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SECOND HOMES

Can second-home owners in France get a carte de séjour?

The French government has put in place a new online process for regular visitors in France to get a carte de séjour - here's who is eligible for this and how to apply.

Can second-home owners in France get a carte de séjour?
Photo by MYCHELE DANIAU / AFP

As part of the French government’s ongoing process of moving more official processes online, a visitor’s card can now be applied for via an online portal.

Who is it for?

The carte de séjour “visiteur” is a temporary residence permit for non-EU visitors who wish to spend more than three months in France without working.

Citizens of many non-EU countries, including Americans, Australians and, since January 2021, Brits, are allowed to spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU without applying for a visa or residency. However, if you plan to stay for longer, you will need to apply for a visa or residency card.

The card lasts for one year, and can be renewed.

The carte de séjour “visiteur” is particularly useful for second-home owners who may want to spend more than three months in France at a time.

The government’s website also lists parents with dependent children living in France, those who are Pacsed but have been living with their partner for less than a year, and members of the clergy practicing in France as groups who could be eligible.

IMPORTANT

It must be pointed out that this is not the same as the post-Brexit carte de séjour for Brits living in France.

The carte de séjour article 50 TUE / article 18 accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l’UE – sometimes known in English as the WARP (Withdrawal Agreement residency permit) – is the residency card for UK nationals who were living in France before December 30th 2020.

This card, applied for at a different online portal, is reserved for people who were living in France by that date.

It cannot be used by second-home owners who wish to keep their main residency in the UK and there are increasing reports of problems for British second-home owners who have obtained the post-Brexit carte de séjour.

READ ALSO Tax warning for second-home owners with Brexit carte de séjour

The carte de séjour visiteur is different and requires extra documents (see below).

What are the conditions?

Visa – In order to apply for a carte de séjour visiteur for the first time, you need to already have a visa. This should be a “visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour (VL-TS) mention visiteur” (long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit for visitors).

You cannot apply directly for the carte de séjour visiteur, first you apply for the visa and then, when your visa is within two months of its expiry date, you apply for the carte de séjour.

Finances – You must also prove that you have sufficient financial resources to cover the entirety of your stay. This equates to the French minimum wage (€1,231 net per month) over a twelve-month period.

READ ALSO Brexit: How second-home owners can properly plan for their 90-day limit in France

You can prove this using your own resources, such as a pension, private income or real estate income, or those of a member of your family. Another option is to provide a bank statement showing you have enough money to last a year (a minimum of €14,767, set to rise to €15,098 on October 1st, 2021).

“In practice, we often advise our clients to refer to the gross (pre-tax) annual minimum wage, to avoid any further questions or requests from authorities concerning their resources,” Ariadni Chatziantoniou, Immigration Consultant at the French office of Fragomen immigration lawyers, told The Local.

This is equivalent to €19,074 from October.

If providing a bank statement, the money only needs to be in your account at the time of the residence card application – you do not have to prove the funds across several months, according to Chatziantoniou. However, the bank statement should be “less than three months old on the day of the application”.

Alternatively, you may use a guarantee from a solvent person who will need to provide the same proof. 

“We have only ever resorted to guarantees from solvent people with French nationality who had a family or emotional connection with the applicant,” Chatziantoniou said. “These conditions are not specified in the texts, but in practice it seems that they facilitate the taking into account of third-party guarantees.

However, he added that the guarantee should ideally be in addition to the applicant’s own proof of resources, since authorities look at all elements of an application and are given a lot of power to judge each case individually. “We advise our clients to bring proof of their own resources where possible.”

Your housing situation will also be taken into consideration when evaluating your resources (whether you are a homeowner in France, renting, or able to have free accommodation).

No work – this option is for people who do not intend to work while they are in France, so you will need to provide a written declaration that you will not be working during your time in France. It is therefore not suitable for people who want to operate a business such as a gîte or B&B from their French property, or wish to work remotely while in France.

Dossier – you will also need an extensive dossier of documents (full list below) and be aware that if you do not supply all the papers asked for, your application is likely to be rejected.

How can I apply?

Although the permit needs to be renewed every year, the process is completely online; you only need to go to the préfecture to collect your card. This means it can be a lot easier than renewing a visa, which requires you to apply from your home country each time with an in-person visit.

You can find the online portal HERE.

If you do not already have an account, you will need to create one using the details which appear on your current visa.

How much does it cost?

The whole process costs €225 which is paid via timbres fiscaux (revenue stamps): €200 in taxes and €25 in droit de timbre (stamp duty).

What documents do I need?

You will be asked to upload the following:

  • A valid long-stay visa or residency card (unless you have a “résident de longue durée – UE” card issued by another EU member state
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport (the pages with your personal information, start and expiry date, stamps and visas), or another document such as an ID card or consulate card
  • Proof of address less than 6 months old
  • 3 photos (can be uploaded using the e-photo code printed by official photo booths)
  • A medical certificate issued by the French Office for Immigration and Integration (Ofii), which you must show when you come to collect your card. Other medical certificates will not be accepted. The Ofii medical exam is free
  • Proof of €14,767 in annual resources (either as a lump sum or income) – or €15,098 from October 1st 2021
  • If you are in the care of a third person, you will need to provide documents showing this person has sufficient resources (eg a tax assessment, pay slips)
  • A hand-written attestation sur l’honneur (sworn declaration) that you will not work while in France
  • Proof of health insurance covering the entirety of your stay
  • Proof that you have paid tax and stamp duty on the card (you will need to present this when you collect your card)

How can I renew my card?

In order to renew a visitor permit, you will need to go through the same process and provide the same documents as listed above.

This means that if your financial proof is in the form of savings in the bank, you will need to show you have at least €15,098 each time you apply for a new card.

READ ALSO Eight online services which make dealing with French bureaucracy easier

You cannot apply for a renewal until your current card is two months away from expiring.

What if I don’t have internet access or don’t feel confident using the online system?

Contacted by The Local, the Interior Ministry recommended that all requests be done online, but said in theory it should still be possible to apply directly to your local préfecture. However, this will depend on the préfecture, as it may be more difficult to get an appointment now the process has moved online.

The best option if you do not have internet access is to go to the préfecture and ask for help with the online application.

You can find full details of the permit here.

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Member comments

  1. This article contains several significant errors. But, the most egregious error is about the Carte de Séjour. This is a French residence permit, not a visa. A Carte de Séjour is not for someone who wishes to visit France frequently, or for long periods. It is for someone who wishes to move to France and make France their home. Securing a Carte de Séjour also has significant implications. one of which is the obligation to file income taxes annually in France stating your world-wide income. (What is actually owed will vary depending on many factors including applicable tax treaties.)

    Also, the VLS-TS is not just a visa. In French it means Visa de long séjour-valant Titre de Séjour .(Titre de Séjour is the generic French term for a residence permit.) The VLS-TS is a sticker pasted into your passport that acts as a visa to enter France and then, once validated in France within 3 months of arrival, becomes a residence permit. Upon renewal at the end of the first year you will be issued a physical card (Carte de Séjour) that will replace the VLS-TS.

    For someone who just wishes to visit France and not become a resident, they would need a VLS-T. This is just a visa. It allows the holder to enter France and stay for a specific period, usually between 90 days and 6 months. When the VLS-T expires you must leave FRancer. The VLS-T cannot be converted or extended, however, you can re-apply for another VLS-T in your country of residence.

    1. We want to move to our 2nd home permanently in 2022. what type of health insurance do you need to get a VLS-TS? we have been told that Schengen travel insurance would be suitable – do you know if this is so ? thank you in advance for any help
      Helen

      1. For the VLS-TS visitor, you will need a full comprehensive health insurance policy (Pharmacy, office and clinical visits, surgery, hospitalisation, etc.). Travel insurance or EHIC/GHIC is not acceptable.

          1. Not in particular. Some people report APRIL was Ok, others have used CIGNA. If you are planning on moving to France permanently, and joining the French system, you might want a plan that can be cancelled or converted to a French mutuelle (top-up) policy. Note that joining l’Assurance Maladie usually takes 7 months (3 months wait to apply after arrival and then 4 months processing) and can take much longer. You will need private cover until your enrolment is complete.

  2. This needs to be clarified. You can get, for one year, a multiple entry visa Type D with remark “LONG SEJ. TEMP. DISPENSE C.SEJ which comes with a note that it does not need to be validated with OFii.
    Can you, before it expires, apply for a Carte Sejour Visiteur, as opposed to a Carte Sejour for permanent residency? If you do will you then need to register with OFii? Will it require language tests?

  3. There is mention of a €225 fee for this temporary residency permit. Is this a one off fee. If not it appears quite a premium each year compared to the visitor visa of c €80

  4. I find this quite interesting. I know of at least six holiday home owners who have applied for and received a full 10 year carte de séjour. They were not asked for and do not have tax returns and showed only minimum documentation ie. proof that they owned a house in France and that they use it regularly (some actually come for 8months a year). They have travel insurance from the U.K. and the UK is their main residence. All of those of us who have lived here more than 5 years spent ages getting together huge great portfolios of papers and proof that we actually live here. All those people who arrived last year with the intention of settling here have been given only temporary cartes until they reach the required 5 years full residency. I don’t know whether there has been a change in the law but reading this article it would make me think that these second home owners should have received one of these cartes rather than full residency.

  5. Why is there so much confusion about this? We have the long stay visa and would love to not have to go through the rigmarole of reapplying every year. Has anyone any direct experience of getting a carte de séjour visiteur? We are still within three months of arrival for the next two weeks…

  6. I would also like to know if renewal is free or not. There is no mention of a price. If it’s another €225 there is not much advantage over a long stay visa.

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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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