Under the terms of the Brexit deal, all Britons in France will have to apply for special residency permits that will specifically state they are protected by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Brits have until December 31st, 2020 to become legally resident in France and then will have until July 1st 2021 to make the application, and until October 1st 2021 to have the card.
“British citizens residing in France will be issued specific residence permits 'United Kingdom’s withdrawal agreement from the EU' for which they will have to apply before July 1st, 2021,” reads the message from the French government.
The deadline is for you to have got your application in, not for you to have received the card.
Everyone currently resident in France, and those who become resident before December 31st, needs to use the site. People who already have a carte de séjour permanent can use the site to swap it for the new card, everyone else has to make a new application.
The exception to this is British people who have dual nationality with an EU country.
Early previews of the site reveal a simplified process with much less supporting paperwork than was required by the préfectures for residency applications.
Kalba Meadows from citizens' rights group France Rights said: “Although there’s still plenty of detail to come – we await the decree, for example – the news so far is good.
“We’re delighted to say that the French government has taken into account many of the concerns we’ve been raising over the last three years and the new system will be much simpler for many of you, especially for those who've lived in France for more than five years.
“The Ministry has asked us to reassure everyone that the key to the new system is simplicity and flexibility.”
The site is available in English and has a guide for the paperwork needed for each type of application (employed, self-employed, student, retired etc).
Everyone in France submits their application on the online portal and the application is then passed to the local préfecture for processing. Once the application has been processed, applicants are then invited to their local préfecture to supply fingerprints and ID and the card is then posted out.
The cards are free – earlier information on a €119 charge related only to a no-deal Brexit scenario.
There are still some details to be clarified, especially around exactly what documents will be accepted as proof of residency, income etc, but here is what we know so far;
If you already have a carte de séjour permanent (10 years) – you still need to use the new portal if you have lived in France for more than five years and you already obtained a carte de séjour permanent under the old system, but in your case it is a fairly simple process of swapping your old card for a new one. You will need to upload your old card to the system and also provide ID (a passport).
If you have lived in France for more than 5 years but don't have a carte de séjour permenant – if you have lived in France for more than five years but don't have a current card (and expired cartes de séjour cannot be exchanged) or only have the short-term five-year card then you need to use the online portal to make a new application, but the burden of proof is lower for you than for more recent arrivals.
You won't need to provide detailed financial information, just proof that you have been settled in France for five years or more and are still resident here – for example through rental contracts or work contracts. If your application is successful you will be given a carte de séjour permenant.
If you have lived in France for less than 5 years – more recent arrivals, whether they have a carte de séjour or not, will need to provide more proof that they meet the criteria for residency.
You apply as one of the following criteria; employee, self-employed, student, retired or otherwise economically inactive or a family member of someone who meets those criteria (family member can include spouse or partner). You will need to provide proof of your status, for example recent payslips for employees.
People in the economically inactive category will need to show they meet the minimum income requirements – click here for more details on those – and also that they have health over. This can be either private health insurance or being registered within the French health system. If you are registered in the French system and have a carte vitale you do not need any extra cover such as a mutuelle (although it is a good idea if you can, in order to avoid unexpected health costs).
If your application is successful you will be given a 5-year carte de séjour, which you can then exchange for a carte de séjour permenant in five years' time, provided you are still legally resident in France.
If you applied using the no-deal Brexit website – this probably won't affect many people, but back in the autumn of 2019 – when a no-deal Brexit loomed – the French government briefly went live with a online carte de séjour application site. People who used this do not need to make a new application, their application will be transferred automatically onto the new system – you should have received an email at the start of the year telling you that your application will be transferred.
“If you are a British citizen or a family member of a British citizen and you have already applied for a residence permit on the no-deal Brexit website, you do not need to make another online application,” said the French government.
“Your application has been taken into account and will be processed by the local préfecture before the obligation to hold a residence permit becomes enforceable.”
If you have an application pending with your local préfecture – most local préfectures stopped accepting applications from British people from 2019 because of the uncertainty of the situation, but some still accepted applications. If yours is still pending then you will unfortunately have to go through the process again on the online portal – on the upside you will probably find this process more straightforward than the one demanded by the préfecture.
You have an application pending for French (or other EU) citizenship – if you are a French citizen or a citizen of another EU country you will not need a carte de séjour, you can live and work in France under freedom of movement. However depending on when you applied there is no guarantee that your new passport will arrive before June 30th 2021, which is the deadline to have made your application on the residency website.
The average time to process an application for French citizenship is 18 months to two years, although it varies from place to place. You have plenty of time, but bear in mind that once the June 30th 2021 deadline passes, just having an application in for citizenship is not enough to make you legally able to stay.