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SECOND HOMES

Brexit: What has changed for British second-home owners in France?

Brexit has ushered in a host of new restrictions for Brits visiting France, and keeping up with them all can be hard. Here's our guide to everything that British second-home owners need to know about the new reality.

Brexit: What has changed for British second-home owners in France?
Visits to France are now a little more complicated for second-home owners. Photo: Clement Mahoudeau/AFP

Its convenient location, good transport links, comparatively cheap property market – not to mention the stunning countryside and great food and wine – have long made France a popular destination for Brits looking to buy a second home.

Many thousands of people have invested in French property and travel regularly to spend time in their home-away-from-home.

But following the end of the Brexit transition period there are new rules that second-home owners need to be aware of.

90-day rule

This is probably the one that has the biggest impact – since Brits are no longer citizens of the EU they are restricted to spending only 90 days (three months) out of every 180 within the EU or Schengen zone.

You can find a full breakdown of how the rule works HERE.

In recent weeks it has become clear that French border police are strictly enforcing the limit, and several Brits have been stopped at the border and fined for overstaying their limit.

Visas

The 90-day rule means that second-home owners can spend up to 180 days in France over the course of a year, but not all at once, since the maximum stay limit is 90 days.

This means that spending the summer in France and the winter in the UK, or vice versa, is no longer possible and this is likely to affect second-home owners more than other visitors.

Those who want to spend more than 90 days at a time here, need to get a visa.

You can find a full breakdown of the French visa system HERE, and a guide to the visitor visa – the visa type suitable for people who want to pay longer visits and are not working – HERE.

Travel paperwork

Travelling to France also has some extra post-Brexit complications.

Your British passport is of course still valid, but needs to have at least three months left until its expiry date and if you have decided to get a visa you will also need to show this on arrival.

Non-EU arrivals can be asked at the border to provide extra information such as proof of accommodation while in France, proof of means during the stay and proof of medical cover.

READ ALSO Travel to France: What has changed since Brexit

Pets

It’s not only people who have extra travel hassles, if you regularly bring your dogs, cats or ferrets with you to your French property, remember that they can no longer travel on EU Pet Passports.

Instead UK resident pets need a new Animal Health Certificate for each journey. UK vets charge an average of around £100 per certificate, so if you make multiple journeys in a year and have several pets, prepare for a hefty annual vet’s bill. 

Food

You’ve probably already heard of the ‘ham sandwich rule’ but in fact there are a lot of food items that can no longer be brought from the UK to France, including animal products such as meat or cheese, or fruit and veg and even flowers or plants for the garden are covered by this ruling.

Full details of what is and is not allowed HERE.

Furniture/DIY items

While some items are banned altogether, there is also a value limit on the items you can bring with you from the UK.

Second-home owners involved in renovation projects frequently bring over items of furniture, DIY tools or fixtures and fittings, which tend to be cheaper in the UK, for their French home.

However you need to be careful that these don’t exceed the value limit otherwise you will have to pay duty on them.

Full details on the rule HERE.

Having friends to stay

If you have invited friends and family to visit your French property, they may be asked for an attestation d’acceuil in addition to the normal travel paperwork – here what that means.

Residency

While some people keep their second-home as a holiday property, others might have a long-term plan to retire to France and live in it full time.

This is of course still possible, but it’s more complicated since Brexit since you will require a resident’s visa when you intend to make the move.

There’s a popular misconception that owning property in France makes getting a visa easier, but that is in fact not the case, you still need to apply through the normal channels – find out more HERE

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BREXIT

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Brexit hasn't just brought about changes in passport rules for humans, pets are also affected and now the French government has laid out the rules for pet passports for British second-home owners.

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Pre-Brexit, people travelling between France and the UK could obtain an EU Pet Passport for their car, dog or ferret which ensured a hassle-free transport experience.

But since the UK left the EU things have become more complicated – and a lot more expensive – for UK residents wanting to travel to France with pets.

You can find a full breakdown of the new rules HERE, but the main difference for people living in the UK is that that they now need an Animal Health Certificate for travel.

Unlike the Pet Passport, a new ACH is required for each trip and vets charge around £100 (€118) for the certificate. So for people making multiple trips a year, especially those who have more than one pet, the charges can quickly mount up.

UK nationals who live in France can still benefit from the EU Pet Passport, but until now the situation for second-home owners has been a little unclear.

However the French Agriculture ministry has now published updated information on its website.

The rules state: “The veterinarian can only issue a French passport to an animal holding a UK/EU passport issued before January 1st, 2021, after verifying that the animal’s identification number has been registered in the Fichier national d’identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD).”

I-CAD is the national database that all residents of France must register their pets in – find full details HERE.

The ministry’s advice continues: “If not registered, the veterinarian may proceed to register the animal in I-CAD, if the animal’s stay in France is longer than 3 consecutive months, in accordance with Article 22 of the AM of August 1st, 2012 on the identification of domestic carnivores.”

So if you are staying in France for longer than 90 days (which usually requires a visa for humans) your pet can be registered and get a Pet Passport, but those staying less than three months at a time will have to continue to use the AHC.

The confusion had arisen for second-home owners because previously some vets had been happy to issue the Passport using proof of a French address, such as utility bills. The Ministry’s ruling, however, makes it clear that this is not allowed.

So here’s a full breakdown of the rules;

Living in France

If you are living in France full time your pet is entitled to an EU Pet Passport regardless of your nationality (which means your pet has more travel rights than you do. Although they probably still rely on you to drive the car/book the ferry tickets).

Your cat, dog or ferret must be fully up to date with their vaccinations and must be registered in the national pet database I-CAD (full details here).

Once issued, the EU Pet Passport is valid for the length of the animal’s life, although you must be sure to keep up with their rabies vaccinations. Vets in France usually charge between €50-€100 for a consultation and completing the Passport paperwork.

Living in the UK

If you are living in the UK and travelling to France (or the rest of the EU) you will need an Animal Health Certificate for your cat, dog or ferret.

The vaccination requirements are the same as for the EU Pet Passport, but an ACH is valid for only 10 days after issue for entry to the EU (and then for four months for onward travel within the EU).

So if you’re making multiple trips in a year you will need a new certificate each time.

UK vets charge around £100 (€118) for a certificate, although prices vary between practices. Veterinary associations in the UK are also warning of delays in issuing certificates as many people begin travelling again after the pandemic (often with new pets bought during lockdown), so you will need to book in advance. 

Second-home owners

Although previously some French vets had been happy to issue certificates with only proof of an address in France, the French government has now clarified the rules on this, requiring that pets be registered within the French domestic registry in order to get an EU Pet Passport.

This can only be done if the pet is staying in France for more than three months. The three months must be consecutive, not over the course of a year.

UK pets’ owners will normally require a visa if they want to stay in France for more than three months at a time (unless they have dual nationality with an EU country) – find full details on the rules for people HERE.

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