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LATEST: How long are Brits in France waiting for their post-Brexit residency cards?

With a little over two months to go until the deadline for Brits in France to apply for post-Brexit residency permits, the processing of applications is speeding up, but many are still waiting.

LATEST: How long are Brits in France waiting for their post-Brexit residency cards?
Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

Six months after applications opened – and with just over two months until the application deadline on June 30th – citizens’ rights group Remain in France Together (RIFT) has conducted a wide-ranging survey on how applications are being handled.

All UK nationals who were living in France before December 31st 2020 have to apply for a new carte de séjour residency card – even if they have lived in France a long time, are married to a French citizen or previously had a carte de séjour.

The deadline for applications is June 30th 2021 and by October 1st 2021 it will be compulsory for Brits living in France to have a carte de séjour.

Find out how to apply HERE.

To enable the estimated 200,000 – 300,000 Brits living in France to do this, the French government set up a special online portal, which went live in October 2020.

But waiting times for applications to be processed can vary between areas.

Here’s what the RIFT survey found:

A total of 5,187 people responded to the anonymous online survey, of whom 94 percent had already applied for residency. Respondents came largely from members of the RIFT Facebook group which provides information and support for Brits around the residency process and their rights, so the percentage of people who had made the application is likely to be higher than among the general British population in France, but does give a substantial sample size and covers all regions of France.

The application is a three-step process – first you fill in the application via the online portal, which is then passed to the préfecture where you live. After processing your application, the préfecture in most cases invites applicants to an appointment where fingerprints are taken, ID checked and a photo submitted. The card is then sent out by registered post.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the appointment at the préfecture is usually a quick and simple process of confirming identification, showing documents and giving fingerprints, with many people impressed with how kind and helpful préfecture staff were.

Of the survey respondents who had applied, 29 percent have already received their residency card.

Overall 54.5 percent had been contacted by their préfecture and had either got the card, got a date for their appointment or had been to the appointment and were awaiting delivery of the card. 45.5 percent were still waiting to hear from the préfecture.

The average waiting time from first application (or from when applications began to be processed in October 2020 for those who had applied via the no-deal site that was briefly live in October 2019) to being contacted by the préfecture was 4.3 months.

Applications seem to be being largely processed in ‘first come, first serve’ order with 31.6 percent of people who made their applications in October still waiting, compared to 76 percent who made their applications last month.

Just 3.2 percent of applicants were asked to provide extra documentation in addition to what they had supplied with their initial application – however members of the RIFT group are likely to be quite clued-up on what is required by the system.

Although all applications are submitted on the same website, they are then sent to the applicant’s local préfecture for processing, and there have been quite wide regional variations on how long people have waited.

Top of the class in processing applications was Dordogne in South West France, where 76 percent of applicants had received their card. However, due to the large British population in the area, the préfecture has been given extra staff to deal with applications. Most préfectures have no extra staffing, so applications are likely to take longer.

In neighbouring Charente, 29 percent have been contacted and 20 percent received their cards.

In Paris, where applications are processed by the Préfecture de Police, 91 percent of applicants have been contacted and 69 percent have received their cards.

In the Paris suburbs, 60 percent had been contacted and 21 percent received their cards in Hauts-de-Seine, 66 percent contacted and 22 percent received cards in Seine-Saint-Denis and 41 percent contacted and 40 percent received their cards in Val-de-Marne

In the Marseille département of Bouches-du-Rhône, 28 percent have been contacted and 18 percent have received their cards. 

In the Nice département of Alpes-Maritime 60 percent have been contacted and 21 percent have received their cards.

In Puy-de-Dôme and Drôme none of the survey respondents had received their cards.

To find the full breakdown of results by département, click HERE. 

RIFT spokeswoman Claire Philips said: “As we’ve said, the window for applications closes on June 30th 2021 and UK passport holders living in France are obliged to hold a Withdrawal Agreement Residence Permit (WA RP) by October 1st, 2021.

“Whilst we know that many people are still collating information or waiting to hear about others’ experiences before submitting the application, we strongly recommend that people submit their application as soon as possible. We hope this report will reassure you that most people are finding the process straightforward.”

For more help and information on the post-Brexit residency process, head to our Dealing with Brexit section, or the RIFT homepage. 

Member comments

  1. 4 months seems about right. I’ve been waiting 3 months since I applied for my cds and at the same time i applied to get my diplomas validated here. The website for that actually mentions a delay of up to four months. I’m positive that at 3 months and 29 days someone will look at it. Problem is they can still say Non! Heavens it’s frustrating to live here.

    1. I have been told, I know this may only be hearsay, that people with holiday homes in the Dordogne, have been issued with carte de sejour, when they are not full time residents, paying their tax en France. Is this correct, if so why?

  2. I applied shortly after the website opened and received confirmation that my application had been received. Since then…nothing in 6 months! I note only 40% of applicants have received their cards so far in Val de Marne, but I am starting to worry. I don’t want to contact them in case that delays further. I’m still waiting on my Carte Vitale (first application January 2020). Is it just me….?!?

    1. You are not alone! We applied the day after the portal opened, got the automatic response and have heard nothing since! We’re in the Vienne. So it’ll be 7 months next week since we applied.

      1. I managed to get an appointment at the Prefecture last Tuesday! It was very quick and I just have to wait for notification that the card is ready for collection. I hope that you hear from your Prefecture soon. Still waiting on the Carte Vitale, though…

  3. Applied 18th November 2020 – Both my wife and I got our 10 year titre de sejour on the 8th April 2021. Alsace/Grand Est region.

  4. Application: the next day after the portal opened (mid-October?)
    Interview: mid-February
    Card in the mail: mid-April

  5. I don’t get this at all. I got my Titre de Sejour after going through the system the manual way and I got mine 6 months ago? It is valid for 5 years cause I am retired. After going through all that for 3 YEARS, I have to do it all AGAIN?

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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.