Brits in France given extension to deadline for post-Brexit residency cards

An extension has been announced to the deadline by which all Brits in France must be in possession of a residency card - although the deadline to have made the application remains Thursday.

Brits in France given extension to deadline for post-Brexit residency cards
Photo: Oliver Hoslet/AFP

The French government on Tuesday published a decree formally extending the deadline for Brits in France to be in possession of a carte de séjour residency card until January 1st 2022.

The deadline to have made your application for the card however remains Thursday, September 30th.

This applied to all Brits who were resident in France before December 31st 2020.

The initial deadlines were June 30th to have made the application and October 1st to have the card. The June 30th deadline was extended until September 30th but the October deadline remained in place, leading to a confusing situation where people could make the application on Thursday but were expected to have the card by Friday.

However a decree has now been published in the Journal officiel extending the deadline to have the card until January 1st 2022.

Figures from the French Interior Ministry from September 20th show that 163,157 Brits had applied since the online portal opened in October 2020 – including 4,581 after the initial application deadline of June 30th.

The ministry added that local préfectures have processed 150,353 applications since October 2020.

These figures tally with an EU report dating from September 6th which revealed that more than 10,000 Brits were still waiting for their applications to be processed.

Citizens’ rights group British in Europe had sounded the alarm about thousands of people being pushed into a precarious situation.

Both British in Europe and Remain in France Together (RIFT) had called on the French government to extend the deadline to allow outstanding applications to be processed.

READ ALSO What should I do if I am still waiting for my carte de séjour?

British Ambassador to France, Menna Rawlings said: “I know this news will be reassuring for British people with a pending application, who are still waiting to receive their Withdrawal Agreement residency card. 

“I urge anyone who has not yet applied for residency to do so as soon as possible, and before the end of the 30 September 2021. 

“The UK continues to fund support organisations for those who need help with their applications so please do get in touch with the International Organization for Migration, the Franco-British Network or the Diocese in Europe residency project if you or someone you know is struggling to apply.” 

Anyone who has not made their application has only until Thursday to do so – find out how HERE.

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‘We will be ready’ vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

Transport bosses have raised fears of long queues in British ports when the EU's new EES system comes into effect next year, but French border officials insist they will be ready to implement the new extra checks.

'We will be ready' vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

The EU’s new EES system comes into effect in 2023 and many people – including the boss of the Port of Dover and the former UK ambassador to France – have raised concerns that the extra checks will lead to travel chaos on the UK-France border, and see a repeat of the long queues experienced last summer.

Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister told The Local that he feared “tailbacks out of the port and throughout Kent” because the new system could take up to 10 minutes to process a car with four passengers, as opposed to 90 seconds currently.

EXPLAINED What the EES system means for travel to France in 2023

But French border control have insisted that they will be ready, replying to questions from the European Commission with “Oui, La France sera prête” (yes, France will be ready).

French officials said they had already undertaken extension preparation and would begin test runs of the new system in French border posts at the end of this year.

document shared recently by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties, shows how countries are preparing. 

“France has prepared very actively and will be on schedule for an EES implementation in compliance with the EU regulation,” French authorities say.

“The French authorities have carried out numerous studies and analyses, in cooperation with infrastructure managers, to map passenger flows at each border crossing post… and evaluate the EES impact on waiting times,” the document says. 

However, despite the preparation, the French admit that long waits at the border remain a worry, adding: “the prospect of the impact of EES on waiting times at the borders worries infrastructure managers. The fact remains that fluidity remains a concern, and that exchanges are continuing with each border post manager to make progress on this point.”

The EES system is due to come into effect in May 2023 and will be applied at all EU external borders – find full details on how it works HERE.

However there has been particular concern about the France-UK border due to three things; the high volume of traffic (in total over 60 million passengers cross the border each year); the fact that many travel by car on ferries and the Eurotunnel (while the EES system seems more designed with foot passengers in mind); and the Le Touquet agreement which means that French border control agents work in the British ports of Dover and Folkestone and at London St Pancras station.

EES is essentially a more thorough passport checking process with passengers required to provide biometric information including fingerprints and facial scans – border checks will therefore take longer per passenger, and this could have a big effect at busy crossing points like Dover.

The UK’s former ambassador to France, Lord Ricketts, told The Local: “I think the EES, in particular, will be massively disruptive at the Channel ports.”

The EU consultation documents also revealed more details of how EES will work on a practical level for car passengers – those travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel to France – with border agents set to use computer tablets to gather biometric information like fingerprints so that passengers don’t have to get out of their cars.

READ ALSO France to use iPads to check biometric data of passengers from UK

Doug Bannister added that Dover agents were “awaiting an invitation” to France to see how the new systems will work.