Brexit: applicable rules in France for British citizens and their family starting on 1 January 2021


Immigrations update:

New year will welcome the start of brand-new rules for British citizens and their family. From 1 January 2021, the situation of British nationals must be distinguished, whether they entered France before or after 31 December 2020.

The Decree n°2020-1417 of 19 November 2020 sets the road map and transposes into French law provisions relating to the conditions of entry, residence, work and access to social rights for British nationals residing or working in France and newcomers.

Milestone dates for British residents in France on 1 January 2021

All British nationals and their dependants must file for a residence permit before 1 July 2021, unless there are reasonable grounds for failing this deadline. All the applications for residence permits can be submitted on - BREXIT/). After filing, a certificate of deposit will be issued immediately to the person applying for a residence permit. Pending the decision of the administrative authority, the applicant continues to benefit from the right to reside, exercise a professional activity and the social rights resulting from it.

Until 30 September 2021, British nationals and their family residing in France have the right to reside in France without a residence permit, as well as the right to exercise a professional activity and benefit from associated social rights.

From 1 October 2021, all British nationals and their family members over the age of 18 residing in France must be in possession of an appropriate residence permit.

New residence permits will be issued and renewed free of charge. It is not required from this public any entry long-term visa or the standard immigration medical certificate.

Who is eligible ?

Individuals covered by the Decree are mirror of Article 10 of the Brexit agreement. Provided they meet these conditions before 1 January 2021, are concerned by the Decree’s provisions:

- A British national residing in France and continuing to reside thereafter,

- A British national, spouse or partner of a French national, residing in France and continuing to reside thereafter, provided they can prove a matrimonial link or a lasting relationship duly attested before that date,

- A British national exercising an economic activity in France as a frontier worker and subsequently pursuing this activity while residing in another Member State of the European Union (EU), a State of the European Economic Area (EEA), on the territory of the Swiss Confederation or in the United Kingdom.

- The family member of a British national residing in France or having taken steps to join the UK national before that date and still satisfying one of the following conditions at the time of application:

  1. be a direct descendant under the age of 21 or a dependant, dependant direct ascendant, spouse or partner in a durable and duly attested relationship, ascendant or direct descendant of the spouse of a British national;
  2. be dependent in the country of origin, be a member of the household or require care on serious medical grounds by the UK national.

- a family member of a British national with pre-existing family link, or born or adopted by the latter from 1 January 2021 or if the national residing in France has sole or joint custody.

They will be granted residence permits for a permanent residence, or as a resident for less than five years, as a frontier worker or as job seeker and their families are eligible to benefits under the general sickness, accident at work and occupational disease insurance scheme, family benefits and allowances for the elderly, disabled adults, employment assistance for childcare, etc. They can also benefit from the Active Solidarity Income (RSA).

New start with new residence permits for Britishresidents in France

Starting on 1 October 2021, it will be compulsory to have one of the 4 new residence permits dedicated to people covered by the Brexit agreement. Residence permits issued for permanent residence, or as a resident for less than 5 years or as a cross-border worker circulation document or a temporary permit for seeking employment. All those new permits are equivalent to a work permit within the scope of Article L. 5221-2 of the Labour Code.

1.Permanent residence Article 50 TEU/Article 18 (1) Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU’ (Séjour permanent - Article 50 TUE/Article 18(1) Accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE) is a 10-year residence permit for British nationals who have resided in France for 5 years and are legally resident there or who hold a permanent residence permit issued before 1 January 2021, or a British national married to a French national, etc.

This title is automatically renewable unless the applicant constitutes a threat to public order. In the event of absence from French territory for more than 5 consecutive years, the residence permit is no longer valid.

2.  ‘Article 50 TEU/Article 18 (1) UK EU withdrawal agreement" (Article 50 TUE/Article 18(1) Accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE) is a 5-year residence permit, for British nationals residing in France for less than 5 years who are employed or self-employed, as well as those who have sufficient resources not to become a burden on the social assistance system or who are studying, as well as their family members. It is renewable under the same conditions.

In the event of temporary incapacity for work, involuntary unemployment or if they undertake vocational training, the holder retains the benefit of their residence permit.

The residence permit granted to the family member (dependant British national or foreign national) may be maintained or issued in the event of a change in situation (death or departure from France of the British national, divorce or marriage annulment).

3. ‘Article 50 TEU - frontier worker/United Kingdom/EU withdrawal agreement - non-resident’ (Article 50 TUE - Travailleur frontalier/Accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE - Non-résident) is a circulation document valid for 5 years for employed and self-employed frontier workers who are British nationals economically active in France before 1 January 2021. With a valid passport, this document entitles to enter and leave France and to carry out any professional activity in France.

4.Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the UE’ (autorisation provisoire de séjour « Accord sur le retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE) is a temporary residence permit which will be delivered to British nationals who entered France before 1 January 2021 for the purpose of seeking employment. The job seekers will be issued a 6-month temporary residence permit, renewable under condition and granting the right to work.

Entry into France after 1 January 2021

From1 January 2021 to 30 September 2021, it will be required for British nationals to have a valid passport and documents proving they belong to the above categories to enter France for a maximum 3-month duration.

For third-country nationals who are British family members falling into the scope of the text, they can obtain a visa free of charge at the French consular services. They can enjoy visa and stay in France up to 90 days, under condition that they do not become an unreasonable burden to the French social system.

There is a notable difference in the Decree n° 2020-1417 with the signed Brexit agreement (Article 14), only a valid passport with duly documented justification (for example any former French residence permits) will allow entry and exit processes, national identity cards are no longer considered as a possibility. Starting on 1 October 2021, the passport and the new residence permits will be compulsory to enter France.

The text is almost silent about the children, except for the residence permit when reaching 18 years. In France, it is not required for minors to hold a residence permit. But in order to simplify the border crossings, all the third country minors, subject to visas usually apply for a “Document de circulation pour étranger mineur” in order to have smooth border crossings.

For other British nationals and their families, as not enlisted beneficiaries, they will be governed by the general immigration regime of entry, stay and work rules for third country nationals, or possibly the preferential rules applicable to EU citizens upon if there are other family or personal grounds (dual nationality or marriage to another EU national).