Who are the Brits in France who have not yet applied for post-Brexit residency?

From fear of rejection to a simple misunderstanding, a new survey has revealed the different reasons why a number of British nationals living in France have not yet applied for post-Brexit residency, even as the deadline looms.

Who are the Brits in France who have not yet applied for post-Brexit residency?
British nationals living in France have until June 30th 2021 to apply for post-Brexit residency. Photo: THOMAS COEX / AFP
British nationals living in France are facing a big deadline to apply for post-Brexit residency at 11:59 pm on June 30th 2021. Those who fail to apply risk losing local healthcare, employment and other rights when the new permit becomes compulsory from October 1st 2021. 
France has the highest number of British nationals vulnerable to a loss of rights.
According to the British Embassy, recent figures suggested some 135,000 out of 148,3000 Brits have applied for post-Brexit residency, leaving 13,300 at risk. Information about the application process can be found HERE.
A new joint survey by RIFT (Remain in France Together), a group supporting the rights of British people living and working in France, and the British embassy revealed the different reasons why people have not yet applied.
Firstly, there are those who are nervous about being rejected. One of the issues is that the conditions for legal residency in France is that the person has sufficient resources.
This has caused a certain amount of consternation among those living on meagre resources in France, but there is no evidence (yet) to suggest Brits are being turned down because of a lack of incomings.
The Local understands that out of the tens of thousands who have applied there have only been handful of refusals and they were mainly down to serious criminality on part of the applicant. However no official statistics have been released.
However, failing to apply on time could create more problems, as you will need “reasonable grounds” for having missing the deadline. Those of have applied for residency and been turned down have the right to appeal the decision – full details HERE.
There are others who simply still don’t know they need to apply.

Rights groups in France and the British Embassy have long been concerned about those Brits living off the radar in the country, who still might not be aware of the bureaucratic hoops they now need to jump through thanks to Brexit.

Even to this day The Local receives emails from people unsure whether they need to apply.

There has been a desperate communication drive by the British embassy, resident groups and campaigners to get the word out. However, campaigners say not enough has been done to raise awareness. More information can be found HERE.
All British nationals who were resident in France before December 31st, 2020 are required to apply for the residency permit known as a carte de séjour – even people who have been here a long time, who are married to a French person or who previously had a residency card.

It also applies to people who already hold a European carte de séjour, are in the process of applying for a French nationality, or are married or PACSed to French or other EU nationals.

The only group who don’t have to apply are Brits who have already obtained dual nationality with an EU country, although they may apply if they wish. Children under 18 do not need to apply.

Other respondents said they haven’t applied because they didn’t know how to apply or they need help with the application process. You can get help HERE.
There were also Britons living in France who are simply leaving it until the last minute, but do intend to apply before the deadline on June 30th.
Finally, a large part of respondents are relying on their dual nationality (UK/EU member state), and therefore do not need to apply, though they can if they wish.
According to British in Europe, an organisation campaigning for the rights of UK citizens in the EU, there are five key groups of British nationals in France that are at risk of falling through the cracks:
– Those who know what they need to do but haven’t got round to sorting out their paperwork to apply yet.
– The elderly or vulnerable who are being cared for, and who have very little access to internet and social media.
– Younger adults who have grown up in France and are fully integrated in French families who believe their EU spouse/kids mean they do not nee to apply.
– People who have lived here for decades, often in French families and who may have residency permits – some of whom don’t identify as British.
– Third country national family members who rely on a UK national for residency rights.

Member comments

  1. I have concerns for people who have made applications, received attestation and await contact from préfecture. I know 3 people who chased up and were told there was no dossier. They had to apply a second time. Two other people were told that they had not replied to an email. They had not received the email and are technology competent. So 5 errors out of 12 people that I know have applied.

  2. According to some at the Anthony prefecture some Brits are arrogant thinking the can stay whatever happens.

  3. I know exactly zero people out of dozens who applied in good time who haven’t got their cards yet.
    Funny how these things work…..

  4. You state that those in the process of applying for French nationality need to apply for the carte de séjour. What if you have a dossier/référence number for your application for nationality and the application is quite far along and you are just awaiting the call for the interview?

    1. Hi, If you are not a French citizen by September 30th (and the application process for citizenship on average takes 18 months to 2 years) you will need a carte de séjour. A dossier or reference number for a citizenship application is not proof of your right to residency

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Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”