Brits in France For Members

Visa exemption for British second-home owners scrapped by France's constitutional council

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
Visa exemption for British second-home owners scrapped by France's constitutional council
The village of Ansouis classified as one of the Most beautiful Villages in France. (Photo by BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP)

France's constitutional council - the highest authority on constitutional matters - announced on Thursday that it has rejected a proposal to lift post-Brexit visa requirements for British second-home owners.


France's highest constitutional authority on Thursday rejected more than a third of articles in the highly controversial immigration bill - including the idea of a visa exemption for UK nationals who own property in France.

Other parts of the bill, including toughening access to social benefits and family reunification, as well as the introduction of immigration quotas set by parliament, were also scrapped.

The second-home amendment was a late addition to a bill that was originally intended to deal with undocumented workers and other immigration rules.

Its wording was vague, but it intended to remove the post-Brexit visa requirements for Brits who want to spend more than 90 days in every 180 at their French property - essential restoring the pre-Brexit rules.

However, it was rejected on procedure grounds. 

Why was the second-homes amendment rejected?

The nine members of the council, who are known as les sages (the wise ones), threw out the measure on procedural grounds, as the amendment related to second-homes did not bear enough resemblance to the original wording of the bill.

The sages referenced Article 45 of France's constitution in their explanation. This rationale focuses on "legislative riders" or articles that have "nothing to do with the purpose of the law", as explained by French constitution expert, Thibaud Mulier, to Franceinfo earlier in January.

Basically, it means that amendments to the bill have to comply with the original reasons French President Emmanuel Macron laid out to the Constitutional Council, which included "controlling immigration and improving integration".

The sages explained their decision regarding the segment of the immigration bill referencing British second-home owners as 'Article 16', by stating that the provisions related to conditions of stay in France for certain British nationals have "no link, even indirect, with those mentioned above in articles 1, 3, 6 and 7 of the initial bill.


"They also do not present a link, even indirect, with any other of the provisions which appeared in the bill submitted to the Senate desk.

"Consequently, without the Constitutional Council prejudging the compliance of the content of these provisions with other constitutional requirements, it must be held that, having been adopted in accordance with a procedure that is contrary to the Constitution, they are therefore contrary to the Constitution."

What did the amendment say?

The text said: "Long-stay visas are issued automatically to British nationals who own a second home in France. They are therefore exempt from having to apply for a long-stay visa."

It added, however, "The conditions for the application of this article shall be specified by decree in the Conseil d'Etat".

What does this mean for British second-home owners now?

There was a significant amount of speculation prior to the ruling from the constitutional council that this segment would be scrapped anyway.

Experts had theorised it would be thrown out on either grounds of equality or due to being a 'legislative rider'.

This means that the current procedures for stays in France remain in place for British second-home owners.


They currently have two choices; limit their visits to 90 days in every 180 or apply for a short-stay visitor visa.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED How does the 90-day rule work?

The visa allows unlimited stays for the duration of the visa (although people need to be aware that their tax status can change if they are out of their home country for a significant period of the year) but only lasts six months per year, so second-home owners need to reapply every year.


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