of the RSA for a single person without children.”

The case-by-case decision process also means that if, for example, you fall slightly below the threshold but own your own home outright, the préfecture will have to take that into account when deciding your case.

To read the Arrêté in full, click here.

Only some people need to supply proof

In more good news, once the online portal for residency applications went live, it became clear that the French government is only asking for proof of means for people who have lived in France for less than five years.

People who have lived in France for longer than five years simply need to supply personal information, proof of address and some evidence of the date they arrived in France.

For more on how the application site works – click here.

People who have lived in France for less than five years apply as one of the following categories; employed or self-employed, student, job-seeker, retired or otherwise economically inactive, the family member of someone who fits the above criteria or the spouse, civil partner or live-in partner of a French person.

Of these categories, only those applying as 'retired or economically inactive' need to supply proof of their means. Documents that will be accepted for this include your most recent tax declaration, information on pension payments or recent bank statements.

Source: service-publique.fr

My income is lower than that, what can I do?

If you fall into the category of someone who needs to supply financial information and are worried that you fall below the threshold, there is some flexibility in the system. These figures are a guide and countries are legally obliged to decide each case on its merits, rather than just applying the figures as a cut-off point.

For example if you own your own home outright and therefore don't have to pay rent or a mortgage, that would be taken into account.

It's also a question of overall resources rather than just income, so if for example you took redundancy with a decent payout, that money would be taken into account when assessing whether you are self sufficient.

It sounds obvious but it's also important to include all types of income (eg rental income from a UK property) and all savings when you make your application. Some of the early cases of people being refused for residency on income grounds were of people who did actually have sufficient resources, but had not disclosed all financial information on their application.

Could I really be refused permission to stay in France?

Yes, it is possible. In total 3,367 orders to leave France were issued to EU citizens in 2017 because of failure to meet the legal residence conditions.

If you fall a long way below the threshold and that has always been the case while you have been in France then you have technically never been a legal resident here.

The good news is that there is some breathing space – British people have until June 30th 2021 to make their carte de séjour application.

So that gives people below the threshold seven months to think about how they can reach that – either by getting work or enrolling with the French unemployment office Pôle d'Emploi, setting up a business, renting out a few rooms in your house or if possible asking a family member to make you a regular income.

Can't I just not register?

Tempting as it might seem to just ignore the whole thing, this is not really an option. Once the deadline for applying for residency passes, British people in France will be legally required to have a carte de séjour.

Without one you will be an undocumented migrant and as such not eligible for healthcare or social security. If you travel out of France you may not be allowed back in and if authorities catch up with you you risk being deported.

Important – this all applies only to people who are already in France by the end of the transition period on December 31st, 2020. People who want to move after that fall under a different regime. 

 

 

Member comments

  1. I have a house in Languedoc and was considering moving over prior to the deadline of 01.01.2021, so now I am in the category of a tourist with restricted time allowed in France.

    Should I wish to move over in the future, can you tell me what the procedure would be?

    I should be self sufficient financially, having UK pensions and barring a dramatic decrease in the value of the GDP.

    I will be 79 years of age in December.

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TRAVEL NEWS

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. 

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