‘Nervous’ – How British people in France feel about the Brexit residency process

A wide-reaching survey by citizens' rights group France Rights has revealed that almost half of British residents in France are worried about their post-Brexit future.

'Nervous' - How British people in France feel about the Brexit residency process
Photo: AFP

The survey focused specifically on applying for residency, something that all British residents in France now face doing, and found people were worried about the residency requirements, the bureaucracy necessary and the technical demands.

The survey was done by citizens' rights group France Rights and of the 2,727 people who took part, 45 percent said they were either nervous, very nervous or don't believe they will be able to complete the process. You can read the full survey here.

The issue of residency for British people in France has been a fraught one, with contradictory information given at different times over the last four years – particularly on the three occasions when the UK hovered on the brink of a no-deal exit.

As the situation now stands, all British people living in France need to apply for a new residency permit (carte de séjour) but an online portal for applications that was due to go live in July has now been pushed back to October.

READ ALSO Carte de séjour – what we know so far about the new online process 

Of the people who said they were worried about applying, 25 percent worried they would not meet the criteria for residency, 25 percent said they always felt nervous about dealing with French official processes and a further 16 percent worried about the technical aspects of the online process – either because they were not good with computers or because their internet connection is poor.

A further 13 percent said they feared it would be too complicated and cited long delays in previous applications for residency, healthcare or swapping driving licences with one respondent saying “fonctionnaires and easy procedures are not common bedfellows here”.

Of the people concerned that they may not meet the legal conditions for residence, the great majority were focused on income and resource requirements, with 23 percent saying they only had irregular or part time work and 15 percent saying they were retired and worried that their income was too low to qualify for residency.

READ ALSO How much money do I need to stay in France after Brexit?


The majority of respondents added that having clear, easy to follow information in English would help them to feel less worried, with many commenting that information from both the British and French governments had been ‘basic’, ‘woefully lacking in content’ and ‘not always correct’.

France Rights spokesman Kalba Meadows said: “For over three quarters of those who are nervous to a greater or lesser degree, the key to feeling less nervous is having access to clear and detailed information, in English.

“The importance of detailed, legally correct information cannot be overstated in reducing uncertainty and anxiety.

“Anxiety and stress are likely to lead to mistakes being made in the application process and therefore good information should also have a role in reducing the percentage of failed or incorrect applications. In a constitutive system – where a failed application can lead to loss of residence status – this is vital.

“Lack of reassurance, communication and information from official sources has done little to bolster confidence and has been instrumental in raising anxiety levels. We recommend that this is addressed via the instigation of a robust communication plan by both the British Embassy and the French government.”

She added: “16 percent of respondents have IT concerns, rising to 25 percent of those over 65 who don’t have a current carte de séjour. These are significant percentages and we strongly recommend that such concerns are taken seriously by the French government.”

For more information on residency, healthcare, pensions and driving after Brexit, head to our Preparing for Brexit section or to the France Rights website here.







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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.