Brexit: Do I need health insurance to get residency in France?

As British residents in France begin to make their residency applications, one question that crops up again and again is health insurance.

Brexit: Do I need health insurance to get residency in France?
The situation around health insurance has caused some concern. Photo: AFP

British people who are resident in France before December 31st 2020 all have to apply for residency under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

READ ALSO What is the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and does it cover me?

The online process to make applications is now up and running, although the final deadline for applications is not until June 2021.

EXPLAINED This is how the new carte de séjour residency process works for Brits in France

And one question that The Local has been asked repeatedly is whether people need private health insurance, known as a mutuelle in France, in order to successfully apply.

So let's take a look at the rules.

Different groups of people are required to provide different information when they make their residency applications and people who have been here for more than five years do not need to provide detailed financial information or proof of health cover.

However if you have been here for less than five years, and you are not working, you will need to prove that you have sufficient resources to support yourself, and also proof that you have health coverage.

However, this does not necessarily have to be private health cover.

If you are already registered within the French health system and have a carte vitale health card, that is considered sufficient health cover.

If you fall under the S1 scheme (which covers pensioners, posted workers and people with certain disabilities) whereby the UK covers your healthcare costs then this will continue and this too is sufficient proof of health cover.

The French state healthcare system is known as assurance maladie, which literally translates as 'health insurance'. That translation has been the cause of confusion to some British people, for whom health insurance generally means private cover in addition to a state system.

But if a French form is asking you about assurance maladie, then you can give details of your carte vitale and registration within the French system as your response.

So do you need a mutuelle at all?

The French state system is a reimbursement one – once you are registered within the system you pay upfront at the doctor, hospital or pharmacy for any appointments, treatments or medication that you receive.

READ ALSO How to get a carte vitale in France and why you need one

You then swipe your carte vitale and a portion of the cost is reimbursed into your bank account.

Exactly how much is reimbursed varies depending on the type of treatment, but it is generally around 80 percent.

To cover the final portion of the cost, many people in France have a top-up policy known as a mutuelle which reimburses the rest of the cost. However these are not compulsory.

If you are an employee your employer is required to pay at least half of the cost of this, but they are generally cheaper than health insurance policies in the UK.

Find out more about how mutuelles work HERE.

What about people who move after December 31st?

This is a different story because the Withdrawal Agreement only applies to people who move here before the end of the transition period – which is December 31st, 2020.

Exactly what the deal will be for people who want to move after that we still don't know.

But if the same or similar rules are applied to Brits as to people from other non EU countries such as American and Australia then this will necessitate visas which often ask for proof of complete health cover on private health insurance plans, which can be pricey for people who are older or have long-term illnesses.

Here's what we know so far about moving to France from 2021.

For more information about residency, healthcare, travel, pets and driving, head to our Preparing for Brexit section.

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Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.