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BREXIT

Confusion surrounds extension of deadline for Brits in France to apply for residency

British and French government spokesmen appear to be at loggerheads on whether the deadline for Brits living in France to apply for post-Brexit residency has been extended.

Confusion surrounds extension of deadline for Brits in France to apply for residency
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

The original deadline to apply for residency – which applies to all UK nationals living in France – was midnight on Wednesday, June 30th.

Last week, after a slew of local préfectures announced an extension to the deadline on their websites, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry told The Local: “I can confirm that the deadline for applications for Withdrawal Agreement cartes de séjour has been extended until September 30th, 2021.

“This extension concerns the whole of France.

“During the extension period, applications for residency can continue to be submitted on the online portal.”

However, one week on the British Embassy in Paris is still adamant that there is no extension, telling UK nationals on Wednesday morning: “The clock is ticking: protect your rights in France by applying for residency in France before the deadline at midnight tonight.”

Meanwhile the French government’s official Brexit page has not been updated recently, and still shows a deadline of June 30th, but dozens of people have reported receiving emails from their local préfectures telling them that the deadline is now September 30th.

The Local, along with citizens’ rights groups such as British in Europe and Remain in France Together (RIFT) are continuing to push for clarity on this situation.

So what should people who have not yet applied do?

In a word – apply.

The application process is simple and can be done online – you can find a full guide to how to apply HERE.

The streamlined process requires a lot less documentation than previous systems and documents can also be requested at a later stage.

Even with the extension there is not a lot of time and it’s a long-acknowledged fact that French bureaucracy slows down over the summer as staff take les grandes vacances

What else can you do?

If you have already applied, please talk to British friends, neighbours and colleagues to ensure they know the requirement to register.

There are an estimated 25,000 Brits living in France who have still not applied and there are a number of persistent rumours floating about that certain groups are not affected by this deadline. In fact, you must apply for residency even if:

  • You have lived in France for a long time
  • You are married or pacsed with a French or other EU national
  • You have previously held a European or other type of carte de séjour
  • You are not British – in certain cases, non-British nationals will also need to apply as family members, if they are currently in France on a visa as the spouse or family member of a British person.
  • You are still in school/education – all over 18s must apply for residency
  • You have a pending application for French or other EU citizenship

The only groups who do not need to apply now are

  • Under 18s
  • Brits who have dual nationality with an EU country (although they may apply if they wish)

READ ALSO What happens to Brits in France who miss the deadline to apply for residency?

Member comments

    1. Ah yes, the negotiating tactic that proved so useful in the exit negotiations.

      Is the Paris Embassy more or less useful than a chocolate teapot? Answers please to E. Llewellyn, 35, rue du Faubourg St Honoré, 75383 Paris, France.

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BRITS IN EUROPE

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.

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