What to do if you have missed France’s Brexit residency deadlines

Since Brexit, there have been big changes for Brits living in France, and the French government has put in place a number of deadlines for paperwork - with those deadlines now passed, what should you do if you missed them?

What to do if you have missed France's Brexit residency deadlines
Photo: Oliver Hoslet/AFP

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement guaranteed that Brits already legally resident in France before the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31st 2020) could stay here.

There was, however, an important caveat – those who were resident had to apply for a new post-Brexit residency card in order to regularise their status.

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – what is it and does it cover me?

This applied to everyone – even people who had previously held a European carte de séjour residency card, people who have been here a long time, and those married to French nationals.

Those who previously had residency rights through a British family member (eg an American on a spouse visa connected to their British spouse) must also apply for the new card.

There were only a very few exceptions;

  • Under 18s (who must apply once they turn 18)
  • Brits who have dual nationality with France or another EU country
  • In certain circumstances, diplomats or posted workers are exempt

The deadline to have applied for the new post-Brexit residency card was September 30th 2021, and the deadline to be in possession of the card was January 1st 2022. Those living in France without the card are considered to be living in France illegally.

But if you’re reading this article with mounting horror and realising that you missed the deadline, what should you do?

It depends on your circumstances;

The online portal set up to deal with post-Brexit residency applications is now closed, but there are two groups who can apply directly to their local préfectures.

Under 18s – a residency card is only required for over 18s. But British children who were living in France before December 31st 2020 are entitled to apply for the post-Brexit residency card as soon as they turn 18.

The application is done directly to their local préfecture and requires only ID documents and proof that they were in France before December 31st 2020, such as a school enrollment card.

Family members – Brits who were living in France before December 31st 2020 have the right to be joined later by close family members, including spouses or partners. 

This application is done directly at the local préfecture and requires proof that the relationship began before December 31st 2020 – this needs to be legal proof so we’re talking things like marriage certificates, rather than holiday snaps. You also need proof that the partner/family member is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and has their post-Brexit residency paperwork.

You can find more detail HERE on paperwork requirements.


If you don’t fall into one of the above categories, you were living in France before December 31st 2020 and you don’t have the new post-Bexit carte de séjour residency card then the likelihood is that you are now an undocumented migrant and could be committing an immigration offence. 

Already applied

If you have applied for your status but don’t have the card, then you need to contact your local préfecture as a matter of urgency. If you have proof that your application was made before the deadline then you won’t be in any legal trouble, but you do need to chase up your application and get the card as soon as possible.

The great majority of the roughly 200,000 applications received have now been processed, but there have been some administrative glitches where people’s applications have been lost or – in the case of people who applied on the no-deal portal that was briefly live in October 2019 – not correctly transferred onto the new system.

The proof of application refers only to those who made the application on the special website that went fully live in 2020. All Brits were required to apply on this, and applications made directly to préfectures pre 2020 are not valid. 

Not applied

It was a legal requirement to have made your application before the deadline date of September 30th 2021.

However, the political rhetoric coming from the French government has – so far – been quite sympathetic to Brits caught up in Brexit upheavals.

But if you are in breach of the requirements then the onus is on you to sort this out, and the sooner you do this the more sympathetic reception you are likely to receive.

The first step is to approach your local préfecture – take all relevant paperwork including proof of residency in France before December 31st 2021 and be ready to explain, with supporting documentation if you have it, why you did not apply in time.

There is a provision in the Withdrawal Agreement for late applications to be made, but it is vague when it comes to accepted reasons for the late application.

The French government states only “you were unable to make your request for legitimate reasons (for example, reasons related to your state of health, force majeure etc”.

Force majeure is also the phrase used in the Withdrawal Agreement, and the key is that it’s a major event that made it impossible for you to apply in time. 

If you are worried that your French is not up to complicated conversations with the préfecture, there are a number of organisations who can help you – see here.

You can find more details of the new requirements in our Dealing with Brexit section.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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.