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

Can second-home owners in France get a carte de séjour?
Photo by MYCHELE DANIAU / AFP
The French government has announced 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.

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.

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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 – is the residency card that UK nationals who were living in France before December 30th 2020 apply for.

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.

READ ALSO Reader question: Can I be resident in France and the UK?

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.

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.

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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.


Member comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

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