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What does France's new immigration law mean for second-home owners?

The Local France
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What does France's new immigration law mean for second-home owners?

France's controversial immigration law has now cleared its final legal hurdle - so what will the new law mean for second-home owners?


With Thursday's decision from the Constitutional Council, France's controversial immigration bill is now set to become law.

Most media coverage has focused on eye-catching things that affect foreigners living in France, such as possible restrictions to benefits and citizenship - but what is the situation for those who own property here? 

Nothing has exemplified the confusion around this ever-changing bill better than the single clause about second-home owners. The bill began with no mention of second-home owners, but at various times there had been proposals to create a special visa for all second-home owners and a visa exemption that applied only to British second-home owners - and at various points both ideas were cancelled.

Here's how we have ended up now that the game of legislative musical chairs is over.

British second-home owners

The final version of the bill contained a clause that promised a visa exemption to British second-home owners - and only British ones.

The clause was vague in its wording, but promised an "exemption to visa rules" to UK nationals who own property in France - essentially a return to the pre-Brexit days when British second-home owners could come and go without having to worry about the 90-day rule.

No detail was provided on how the exemption would work in practice, or what proof would be accepted at the border. 

The Constitutional Council on Thursday rejected this clause, so it will not appear in the final bill.

There is no right of appeal against council decisions.


However, in a small ray of hope it is possible that a new piece of legislation could be proposed on this - the Council rejected the clause on procedure grounds, not because if its content. They ruled that the second-homes clause bore no relation to the original intention of the bill (which focused on cutting clandestine migration) and therefore could not be added as an amendment.

For the moment, however, the idea is dead in the water and the current rules will continue to apply.

Other second-home owners

For other second-home owners - nothing changes.

The final version of the bill was explicit that changes would only affect UK nationals who own property in France. The reason for this was Brexit-related - many Brits bought property in France prior to 2016 and were free to spend as much time there as they liked. Since Brexit, they have found themselves constrained by the 90-day rule which has affected how they use their property.

So no relaxation of the rules, but on the plus side there are no further restrictions either. 


The new law contains no new rules about foreigners buying property in France, so potential second-home owners can also continue as before.

What are the rules?

Non-EU nationals from countries covered by the '90 day rule' can spend up to 90 days in every 180 in France without the need for a visa. This includes nationals of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

If they want to stay for longer than 90 days in every 180, however, they will need a visa.

For those who do not want to make France their full-time home, that would normally be a short-stay visitor visa.

The rules at present make no distinction between people who own property in France and other non-EU visitors.

MPs initially rejected the idea of a visa exemption for second-home owners on equality grounds, saying that it gave an advantage to some people purely because of their financial situation (ie they are wealthy enough to own two properties).


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