Living in Post-Brexit France

So that’s it then! 3 prime ministers, 3 and half years, a lot of fractious fighting… and finally Brexit has happened.  We’re out!

Whatever your feelings on the matter, on a practical note, living in post-Brexit France may bring about certain changes to your daily life and although nothing has been set in stone, yet, the British government has posted new advice for UK nationals living on the continent.

All information is provided as guidance only with the disclaimer that all definitive information should be obtained from the French authorities.

Full article available from the British government website.

Transition period

We are now in the transition period which began on Saturday 1st February and will run through until 31st December 2020.

The rules on travelling to the EU will remain the same during this period. You can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.

You can move to a different country in the EU in the same way as you could before Brexit.

The Withdrawal Agreement

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights.

If you are resident in France at the end of the transition period, you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in France.

You will continue to have broadly the same entitlements to work, study and access public services and benefits as before the UK left the EU.

Any rights that are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be the subject of future negotiations.

Residency status

Information from the Living In Guide for France states that you should, if you haven’t already:

  • register as resident in France
  • register for healthcare in France (available for anyone resident in France for over 3 months)
Remember: If you are resident in France, you must not use an EHIC from the UK for healthcare in France. Your EHIC card is to access state-provided healthcare when you travel from France for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.

Residency permits

If you are resident in France before the transition period ends, you will be able to stay.

All UK nationals resident in France will need to obtain a new residence permit in line with the Withdrawal Agreement. This includes:

  • UK nationals with a European carte de séjour (even if it is marked “permanent”, or has no expiry date)
  • UK nationals without a European carte de séjour (it is currently optional to have one)
  • UK nationals applying for a second nationality
  • UK nationals married to or PACSed to (in a civil partnership with) EU nationals

The French government has not yet announced what registration process will be put in place. You may choose to wait for the new system rather than seeking to renew or apply for an EU carte de séjour. You will have until at least the end of June 2021 to apply.

If you have been resident in France for less than five years, you will be able to stay to accrue the time to apply for permanent residency in the new system.

Details (in English) of the French government’s guidance on French residency here.

Money and tax

The UK has a double taxation agreement with France to ensure you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in France have not changed.

If you are employed or self-employed in the EU or EEA and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.

All French residents must declare any assets held outside France, including bank accounts, securities, rights, insurance, annuities and property. This declaration is separate to the annual tax return.

You should get professional advice on paying tax in France. Use or online directory (or follow the links here) to find local bilingual financial advisers and lawyers.


There will be no changes before 31st December 2020 to the rules on claiming the UK State Pension although you will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad..

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31st December 2020 you will get your UK State Pension updated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1st January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions explained in the new State Pension guidance.

If you retire in France, you can claim your UK State Pension or new UK State Pension by contacting the International Pension Centre. You will likely need to complete and return annual Life Certificates to ensure your payments are not suspended. Head to your local mairie and ask for a ‘certificate de vie‘.

If you worked in France, you can claim your French pension by contacting your local pensions office.

If you have pensions owed from other EU countries, read the guidelines here.

Anybody who becomes residents in France by 31st December 2020 will be able to count future social security contributions towards meeting the qualifying conditions for your UK State Pension.

If you work and pay social security contributions in France, you will still be able to add your UK social security contributions towards your French pension. This will happen even if you claim your pension after 31st December 2020.


You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in France. There’s on online tool that will help you check which benefits you can claim while abroad, and how to claim them.

For French unemployment benefits (chômage), you should check if you’re eligible on the French government’s website and contact contact Pôle Emploi to claim.

Contact the Maison Départementale des Personnes Handicapées (MDPH) about disability allowance – there are several disability allowances so it’s best to seek advice from them before applying.

To apply for child allowance, family income support, single-parent allowance or housing allowance, contact the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales) if you need help applying, request an appointment with the social worker at your local mairie.

Driving in France

Driving licence rules will stay the same until 31st December 2020.

Because of a considerable backlog (8 – 12 months!), both French and British governments are advising you do not apply to exchange overseas driving licences for French ones, unless absolutely necessary for other non-Brexit related reasons.

If you are planning on bringing a UK-registered vehicle into France, read the British government’s guidelines, the European Union’s guidelines and our own article with readers’ experiences.

If you do have a French driving licence, after the transition period, you may be required to have an international driving licence, which is written in English, or an official translation of the original French licence.

Certain P-O Life readers have already come up against this problem booking through Easy Jet at Gatwick. They were eventually able to hire as it turned out the rental provider was mis-informed… easily done with all the to-ing and fro-ing but a horrible experience for those involved!


Current pet travel rules will stay the same until 31st December 2020.

If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you must visit your vet to get a pet passport.

Read the British government’s guidelines and our article.

Returning to the UK

If you decide to return to the UK permanently, you should tell your local French tax office that you are changing address and the date you will leave.

You’ll need to tell your local social security office and any agencies from whom you receive benefits (unemployment, housing etc.)

If you get a UK State Pension, you must tell the International Pension Centre. If you get a French pension, you need to contact your pension provider.

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.

If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test, you’ll be able to access NHS care without charge.

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