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.

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British PM Boris Johnson’s dad becomes French

The Brexit-supporting father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acquired French citizenship, a French justice ministry source told AFP.

British PM Boris Johnson's dad becomes French

A Conservative who once worked for the European Commission in Brussels, Stanley Johnson opposed Brexit at first but swung behind the EU departure project following 2016’s narrow referendum vote that was championed by his son.

The elder Johnson’s ties to France are through his French mother, and he speaks the language.

The 81-year-old filed his citizenship application at the French consulate in London in November last year, with a six-month deadline for the justice ministry to object elapsing on Wednesday.

“Based on the facts in his application, and without a refusal by the justice minister, Mr Stanley Johnson acquired French nationality on May 18 2022,” the ministry told AFP.

READ ALSO Am I eligible for French citizenship?

“This decision concerns only Mr Stanley Johnson and does not extend to his descendants,” it added.

The most common ways of acquiring French nationality are through residency in the country or marriage to a French citizen.

However it is possible to become French through family connections, although France accepts only a French parent – not a grandparent like Ireland or a great-grandparent like Italy – in these types of application.

READ ALSO How to obtain French citizenship through ancestry

French law normally prevents children of its citizens from claiming nationality if their family has been abroad for more than 50 years without making use of their rights.

But their applications can still be considered if they can prove “concrete ties of a cultural, professional, economic or family nature” with France — a clause Stanley invoked in his application.

“I’ll always be European, that’s for sure,” Stanley Johnson told RTL radio in French in a December 2020 interview.

He had come under fire at home for his plans, announced at the same time most Britons were losing the right to travel freely across the European Union as a post-Brexit “transition period” ended.

“It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather,” Stanley said.

“For me it’s a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that,” he added.

Around 3,100 British people acquired French nationality in 2020, according to the latest figures available from EU statistics agency Eurostat, making France the second most popular choice for acquiring European citizenship, after Germany.

Stanley Johnson has become a public figure in Britain following his son’s political rise, appearing on a celebrity reality TV show in 2017 and appearing regularly in the media.

His ex-wife Charlotte Fawcett — Boris’s mother — told a biographer recently that Stanley had beaten her many times, breaking her nose on one occasion.

Last year two women, a Conservative MP and a journalist, accused him of groping or touching them inappropriately.