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LIVING IN FRANCE

Carte de séjour: This is how the residency card website works for Brits in France

Since Brexit, Brits living in France need to acquire a residency card if they want to stay - and they have until September 30th to make the application. Here's how the process works.

Carte de séjour: This is how the residency card website works for Brits in France
Photo: Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Who needs to use it?

The online portal is ONLY for British people who were full time residents in France before December 31st 2020 (the end of the Brexit transition period) and their family members. Anyone moving to France after that date needs a visa – details HERE

Of those living here pre-December 31st, pretty much everyone needs to use the site to get a residency card, known in French as a carte de séjour. There are two exceptions, if you have dual nationality with an EU country such as France or Ireland you do not need a carte de séjour, although you may use the site if you wish.

Anyone who made an application on the no-deal portal that was briefly online in October 2019 does not need to make a new application, their application will be transferred automatically to the new system – this covers around 9,000 people.

Everyone else needs to use it, including those who already have a carte de séjour permanent (10 years) and those who are married to a French national.

Under 18s do not need a carte se séjour but families and married couples apply separately, there is no joint carte de séjour.

The deadline for applications was originally June 30th but this was extended until September 30th, 2021. Anyone who has not made their application before then becomes an undocumented migrant.

Where is it?

You can find the portal HERE.

How does it work?

The site has been made as simple and user-friendly as possible, with only the minimum of supporting documents requested. Those who have used it have mostly been pleasantly surprised by its simplicity. It is also available in English.

It includes a flowchart explaining what information and documents are needed for each type of application – on the welcome page click on ‘lien tableau‘ in the third section to access the chart.

Graphic: Interior Ministry

The site can also save your application, so if you get started then realise you are missing a crucial document you can save your application for up to 20 days and go back to it later – to do this click ‘code de suivi‘ at the top of the welcome page then fill in your email address so the half-completed application be sent to you.

All supporting documents such as your passport and proof of address must be scanned and uploaded to the site – there is no facility to send these separately by post.

In good news there is no need to buy an expensive scanner, if you have a smartphone you will find plenty of free scanner apps in the app store and all will produce documents of high enough quality to be used with your application.

What do you need to do? 

When you first access the site you will be asked to tick the box saying you accept the terms and conditions then asked if this is your first application. This question refers only to applications made on the site – any previous applications made directly at the préfecture are not included in this.

You will then be asked whether you are British or the family-member of a British person and how long you have lived in France. Depending on your answers to these questions, you will then automatically be sent to the relevant bit of the site.

More than five years – if you have lived in France for more than five years you will be asked if you already have a carte de sejour permanent (10 years). If you do, the process then becomes extremely simple as you are essentially just swapping your old card for a new one. Input the details of your current carte de séjour, then your personal information such as name, address, date of birth and contact details and submit your application.

If you don’t have a carte de séjour permanent, then the process is still pretty simple, you will be asked for your passport, proof of your current address such as a utility bill, the date you arrived in France and some documentation relating to your arrival date – this can be a work contract, rental contract or utility bill. It’s worth pointing out that there is there no difference in the type of card you get if you have lived here for six years or 26 years, so if you don’t have documents relating to your exact arrival date any document that proves you were resident in France more than five years ago will be accepted. You don’t need to provide proof of your income or employment status.

Less than five years – For more recent arrivals the application process is a little more complicated. You will be directed to a page that asks you what category you are applying under. These categories are; employed or self-employed, student, job-seeker, economically inactive (including pensioners), the family member of someone who meets the above conditions or the spouse, registered partner or concubin (ie live-in partner) of a French person.

People married to a French person get a carte de séjour permanent, while those pacséd (in a civil partnership) or living together get a five-year card.

READ ALSO Are you a concubine in French law?

If you tick the employed/self-employed box you will be asked which category you fall into – salaried employee on either a temporary (CDD) or permanent (CDI) contract, self-employed or business owner, cross-border worker working in another country but living in France, corporate officer or investor or researcher.

Students, job-seekers and employees will be asked to provide proof of their status such as an employment contract, details of registration with the Pôle emploi (unemployment office) or details of a study course.

You will then be asked for your passport and proof of your address – documents accepted include utility bills, rental contracts or rent receipts or a taxe d’habitation notice from the last six months. If you live in someone else’s house and have none of these documents, you will need a signed and dated document from your host stating that you live there and your host will also need to provide ID and proof of address.

Only those who are applying as economically inactive will also be asked to provide proof of medical cover (and being registered in the French health system and having a carte vitale is enough for this, you do not need a mutuelle or other top-up private health insurance) and proof of having sufficient resources. Documents accepted for this include your most recent tax declaration, bank statements or details of pension payments.

For full details of what is counted as sufficient resources, click here.

Then what?

Once you have provided the relevant details, everyone then needs to fill in their full name, nom d’usage (name you are known by, for most people this will be the same as the surname but it can be different for married women), date of birth, place of birth, nationality, passport number and expiry date, full address (be careful this is the full address as it determines which préfecture deals with your application), phone number and email address.

The email address is also crucial as this is how your préfecture will communicate with you about your application.

READ ALSO What’s in a name: How to fill our forms in France

There is also an optional box for ‘any other comments’ which you can use if you feel you don’t fit neatly into a category or want to add more information. Even if you are using the English version of the site, it’s better to do these comments in French if possible.

You then again tick that you agree and to the terms and conditions and answer a simple maths question – don’t panic, this isn’t complicated algebra, it’s just so that the site can determine that you are not a robot – then submit your application.

What happens next?

First you receive a confirmation email. This attestation d’enregistrement is important because it acts as proof that you are a resident and have applied for the card. It can be used for all official purposes such as at the border, for employers and for social benefits until you get your card, so keep it safe and print out a couple of copies just in case.

This is an automated email and should arrive within a couple of hours of you submitting the form – check your spam or junk folders if it has not arrived.

The next communication you will get is an email from your préfecture, usually several weeks or months later but response times vary (see below) with the status of your application.

If your application is complete they will then invite you to the préfecture for an appointment to provide your fingerprints, show your passport (and old carte de séjour permanent if you have one) and provide a new passport-sized photo. If documents are missing, you may be asked for extra information.

Applicants are reassured that the appointment at the préfecture is a simple administrative appointment to provide the above things, and will not involve any kind of interview. In most cases it takes about 10 minutes.

Applicants are asked not to phone or turn up at their local préfecture asking about progress, you will be contacted by email.

Once you have been to the préfecture, your card will then be posted out to you, usually within a month of the appointment.

How long does the application take to process?

Application times vary according to different préfectures, some areas get a lot of applications, some not very many. In some areas where a lot of Brits live, préfectures have been given extra staff to help process the applications but préfectures have to make do with their usual staffing levels.

Some people have started to get appointment dates and others have received cards, but plenty are still waiting to hear from their local préfecture. There are more details on the timeframe HERE.

What is the deadline?

You have until September 30th, 2021 to make the application – extended from the original deadline of June 30th –  and from October 1st 2021 it will be compulsory for all British people in France to have a carte de séjour.

What if I don’t have internet access or don’t feel confident using the online system?

The application must be made using the online portal, but there is help available for people who either don’t have internet access or don’t feel confident using the online process.

If they don’t have friends or family who can help there are four organisations which have been given funding by the UK government to provide support to British people with the applications – click here for more details.

Still have questions? Head to our Dealing with Brexit section for more details on residency and healthcare or email [email protected] and we will do our best to answer them. 

Member comments

  1. Hello, I have made our applications today for Residency, using the online portal. It was straightforward, thankfully. But I believe it mentioned that I’d receive a confirmation email after some hours, and not minutes! As I haven’t yet received this confirmation email, perhaps that’s correct? Any clues, anyone? Thanks. Leah

  2. Really easy, intuitive site. Still waiting for the confirmation email a couple of hours later, but it’s day one and it will take time, but that’s only to be expected. But it hasn’t crashed. That’s a new idea. In the UK it would have crashed inside the first five minutes and been down for a week while everyone blamed each other (-:
    Good luck all…..

  3. Registered both myself and my husband in under half an hour, acknowledgement received within an hour. Far easier than the locator form required to enter the UK. Well done les français!

  4. I agree, the online application was straightforward and we got both of ours submitted this afternoon. Again, no confirmation email as yet, but we’re not concerned about that at this early stage.

  5. HA! I’ve just received my confirmation email. Around 4 hours after submitting my application. Fingers crossed!

  6. Yes confirmation said to be hours not minutes. Awaiting mine. The strange wording for house number and or name is confusing “Channel number, extension, label of the channel” Apart from that and how to write ones name correctly it went pretty well. Merci gouv.fr

  7. I’m still waiting, too! I filled in the English version of their form, so I seem to have acquired a knighthood – “Sir” Bryan Woy

  8. The confirmation finally arrived at midnight, so that’s not too bad, I guess. I now seem to be “Monsieur ou Madame” Bryan Woy rather than “Sir” Bryan Woy.

  9. Feeling smug I fell at the last, weird, hurdle. The security question asked: 2 + 8 which I stupidly made 10. Whole form rejected. What could have gone wrong?! Any advice gratefully received.

  10. Hold it right there re my above!!
    Confirmation received – took an hour!! I had no confirmation on this application that it had been sent, just a return to a blank form.

  11. I have 10 year Titre de Sejour. When I tried to send completed application form got Error 503 Service Unavailable. Guru Meditation. Varnish cache server.

  12. Seems too easy compared with applying for a carte vitale!
    I haven’t had my email confirmation yet though. Someone should have checked their translation ? Channel number .. if you haven’t got one it gets stuck.

  13. I think you are referring to the compulsory line in the address entry where the line with “channel” number wants your house number and street name.

    Did two applications this morning and received receipts by email within 15 minutes. For those with current 10 year carte de sejours, only a scan/photo of one side of the existing card is needed- very easy.

  14. Question: I have a son turning 18 in a few days. I have an existing 10 year CdS and he was included as a minor on that and has an official Document de Circulation for travel. Does anyone know if that is that sufficient to follow the existing CdS track or does he need all the proof of residency stuff, which is tricky as he has almost no official foot print in France? Thanks.

  15. Question: I have a son turning 18 in a few days. I have an existing 10 year CdS and he was included as a minor on that and has an official Document de Circulation for travel. Does anyone know if that is that sufficient to follow the existing CdS track or does he need all the proof of residency stuff, which is tricky as he has almost no official foot print in France? Thanks.

  16. My wife and I had five year Carte ee Sejour from 2018. We completed the on line process in November. Mid January we received emails saying our new Cartes would be posted out to our home address, no visit to the prefecture required, and bingo we now have new shiny 1 year Cartes. Well done dept 64

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For members

DRIVING

Reader question: Do I have to swap my driving licence in France?

If you're living in France you may eventually need to swap your driving licence for a French one - but how long you have to make the swap and exactly how you do it depends on where your licence was issued. Here's the low-down.

Reader question: Do I have to swap my driving licence in France?

First things first, how long are you staying in France?

Holiday driving

If you’re just in France for a short period, such as for a holiday, you will usually be able to drive a vehicle using your usual driving licence.

You may also need an International Driving Permit – it’s basically a translation of a domestic driving licence that allows the holder to drive a private motor vehicle in any country or jurisdiction that recognises the document.

Check with driving authorities in your home country to see if you need one to drive in France. 

Drivers with European licences and UK and NI licence-holders are exempt from the International Driving Permit requirement.

French resident

So far, so simple. It starts to get a bit trickier if you plan to move to France for a longer period. Then, everything depends on the country in which your driving licence was issued (and not your nationality, in this case it’s all about where the licence was issued).

READ ALSO Driving in France: Understanding the new French traffic laws

If you hold a licence from an EU / EEA country

These are relatively straightforward. Because of freedom of movement rules within the EU full driving licences from Member States are valid in France. EEA country licences have the same status.

Holders of an EU/EEA driver’s licence are not required to exchange their foreign licence for a French one as long as they have not picked up any points on their licence through committing traffic offences such as speeding.

READ ALSO Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you move to France permanently, you may, however, change your licence for a French one, by following this procedure.

What if you’re from the UK?

For a while, official advice left many in limbo and others stranded without a licence altogether

But – Good News! – British and French authorities announced in June 2021 that a reciprocal agreement had been reached that allows people who live in France to drive on a UK or NI licence that was issued before January 1st, 2021 to continue using them.

They only need to exchange when their photocard or actual licence runs out. You can apply to exchange your licence for a French one once you get within six months of the expiry date of either the licence or the photocard, whichever is first.

You may also be ordered to exchange your licence if you commit certain traffic offences.

Anyone whose licence was issued after January 1st, 2021, will need to exchange it for a French one within one year of moving to France. 

Full details on the rules and how to do the exchange are available here

Non-European licences

Anyone who holds a non-European driving licence may drive in France for a year after their legal residence in France is confirmed on their original licence. After that, if they stay in France any longer, they should apply for a French driving licence.

This is where things get a little tricky. If the state that issued the non-European licence has signed a bilateral agreement with France, the exchange is relatively straightforward. It involves applying to the French driving licence agency ANTS and providing them with all the necessary information.

READ ALSO Grace period for fines over France’s new law on winter tyres

If, however, the driver passed their test in a country that does not have such an agreement in place, then they will have to take a French driving test before they can legally continue driving in France.

The French government has a list of countries that have a swap rule with France listed here (pdf) and on its Welcome to France website for people looking to move to the country.

You can find the online portal to make the swap here.

US and Canadian licences

If you have an American or Canadian licence things are even more complicated, because it depends on the state that your licence was issued in. 

The following US States have licence swap agreements with France.

  • Delaware*,  Maryland*, Ohio*, Pennsylvania**, Virginia*, South Carolina, Massachusetts,  New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin*, Arkansas*, Oklahoma*, Texas*, Colorado*, Florida**, Connecticut**

* Swap for Permis B licences in France,
** Swap for Permis A and/or B licences in France
see below for what this means

Drivers with licences from States not listed above cannot simply swap their licence, instead they have to take a French driving test within a year of moving to France, or stop driving.

The following Canadian provinces have licence swap agreements with France:

  • Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland et Labrador, Québec, Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia

Only New Brunswick offers a straight like-for-like swap. All the others swap full Canadian licences for French B permits. Drivers with licences issued from other provinces will have to pass a French driving test before they can hold a French driving licence.

Permis A, Permis B

The Permis A French licence is basically for motorbikes. Holders can ride two- or three-wheeled vehicles, with or without a sidecar.

The Permis B French driving licence allows holders to drive a vehicle with a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes, which seats no more than nine people. This includes standard passenger cars, people carriers and minibuses.

READ ALSO What to do if you are hit by an uninsured driver in France?

What else you need to know

First things first. Unlike numerous other nations, including the UK, having points on your licence in France is a good thing. 

Full, ‘clean’ French licences have 12 points, with motorists losing points if they are guilty of motoring offences.

Anyone who has been driving for more than three years, and who exchanges a full, clean licence in France will, therefore, receive a French licence with 12 points. 

READ ALSO COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Provisional French licences – issued to motorists who passed their tests within the past three years – are loaded with six points, rising to the full 12 after three years of ‘clean’ driving here.

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