Brits in France given extra three months to apply for post-Brexit residency

The website that allows Brits in France to apply for post-Brexit residency cards will remain open for an extra three months after high levels of demand, the French government has confirmed.

Brits in France given extra three months to apply for post-Brexit residency
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

There has been great confusion in recent days over whether Brits living in France had been given an extension to the original deadline to apply for residency, which fell on Wednesday, June 30th.

The French Interior Ministry confirmed to The Local an extension until September 30th the previous week and numerous local préfectures either advertised a delay on their websites or advised people of a delay in emails and texts.

However the British Embassy in Paris continued to insist that the June 30th deadline was still in place, even running an hour-by-hour countdown to the midnight deadline on their social media channels.

On Thursday, however, the online portal for applications from UK nationals was still accepting applications and the French Interior Ministry has updated its site to clarify that the site will remain open and continue to accept applications until September 30th.

The site reads: “British nationals and their family members, regardless of nationality, had until July 1st, 2021 to apply online for the issuance of a residence permit marked ‘United Kingdom Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union’. 

“However, this website will remain open until September 30th, 2021 to allow the registration of applications that could not be registered within the deadline.”

It was not immediately clear whether applications on the portal made now will count as ‘late applications’.

The Local has asked for clarification on this, but in the meantime citizens’ rights group British in Europe advises adding a note on your application explaining why you missed the June 30th deadline.

The online application form has a box at the end for ‘any other comments’ where this can be added. Even if you are using the English-language version of the form, it is better to add comments such as this in French, if possible.

You can find a full guide to using the form HERE.

The extra time comes amid concerns that many thousands of Brits in France are yet to apply, with many not realising that it applies to them.

The requirement to apply for residency applies to all UK nationals who were living in France before December 30th, 2020 – even those who have been here a long time, are married to a French or EU citizen or who previously had a residency card.

Find the full requirements and how to apply HERE.

Meanwhile some local authorities have reported being swamped with applications.

Renaud Nury, secrétaire général of the préfecture in the Creuse département told France Info: “We anticipated 800 applications but we have received 2,500 already” adding that a special office had been set up at the préfecture to deal with applications from Brits.

The deadline to be in possession of the carte de séjour was previously set for October 1st – to give time for applications to be processed. The Local has asked if this deadline will also be moved.

If you are struggling with the paperwork, head to our Dealing with Brexit section, or find a list HERE of organisations who will offer help with the process, free of charge. 

Member comments

  1. 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.

  2. As soon as applications opened to renew the carte de sejour, I applied, sent my previous one which expired in 2008, heard nothing for about three months the got RDV with the local Commissariat de Police , received new card two weeks later. I was lucky when the previous one expired I went to the Commissariat who advised me to keep the card and use it as an ID card, which I did.

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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.”