British teacher rejected by rental agency over post-Brexit residency confusion

With just one month left to apply for residency in France, Brits living here are not yet legally required to show a residency card for official purposes - despite what one agency told a young house-hunter.

British teacher rejected by rental agency over post-Brexit residency confusion
Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Sorbonne teacher Greg Page has been rejected by the government-backed guarantor agency set up to aid people looking for rental agreements – wrongly being told that he needed to supply a carte de séjour as part of his application.

In fact, the Withdrawal Agreement and French domestic legislation states that until October 1st 2021, UK nationals who were already resident in France before December 31st 2020 do not need to supply any proof of residency other than a passport.

Greg, who has lived in France for five years and works at the Sorbonne as a maître de langues (specialist language teacher) after completing his PhD there, has already applied for a carte de séjour and received an acknowledgement of his application.


The Interior Ministry has previously stated that the attestation d’enregistrement will be accepted as an official document, but after the government-backed Visale agency asked for proof of residency he sent in this document, which was rejected.

Visale is intended to simplify the process of securing a guarantor for a rental property lease, particularly for people on short-term contracts or lower incomes.

He said: “I actually successfully applied for the Visale last January to move into my current accommodation in Paris, but I had a change of housemate these last weeks, which is why I redid the application for both of us, without success. 

“I replied to the rejection and attached two open letters from the French government and the British Embassy in Paris making it clear that a carte de séjour is not required until October 30th, but the application was rejected again.

“Fortunately the landlords have been very understanding, and although the actual contract signing is being held up, the money flow is, as of now, unaffected.

“This experience is making me very worried for my upcoming contract renewal, because any problem like the current one risks halting my income, which would prove disastrous.”

During the long and complicated Brexit process, quite a few Brits in France have reported being incorrectly asked for residency cards, or told that they could no longer use documentation like UK driving licences.

We have had reports of incorrect information being given out by benefits agencies, health insurers and even gendarmes.

While these problems can usually be sorted out, it adds extra difficulties to processes that can already be quite stressful.

UK nationals who were resident in France before December 31st 2020 have until September 30th 2021 to apply for residency – find out how HERE – and after October 1st, 2021 can be asked to provide a residency card to show that they are living legally in France.

The Local has created this guide outlining your rights on everything from residency to healthcare to driving, with links to the relevant pieces of legislation to show if necessary.

As someone who has completed higher education in a French university, Greg was entitled to apply for citizenship after two years in France, instead of the standard five.

However although he has applied, his application has not yet been processed, meaning that he needed to apply for residency before the deadline.

Greg said: “I had my naturalisation interview over a year ago, and am still waiting for a response, but hoping once I have the new passport, life will become somewhat easier.”

If you are confused on post-Brexit rules on residency, healthcare, driving or pensions, head to our Dealing with Brexit section.

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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.”