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Permits and visas: What are the post-Brexit rules for Brits wanting to work in France?

The Local France
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Permits and visas: What are the post-Brexit rules for Brits wanting to work in France?
Business trips to France for Brits now fall under a new set of rules. Photo: AFP

Following Brexit, British nationals coming to France to do any form of paid work may need a visa and/or a work permit. Here's a guide to who needs visas and permits and what type.


Since the British government's decision to end freedom of movement for its citizens, Britons have been plunged into the world of visas and 90-day limits already familiar to other non-EU citizens such as Americans, Canadians and Australians.

Unlike in previous years, anyone now wanting to move to France will need a visa, but for those who are just visiting visas are generally not required as long as your trip is for less than 90 days.

READ ALSO How the 90-day rule works in France since Brexit



However, coming to work in France - even if it's just for a few days or weeks - is not as simple as it once was.

For non-EU citizens intending to do paid work in France there are two things to consider -  work permits and visas. 

Work permits are standard for French companies wishing to employee a non-EU citizen (either on a permanent or short-term basis) and require the company to justify why an EU citizen cannot do the job. Not all types of work require a work permit. It is up to the employer to apply for the work permit.

Visas are applied for by the employee, they vary depending on the type of work and the length of stay, but they all need to be applied for in advance of the trip from your home country. Some visas require an employment contract or proof of work.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: How to apply for a French visa




The first thing to determine is how long you will be working in France. Any stay for more than 90 days requires a visa, but in good news, France has a visa waiver for UK nationals who are working for less than 90 days.

The 90-day limit applies to the whole of the Schengen zone. For people working on short contracts this will be easy to keep track of, but business travellers doing frequent trips to Europe need to keep a close eye on how long they spend in order to ensure that their total number of days within the Schengen zone does not exceed 90 in every 180. When totting up the days, holidays within the Schengen zone count as well as business trips.

Work permit

Most types of work in France will require a work permit.

There are some exceptions here, however, and they are:

  • work at a sporting, cultural or scientific event
  • work at a seminar or trade show
  • the production and broadcast of cinematographic and audiovisual works (such as musicians putting on concerts)
  • modelling
  • personal service workers and domestic workers working in France during their private employers’ stay in the country.
  • providing an audit or expertise in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture and engineering, under the terms of a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement.
  • occasional teaching activities by invited lecturers

Here how it works:

Posted workers and contractors

If you are an employee and your company asks you to complete a one-off mission in France, or you are sub-contracted to work in France, the company must obtain a work permit for you.

People who won't need a work permit are those providing an audit or expertise in the fields of IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture or engineering, or teaching as a salaried guest teacher. This doesn't cover everybody working in those sectors - you need to demonstrate that you are providing some form of expertise. 

If your work period is for less than 90 days, you will not need a visa.

Short-term work 

If you are doing any work in France, either for a French or non-French company, on a short term contract you employer will need to obtain a work permit, unless you fall into one of the exempt categories listed above.

As with posted workers and contractors, you will only need a visa if you will be working for more than 90 days.

Business trips/conferences

Travel for a seminar or trade show is one of the categories that is exempt from work permit requirements.

You will not need a visa if you are spending less than 90 days working, but business travellers who make frequent trips need to be careful to ensure that, in total, they are not spending more than 90 days out of every 180 within the Schengen zone. Holidays also count towards this total.

Musicians, artists and athletes

Sporting, cultural of scientific events and production of cinematic or audiovisual works are exempt from work permit requirements.

If you are spending less than 90 days you will not need a visa.

Like business travellers, musicians or artists who travel a lot for work need to be careful that they aren't exceeding the 90-day total in the Schengen zone. They also need to be aware that the requirements for all countries within the EU are now different, so a pan-European tour will involve checking every country's requirements.

Seasonal workers

Seasonal work such as grape-picking or working the ski season is popular with young people and France has a travailleur saisonnier (seasonal worker) visa specifically for this purpose, which allows six months work in every 12 - and is therefore a good option for people wanting to do more than 90 days at a time.

However this visa is linked to work so you will need to have a job offer before getting the visa, instead of turning up and then finding work. You can have more than one employer, but each employer must apply for a work permit.


Spending time working as an au pair is a popular option for young people as you can combine learning/perfecting French with paid work. 

Many non-EU citizens such as Americans use this route to come to France and there is a specific au pair visa, as most people come for more than 90 days.

READ ALSO How to become an au pair in France (and the things you should know in advance)





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