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9 things Brits need to know about moving to France since Brexit

Emma Pearson
Emma Pearson - [email protected]
9 things Brits need to know about moving to France since Brexit
Moving to France is harder for Brits since Brexit, but still possible. Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP

There's no doubt that Brexit has made moving to France more complicated for Brits - but it is still possible. Here are some of things you need to know before making the move.


Brits who want to move to France now face a radically different process from those who took advantage of EU freedom of movement to make the move before Brexit. 

It's a more complicated process - but it's still possible and 8,700 UK nationals moved to France in 2023

Here are some of the big things you need to know before making the move.

1 Visa

The biggest post-Brexit change is that Brits moving to France now require a visa (unless they have dual nationality with an EU country).

The visa must be applied for first, and only when it is granted can you make the move - you cannot come to France and then apply for residency (unless you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, more on that below).

There are various different types of visas depending on what you intend to do in France - work, study, retire etc - and many of them contain conditions eg people on a 'visitor' visa are not permitted to work in France.

It makes things less flexible as it's harder to change your plans once you have arrived. It also means that it's harder to have a 'half and half' lifestyle - eg retire from your day job and move to France to run a gîte or B&B.

Explained: What type of French visa do you need

The best visa type is undoubtedly the 'Talent Passport', so it's worth checking whether you fit any of the criteria for this visa type

2 Residency card

Once you have your visa and have moved to France this is very far from being the end of the process.

You will need to apply for a residency card after a certain period (usually three months but different visa types have different rules) and according to your personal situation you may also be required to attend a compulsory medical, language classes and 'integration' classes through the French office of immigration and integration (OFII) - more on that here

READ ALSO Getting a French visa - what paperwork comes next?

3 Health cover 

When it comes to health there is some good news - Brits have retained many of their pre-Brexit rights to healthcare.


While you may need to provide proof of private health cover for your visa (depending on the visa type) once you have been resident in France for three months you are entitled to register in the French health system, which covers most of your medical costs.

Full details on how to register HERE.

Brits who are retired and have reached UK pension age also retain their right to an S1 - the status which entitles you to register in the French health system, while the UK continues to pay your medical costs.

4 Remote working 

The rise in remote working means that the dream of moving abroad seems much closer for working-age people - since you will be able to work remotely in your native language, maybe even keep your existing job and simply relocate.


While this is possible, you need to do careful research in advance to ensure that work is compliant with your visa and tax situation. Unlike some countries, France does not have a 'digital nomad visa' or other visa types aimed at remote workers, in fact the visa rules were written before remote working became widespread, which is why there are some grey areas.

Most lawyers advise getting a working visa (salarié if you are working remotely for a French company as an employee, or auto-entrepreneur for freelancers) and paying social contributions in France. Find full details on visa and tax implications.

READ ALSO France's entrepreneur visa and how to get it

You also need to be aware that being a remote working can have an effect on your long-term plans in France - for example if after five years of residence you intend to apply for French citizenship you will need to prove that the 'centre of your economic activity' in in France. If all your work is done remotely for foreign companies then this could be a reason to have citizenship refused. 

5 Working restrictions 

If you want to work in France (remotely or not) you first need to check if there are any restrictions on your profession - certain types of work are 'regulated professions' in France, which means you will need specific French qualifications and/or registration within a French guild or professional organisation. The number of professions that are 'regulated' is surprisingly wide - taking in everything from chimney sweeping to hairdressing.


The next step is whether your qualifications will be recognised in France - EU countries generally recognise most of each other's qualifications apart from in certain specific areas like medicine, but this is no longer the case for qualifications gained in the UK - more details here.

There are also certain jobs that are restricted to French citizens only, while others - including working in the public sector in positions including being a librarian - are limited to EU citizens only.

In visa terms, the simplest way for working-age people to come to France is as a salarié (employee) but to do this you will need a job already in place and your new employers will have to act as sponsors for your visa and may also be required to get a work permit for you. All of which means that Brits are less attractive as employees than EU citizens, which makes getting a job harder.

The other option is to be self-employed as either a freelancer, contractor or running a small business - this is a more complicated visa to get, requiring a detailed business plan. Once in France you need to register yourself as a small business/self-employed and register with Urssaf.

READ ALSO Urssaf - what is it and how does it work?

6 Tax

If you are living in France, then you will need to do the annual income tax declaration - even if all your income comes from abroad and you are retired/not working in France.

Full details on that HERE.

This was in fact the case before Brexit as well but previously there was a little more flexibility for people who split their time between France and the UK. These days if you want to be here for the majority of the year then you will need a visa/residency card, which removes much of the ambiguity about who is a 'resident'.


The main post-Brexit difference is the rate at which prélèvements sociaux (social charges, similar to National Insurance) are charged on overseas income (eg earnings from work in the UK or income from renting out a UK property).

The rate is 7.5 percent for income from an EU country and 17.2 percent for income from a non-EU country - after Brexit, UK income switched to the non-EU rate.

7 Driving licence 

Foreigners who make France their home will sooner or later need to swap their driving licence for a French one. This too was the case even before Brexit, but many UK or NI licence holders never got round to making the switch, and there wasn't a lot of enforcement of the rule.

This has now been tightened up and UK/NI licence holders will need to swap their licences for a French one - the exact details of when you make the swap are slightly different for Brits than from other non-EU nationals due to a specific UK-France deal. Find full details HERE.

If you want to bring a car with you from the UK to France, you will also need to re-register it as French - full details HERE.

8 Banks 

Most people moving to France will want to set up a French bank account for daily life, but you may also need a UK account, especially if you are a pensioner as some pensions will only pay into a UK account.

However since Brexit some of the biggest UK high street banks have been closing the accounts of their customers who do not live in the UK.


Alternatives include specific 'expat' accounts or internet banks - more details HERE.

9 The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

It's worth mentioning the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement even though most of it will not apply to newcomers. In brief, the citizens' rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement covered people who moved to France prior to December 31st 2020, and intended to give them an easy way to remain in France and retain at least some of their pre-Brexit rights.

In general it does not apply to newcomers unless you are a close family member of someone who is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement - either a spouse or civil partner (in which case you must have married/ registered your partnership prior to December 31st 2020) or child. These people have a different path to residency, and can arrive in France and then request residency via the local préfecture of the family member who is already living here.

It's also worth mentioning because of how different it is to the situation for new arrivals. It's normal to ask Brits already living in France how they found the whole process - but if someone starts to tell you that getting residency is easy, the first question that you need to ask is when they moved here.

Those here prior to 2021 did indeed get an easy process - they had a special website to apply online for (free) residency cards and received straight away either a 5-year or 10-year card. This is a totally difference process to the one for Brits moving to France now.

If you're asking around you would be better talking to Americans, Canadians or other non-EU nationals since their process is much more similar to that now in place for Brits.

. . . And new deals/visas/residency permits for Brits

Every now and again UK media will report which great excitement the possibility of a 'new deal' for Brits that will make moving to France, or buying a second home here, easier.

These reports should all be taken with a pinch of salt - there are currently no negotiations underway that would affect the process of Brits moving to France, and even if something is proposed in the near future it will likely take years to come into effect because these types of international agreements usually happen slowly.


A proposal for a 'youth mobility scheme' from the EU was rejected out of hand by British politicians before it had even been formally offered.


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