Brexit calendar: What are the future key dates for Brits in France?

A key Brexit date is looming at the end of the year, but for British people in France, there are some other important dates to be aware of in the coming months.

Brexit calendar: What are the future key dates for Brits in France?
Travel will change quite significantly for Brits from January. Photo: AFP

December 31st, 2021

The transition period that has been in place since Britain left the EU on January 31st 2020 – and kept most things the same – comes to an end on December 31st.

Freedom of movement ends

This date marks the last day that British nationals can take advantage of freedom of movement. They must be resident in France if they wish to take advantage of the more generous provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, which guarantees right to residency, work and life-long health cover.

And if they are resident in France by the end of the year, moving elsewhere in Europe after December 31st won't be as easy because onward freedom of movement comes to an end at the stroke of midnight.

Deadline for EHIC cards 

British students and pensioners who are S1 holders living in the EU can continue to use the EHIC (European Health Insurance Cards) after Brexit when they return to the UK.

But their current cards are only valid until December 31st, 2020 after that date new cards are needed. S1 holders and students living in France are encouraged to apply for a new EHIC card if they are due to travel to the UK in the New Year. More info HERE.

READ ALSO What is the difference moving to France before or after December 31st?


January 1st, 2020

This is the big one, the first day that the UK emerges into the world without any formal ties to the EU (apart from possibly a trade deal, if one is agreed in time).

It marks a lot of changes for tourists and second home owners in France, both for travel and the rules on length of stay.

READ ALSO How will the 90-day rule work in France after Brexit?


January 1st also marks the day when UK passports will no longer be accepted for travel within the EU if they have less than 6 months until their expiry date – so check your passport and renew if necessary. For people who are resident in France, however, not a lot changes on January 1st unless they are planning to travel.

From January 1st 2021

Driving licence exchange

British citizens who have a UK or Northern Ireland issued driving licence can now swap it for a French one.

You cannot apply to make the swap before January 1st (unless you fit certain criteria such as having a lost of stolen licence) but you have until December 31st, 2021 to make the swap.

For full details on how to swap your licence, click HERE.

June 30th, 2021

Residency card application deadline

This is the final deadline for British citizens who were resident in France before December 31st 2020 to have applied for their carte de séjour post-Brexit residency permit.

This deadline is for you to have made the application, not to have received the card – for full details on how to apply – click HERE.

If you apply after this date, your application will be dealt with under the much stricter rules for Third Country Nationals, unless you can make a convincing case of the exceptional circumstances that meant you couldn't apply in time.

October 1st, 2021

Residency cards must be obtained

This is the deadline for all British people who were resident in France before December 31st 2020 to be in possession of the new post-Brexit carte de séjour.

Any British person resident in France after this date who doesn't have a card will be considered undocumented and potentially lose access to health and social care.

October 1st, 2021

Identity cards invalid

This also marks the date when French or other EU national identity cards will no longer be valid to enter the UK.

This doesn't directly affect British people, but if you are travelling to the UK with a French friend or family member, remind them that they will need a passport after this date and not a national ID card.

December 31st, 2021

Driving licence deadline

This is the deadline for British people who were resident in France before December 31st 2020 to have applied to swap their licence for a French one.

After this date, UK or NI licences will not be recognised for residents to drive on (although tourists can still drive on a British licence). If you do not make the swap within the timeframe you will have to take a French driving test to gain a French licence. 

March 2022

Moving home with family

This is the final date when British nationals can move back to the UK with a European partner or spouse without them having to meet tough new criteria on income, skills and English language level.

After this date any EU citizen must meet strict immigration criteria including a minimum income level – and having a British spouse will not affect this.

Have we missed any key Brexit dates? Please email us [email protected]

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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.