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Your questions answered: Second-home owners and French cartes de séjour

The Local France
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Your questions answered: Second-home owners and French cartes de séjour

The question of the carte de séjour residency card for second-home owners in France is becoming an increasingly complicated one - particularly for Brits. We answer your question on eligibility, tax implications and how to hand the card back.


The carte de séjour is the French residency card - there are, however, several different types of carte de séjour and not all of them are suitable for second-home owners.

Can second-home owners get a carte de séjour?

In certain circumstances it is possible, but there are very specific criteria that you need to fulfil. There is a card known as the carte de séjour visiteur which is specifically designed with frequent visitors to France in mind.

However, you need to have already had a visitor visa before you can apply for the card, and you need to be able to meet other criteria such as financial requirements - full details on how to get the card HERE.


Why would second-home owners want a carte de séjour?

Second-home owners want to keep their residency in another country, but spend long periods at their property in France - maybe spending the entire summer here or going to an Alpine property for the ski season.

If you're not an EU citizen then you are constrained by the 90-day rule - which limits time spent in the Schengen zone to 90 days in every 180 - find a full explanation HERE.

For many people this is enough, but if you want to exceed 90 days you will need either a visa or the carte de séjour as outlined above.

Does a carte de séjour affect my tax status? 

If you have your main residency in another country and just enjoy visiting France, you're likely to want to keep your tax residency in your home country. 

Tax residency is different to being 'resident' for immigration purposes, and you can automatically become a tax resident of a country if you spend a certain amount of time there - usually more than six months per year, although it varies from country to country.

Having a carte de séjour visiteur does not affect your tax status - because the card specifically says that you are a visitor - but repeated long stays in France could, depending on the rules of your home country.

Find more about tax residency HERE.

What about the post-Brexit carte de séjour for Brits?

If you're British and own property in France you have likely heard people talk about the special post-Brexit carte de séjour - in English it's called the WARP (Withdrawal Agreement Residency Permit) while the French refer to it as an Article 50 TUE carte de séjour (Article 50 referring to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement).

It is intended for Brits who were already resident in France before December 31st 2020 (ie the end of the Brexit transition period), anyone who moved to France after this date will need a visa.


This type of carte de séjour is a residency card and is only for full-time residents - second-home owners are not eligible for them.

But I'm a second-home owners and I have a post-Brexit carte de séjour?

This is not an uncommon scenario, as in the confusion around the Brexit paperwork some second-home owners were badly advised, or misunderstood the system, and ended up applying for a carte de séjour.

The French administration tried to make the process as simple as possible for Brits (in order to protect vulnerable long-term residents such as the elderly and those on low incomes) but that did mean that some people who had paperwork such as utility bills were able to get the post-Brexit carte de séjour.

Is this a problem?

Yes, we're already seeing this causing problems for people, and it's likely that there are more to come.

The basic issue is that the post-Brexit carte de séjour is a residency card, so by applying for it you have told the French authorities that France is your main residence. Residency means that you are no longer constrained by the 90-day rule, but it comes with responsibilities including filing the annual French tax declaration.

If you are in French records as a resident, but you don't file the compulsory annual tax declaration you are liable to fines and penalty charges from the tax office - some people have already begun to receive warning letters.


Likewise, if you are a resident and have a UK-registered car you are obliged to change its registration to French. There is no such obligation for visitors, of course, but we have received several reports of second-home owners showing their carte de séjour at the border and then being fined for not having changed their car registration.

More problems are likely to become apparent as time goes on, especially around access to healthcare if you have an accident or fall sick while you are in France. 

What should I do?

As we said, we're hearing a growing number of reports of second-home owners with the post-Brexit carte de séjour - some mistakenly believe that they have found 'a loophole' in the French system, while others received bad advice or simply misunderstood the system.

We asked the experts at the Franco-British Network what people should do if they find themselves in this situation.

FBN public relations manager Sasha Smit-Marcardier told us: "People in this situation should take professional advice, but in general the best thing to do is simply admit to having made a mistake and hand the card back.

"However, it's important to get the process right - you need to address the request to your local préfecture, the one that granted you the card.

"You need to write a formal letter - in French - outlining that you have the card but are not eligible for it, that you made a mistake and now you wish to hand the card back.

"You should send the letter by recorded delivery mail."

Anyone who has already encountered administrative problems such as demands from the French tax authorities is advised to seek legal advice.   

You can find more on the Franco-British Network and its work HERE.



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