Brexit: living in France for the British

Since Brexit became official, many Britons are choosing to move to France. These new expatriates find themselves immersed in a new country, which may not be very far away, but is still different. So how does a Brit come to France? Where to stay in France? Which French region to choose? How to buy a car in France How do you send your children to school? Here’s our advice.


The British already in France

The UK’s exit from the European Union (January 1, 2021) is deciding Britons to move to France, giving a boost to property purchases. For example, some real estate groups are forecasting 50% growth in real estate sales in 2019. Operating in 60 départements, the network sold over 300 homes in July and nearly 350 in August 2020. It would appear that France is the preferred destination for Britons after Spain. However, less than 24 hours after the referendum result, a British pound was worth around €1.20, compared with €1.30 a few hours earlier. This fall in the British currency automatically leads to a fall in British purchasing power. This devaluation of the pound is therefore chilling some Brits from moving abroad, whether they’re for or against Brexit.
The South-West is the region of choice for British expatriates. A third of the 150,000 Britons already resident in France live in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie regions. Haute-Vienne, Charente and Dordogne are particularly popular: over 90% of Britons there are homeowners. For example, the village of Eymet in the south of the Dordogne has 400 English residents out of a total population of 2,600. The attractive climate, the countryside that reminds the British of England, the more affordable property prices and the easy access by car seem to be some of the reasons why they choose to join us in France. A third of English people living in France are retired, but 55,000 are still working. In the Dordogne, 500 British nationals have registered as business owners with the CCI. The trades most in demand in the region are construction, followed by communications, business support (especially translation) and tourism.

Source: Les Echos / INSEE

What kind of health insurance do Britons need when they come to France?

When applying for a residence permit, you must provide the French authorities with proof of health insurance. Mondassur has been offering this type of health insurance for Britons for almost 20 years. Various types of insurance may be suitable for foreign residents in France: GoldImpat international health insurance for France, GoldStart insurance (available in 3 formulas), GoldVisa insurance or temporary insurance for the Long Stay Europe Access visa.

Gold Impat
is ideal for foreigners wishing to expatriate to France for more than 6 months (automatically renewable, subject to payment of premiums). This is the most comprehensive insurance available. It covers hospitalization, medical, optical and dental expenses. It covers you from the 1st euro paid in or in addition to Social Security. You can subscribe directly online or by paper form.

Gold Start insurance with the Backup, Basic and Nomad packages offers excellent value for money and enables you to obtain your Long Stay visa.

Gold Visa insurance
insurance with the Safe option will be available for Britons up to the age of 75 to obtain your long-stay visa.

Europe Access visa insurance
covers you whether you are going to France or another EU country for a period of up to 1 year. This is the most economical insurance for long-stay visas for the Schengen area to Europe. If you are British, you will need to have EHIC or GHIC, as this insurance alone will not be validated for your long-stay visa.

How can the British come to France?

It is now compulsory for British nationals to obtain a residence permit for stays of more than 90 days. You need to apply on the Ministry of the Interior’s online application website. Certain criteria must be met. British nationals must comply with one of the following situations:

– Be currently employed or self-employed (or have already been employed and registered as a job seeker)
– Have sufficient resources for yourself and your family, as well as health insurance.
– Be currently in education or vocational training, and have health insurance.
– Or be a family member of a British national who settled in France before December 31, 2020 and who has a right of residence (spouse, partner, child, or other family member supported by or forming part of the household of a British national).

To complete your application, you will need to send a copy of an identity document (passport, national identity card, etc.) and one or more additional documents, according to procedures to be specified. British nationals and their family members wishing to settle in France must go to the Préfecture to apply for a residence permit.

Different residence permits for different situations

– British nationals and their family members already settled in France before December 31, 2020 will be able to obtain specific residence permits (“agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU”).
– British nationals legally resident in France before December 31, 2020 and present in the country for more than 5 years will be eligible for a 10-year permanent residence permit.
– British nationals legally resident in France before December 31, 2020, and who have been in the country for less than 5 years, will be entitled to a residence permit for between 1 and 5 years, depending on their situation.
– Britons arriving in France after December 31, 2020 will need to apply for a long-stay visa, then go to the prefecture to apply for a residence permit, and of course be covered by health insurance in France.
– Britons who have British citizen family members already settled in France before December 31, 2020 (see criteria to be met) will be eligible for a free visa and access to a residence permit once they arrive in France.
– British nationals arriving in France on or after January 1, 2021 who have no family ties with a Briton living in France will be issued with an ordinary residence permit.

Residence permits marked “European Union citizen” will continue to be valid until July 1, 2020, but will no longer be valid after this date. British nationals holding this title will therefore have to apply online for a title marked “withdrawal agreement”.

Can residence permits be used to travel within the EU?

Residence permits issued in France allow travel to other Schengen countries, but only for periods not exceeding 3 months. You can also move within France. All you need to do is notify the Préfecture in your area of your change of address.

Do British minors need a residence permit to enter France?

British minors are not required to hold a residence permit if they stay less than 90 days, and the same applies to all foreign minors. This rule remains applicable after the UK’s exit from the European Union.

What about school trips to the UK?

Minors who are nationals of a country outside the European Union or the Schengen area, resident in France and taking part in a school trip to the UK, may continue to travel only on a collective travel document (“liste d’écoliers voyageant dans le cadre d’une excursion scolaire à l’intérieur de l’Union européenne”). This document is issued by the prefecture. Foreign minors do not need any other travel documents, apart from a parental authorization to leave the country. However, it is essential to take out health insurance for school trips to the UK, as the European Health Insurance Card will no longer work.

How to find accommodation in France for Britons?

For British expatriates in France, like any other foreigner, there’s no difference with the French when it comes to lifestyle. To buy a house or apartment in France, you can go through an agency, where you will have to add the agency fees to the price of the property. To facilitate your purchase, you can take out a bank loan with any bank (unless you already have sufficient cash available). To do this, an appointment is made with a bank advisor, who will explain your project and tell you how much you need for your purchase. You then pay monthly installments (a sum of money every month) to repay the loan. Before that, the advisor may accept or refuse your application, depending on whether you are able to repay the loan.
In the case of a rental, you need to add the fees for the inventory of fixtures. If you are renting from a private individual, you will also have to pay for the inventory of fixtures and a security deposit (the price varies according to the property and the owner). Documents are also required. The last 3 pay slips, for example, to demonstrate your income and your ability to pay the rent. For students, guarantors are systematically required, and in this case it is their own income that is requested. Other documents may also be required, such as proof of identity, a student card (for students), the latest tax assessment or your employment contract. Certain documents are always required (ID, pay slips, employment contract, etc.), but others may change. It’s up to the owner, or the agency, to decide which documents to submit.

How to buy a car in France for an Englishman?

For a British expatriate in France, the same principle applies as for the purchase of a house or apartment. All you have to do is take out a bank loan, then go to a car dealership to buy the car you like (unless you already have sufficient cash available). You can also go through a private individual via websites like Le Bon Coin, for example. Prices are generally lower, and you arrange directly with the owner for the price, where and how to collect the car.

How to send your children to school in France: the French school system

In France, schooling is compulsory from the age of 3 until the age of 16. Education in public schools is free. It comprises nursery, primary and secondary education, which are all compulsory. Nursery school is a 3-year cycle for pupils aged 3 to 6. Elementary school is a 5-year cycle for pupils aged 6 to 11. Secondary education consists of 2 cycles: collège and lycée. Middle school is the first cycle for students aged 11 to 15. It lasts 4 years and culminates in the Diplôme National du Brevet awarded to students who pass the exam. It symbolizes the end of middle school. Lycée is the second stage of secondary education for students aged 15 to 17-18, and can be entered without having obtained the Brevet. Students can choose to study in a general high school in the traditional stream (Scientific (S), Literary (L) or Economic and Social (ES) streams) or in a vocational high school in a vocational stream. This course of study enables you to specialize and start work straight after graduation. The course lasts 3 years and ends with the Baccalauréat, the diploma that validates the end of secondary education. This diploma is very important in France, as it enables students to access French higher education more easily, but also to find a job more easily, if they so wish. The student can also start an apprenticeship. This paid training course is available from the age of 16 to 29. Remuneration varies according to the apprentice’s age and the number of years in the program. It increases with age. To enroll, you need to find a host company and then register with a CFA. This training leads to a CAP diploma, which enables you to start work either directly in the host company, or in another company.

How do I register my British children in France?

To be registered, the child must be present on French territory. Documents are also required. They vary from academy to academy, depending on where you live. Academies are divided into 3 zones: A, B and C.

– Zone A: Académie de Besançon, Académie de Bordeaux, Académie de Clermont-Ferrand, Académie de Dijon, Académie de Grenoble, Académie de la Guadeloupe, Académie de la Guyane, Académie de la Martinique, Académie de La Réunion, Académie de Limoges, Académie de Lyon, Académie de Poitiers
– Zone B: Académie d’Aix-Marseille, Académie d’Amiens, Académie d’Orléans-Tours, Académie de Caen, Académie de Corse, Académie de Lille, Académie de Nancy-Metz, Académie de Nantes, Académie de Nice, Académie de Reims, Académie de Rennes, Académie de Rouen, Académie de Strasbourg
– Zone C: Académie de Créteil, Académie de Montpellier, Académie de Paris, Académie de Toulouse, Académie de Versailles

The town hall in your place of residence will provide you with the documents you need to register.
Registration for nursery and elementary school takes place in 2 stages. First, go to your local town hall. You will be given the registration certificate, which indicates the name and contact details of the school where your child will be enrolled. Then to the school principal, who will admit your child. Enrollment in collège and lycée is based on where you live, i.e. you enroll your child in the collège, lycée général or lycée professionnel in your commune. You must go directly to the administrative department at the school, which will take care of everything.

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