Guidance

Living in France

Official information British people moving to and living in France need to know, including Brexit guidance, residency, healthcare and driving.

Brexit: what you should do

You should:

Stay up to date

The UK is leaving the EU. This page tells you how to prepare for Brexit and will be updated if anything changes. You should:

Attend a citizen outreach meeting

The British Embassy regularly holds events across France for UK nationals. Attend one of our citizen outreach meetings to keep up to date on working and living in France after Brexit

You can also:

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for France.

Before Brexit you can apply for a European carte de séjour at your local préfecture under the current system, although this is optional. If you have applied and your residency application has been refused, or you think it has been handled incorrectly by your préfecture, contact British Embassy Paris. You should include information about the issue, when the event took place, and which préfecture (département) it relates to. We will provide feedback to the French Ministry of the Interior and request improvements as necessary.

Many people are choosing to wait and apply to the post-Brexit system, which should be simpler and easier to complete (see below). This may be easier, in particular, if you cannot get an appointment at your prefecture before the day the UK leaves the EU, or have not had an update on your EU carte de séjour application.

After Brexit, whether you have obtained a European carte de séjour or not, all UK nationals resident in France will need to obtain a new type of residence permit relevant to their situation to claim their rights. This includes UK nationals waiting for French nationality and UK nationals married to or PACsed to (in a civil partnership with) French nationals.

If there’s no deal, and you live in France on the day the UK leaves the EU, you will have a grace period of 1 year. During this period, you will retain your right of residence, and associated work and social rights. You must apply for your new residence card within 6 months of the day the UK leaves the EU, and you will receive it by the end of the 1-year grace period. The French government has said you will be able to travel outside of France while your application is being processed.

The French Prime Minister announced on 9 September 2019, that UK nationals will be able to apply for the new residence permits via an online portal. This portal is now live in an initial trial phase.

If there’s no deal, the card you are issued will depend on your personal situation. The specified categories are:

  • UK nationals who have been living in France for 5 years or more
  • UK nationals who have been living in France for less than 5 years and fall under one of the below categories:
  • salaried worker with a Contrat à Durée Indéterminée (CDI)
  • salaried worker with a Contrat à Durée Déterminée (CDD)
  • self- employed
  • during the last year have either graduated in France or worked for at least 3 months and are now looking for work or creating a business
  • students
  • family members of UK nationals who qualify for one of the above categories
  • UK nationals who have been living in France for less than 5 years but do not fulfil any of the above categories

If there’s no deal new residence cards will cost €119. If you have lived in France for at least 5 years and hold a permanent carte de séjour prior to Brexit, you will be able to exchange your current card for the new card (the fee still applies).

The French Ministry of Interior have detailed this information in an ordonnance and accompanying decree. You can read their question and answers on residency (in French) and their official guidance for UK nationals (in English)

We will update this page as more information becomes available.

Passports and travel

You can apply for or renew your British passport from France.

See our travel advice for France and sign up to email alerts for up-to-date travel information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

Passports and travel after Brexit

After Brexit, the rules on travel will change. Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport. If there is a deal, nothing will change until at least the end of 2020. During this time you can continue to travel freely in the Schengen area with your UK passport. What happens after 2020 will form the next part of negotiations.

If there’s no deal, new travel rules will apply. You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

If there’s no deal, UK nationals will not need visas for short stays elsewhere in the EU. You will be able to stay up to 90 days in another EU, EEA or EFTA country, within a 180-day period. You must retain evidence of travel (such as train and plane tickets), in case these are requested by national authorities. If you hold a residence permit from an EU, EEA or EFTA country, you will be able to transit through other EU, EEA or EFTA countries to reach your country of residence. The French authorities are preparing to streamline border crossings for UK nationals resident in France who will not have residence permits until the end of the 1-year grace period. Read the French government’s guidance on travel after Brexit.

Healthcare

You must register for healthcare as a resident in France, and in addition, you can sign up for top-up health insurance (mutuelle). Read the guidance on who is able to access healthcare in France and how to register.

If you are legally resident in France, you can get a French social security card for healthcare (carte vitale). To get a French social security card, you will need to register with your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM). They can tell you which documents they need for your registration. Top-up insurance cover (mutuelle) also exists to cover the cost of healthcare not covered by a Carte Vitale.

If you have been resident in France for more than 3 months you can apply to be covered by the French healthcare system (PUMA).

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are resident in France, you must not use an EHIC from the UK for healthcare in France.

When you travel from France for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country. During that short stay:

State healthcare — S1

If you live in France and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may currently be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

Read the guidance on France.

If you are a student, read the NHS guidance on healthcare and studying abroad.

You should check your prescriptions are legal in France.

You can find information on mental health in France.

Healthcare after Brexit

If there is a deal, your current rights on access to healthcare in France will remain the same until the end of the implementation period, as long as you remain a resident in France.

If there’s no deal, your access to healthcare is likely to change. You must take action now to ensure you have the necessary healthcare cover in order to apply for your new residency status during the 6 month application window following exit day.

If you currently have your healthcare costs paid for by the UK government, we can help if you are asked to pay for treatment during the first 6 months after Brexit. To organise a payment, you must give your healthcare provider’s details to the NHS Business Services Authority’s Overseas Healthcare Services.

Following new legislation, the French government has indicated that if there’s no deal, UK pension holders with an S1 that are resident in France before Brexit will continue to be entitled to healthcare for up to 2 years on equal terms to local healthcare users, while we negotiate a longer-term agreement.

Healthcare entitlements from employment in France should not be affected.

The French government has indicated that your EHIC will no longer be valid if there’s no deal.

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

Read the guidance on healthcare for UK nationals in France and how it may change after Brexit.

Working and studying in France

Read our guidance on working in another EU country.

To apply for a job you may need to provide a:

Working in France after Brexit

If there is a deal, your right to work will stay the same until the end of the implementation period.

If there’s no deal, UK nationals living and working in France on the day the UK leaves the EU will keep their right to work for a period of one year whilst their application for a residence card is in process (read our residency guidance). If you are living and working in France on the day the UK leaves the EU, this residence card will allow you to keep your right to work.

Read the guidance on providing services after Brexit if you’re planning to start a business, provide a service, or do a job in a regulated profession after Brexit.

You can look at the French government’s website on working in France after Brexit (in French).

Studying in France after Brexit

Whether there is a deal or not, university tuition fees in France may increase due to the French government reforms to public university tuition fees for all non-EU students. Increased fees will not apply to UK students already enrolled on a course of study when the reforms were announced (September 2019) for the duration of that course.

Check with your grant provider for any continued eligibility for student support. (In French)

Read the guidance on continuing your studies in the European Union after Brexit and about the French government’s reforms on tuition fees.

Money and tax

The UK has a double-taxation agreement with France to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.

Read the guidance about:

You should get professional advice on paying tax in France. Find an English-speaking lawyer in France.

Declaration of assets

All 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.

National Insurance

Find out if you can pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

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

If there’s no deal and the end date on your form is after the day the UK leaves the EU, you should contact the relevant EU or EEA authority. They will confirm whether you need to start paying social security contributions in that country after Brexit, as well as UK National Insurance contributions.

Find out more about social security contributions after a no-deal Brexit.

Money and tax after Brexit

Brexit will not change existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in France. You should direct individual taxpayer questions about double taxation to the relevant tax authority.

If there’s no deal, it may become more expensive to use your UK bank card in France. Read more about using a bank card, insurance or other financial service in the EU.

Pensions

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 retire in France, you can claim:

You can read the French government’s guidance on French social security including pensions.

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible - your payments may be suspended if you don’t. Or you can ask your local town hall (mairie) to fill in a French life certificate (certificat de vie) (in French) instead.

Pensions after Brexit

The UK government will continue to pay a State Pension to those eligible in the EU after Brexit. Your UK State Pension will be uprated in April 2020, 2021 and 2022 if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

Read our guidance on pensions if there’s no deal.

If there is a deal and 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 the end of the implementation period.

Benefits

You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in France. You can:

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC, if you are asked for this.

French unemployment benefit

For French unemployment benefits, you should:

French disability benefit

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

French family allowance

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

Benefits after Brexit

The UK government will continue to pay the UK State Pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to those eligible in the EU after Brexit.

If there is a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in France, your UK social security contributions will be taken into account when applying for French contributions-based benefits. This will happen even if you claim contributions-based benefits after the end of the implementation period.

If there’s a no deal, the French government has proposed that they will continue to take periods of work in the UK before Brexit into account when claiming certain French contributions-based benefits. We will update this guidance when an agreement is reached.

If there’s no deal, the French government has also said that UK nationals with less than five years residence who receive the Revenu de Solidarite Active (RSA) prior to the UK’s exit from the EU will be able to continue receiving the RSA benefit for a period of a year. Eligible UK nationals with more than five years’ residence will also be able to continue receiving the benefit during the grace period and beyond.

Read our guidance on benefits and pensions in a no deal scenario.

Driving in France

Currently, because of considerable delays in processing requests to exchange overseas driving licences for French ones, we recommend you do not seek to exchange your British driving licence for a French one. However you should proceed with your request if your licence:

  • has been lost or stolen
  • is expiring shortly (within the next 6 months). This includes the expiry of your entitlement or photo card
  • needs to be amended to include a/several new driving categories, such as to be able to drive different vehicles
  • needs to be exchanged because you committed an infraction to the French Highway Code resulting in point deductions, a suspension of your right to drive or a cancellation of your driving licence

In all other cases, if you are resident in France before the day the UK leaves the EU, you do not need to exchange your licence to drive legally in France. French authorities will continue to recognise your licence as before Brexit.

Centre d’Expertise et de Ressources des Titres (CERT) is being reorganised to deal with the backlog with delays which is currently at 8 to 12 months.

If you are in the process of exchanging your UK licence via CERT, do not try to renew in parallel with DVLA because this will invalidate your CERT application. Applications in the UK with a French address cannot be processed.

For information on driving in France, read the guidance on:

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to France

Read our guidance on taking a vehicle out of the UK.

Read the European Union’s guidance on car registration and taxes in France. You may be exempt from some of these taxes. If so, you will need certificates of exemption.

Please contact your local prefecture or read the French government’s guidance on driving in France with a foreign licence (in French).

Driving after Brexit

If there is a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same during the implementation period (until 31 December 2020).

If there’s no deal, and you are already resident in France on the day the UK leaves the EU, you will continue to be able to drive in France with your UK driving licence under the same conditions as any resident.

If there’s no deal, UK nationals moving to France after Brexit will have a 1-year period to exchange their UK driving licence for a French one.

Read our guidance on driving in the EU after Brexit.

Voting

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

If you’re resident in France, you can vote in local municipal and European parliamentary elections.

Voting after Brexit

After Brexit, UK nationals will no longer be eligible to vote in local and European elections.

The French Ministry of the Interior have a website to help UK nationals living and working in France (in French) which covers voting.

Births, deaths and getting married

If your child is born in France, you will need to register the birth abroad.

If someone dies in France you can:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

Find out about notarial and documentary services in France

You may also need:

Accommodation and buying property

Read our guidance on:

Pets

You will still be able to travel to and from the UK with a cat, dog or ferret after Brexit, but the rules will change. You can read guidance on pet travel to Europe after the UK leaves the EU.

While the UK is still an EU Member State you’ll be able to travel with your pet to the EU under the current pet travel rules using your current EU pet passport. If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you must visit your vet to get a pet passport.

Read guidance on returning your cat, dog or ferret to the UK. For moving pet horses and other equines read guidance on exporting horses and ponies: special rules.

Emergencies

You can dial the European emergency number 112 in France, or dial:

  • 17 for police
  • 18 for fire brigade
  • 15 for medical

Find the full list of emergency number in France.

If you have been the victim of a rape or sexual assault, you can find guidance on rape and sexual assault in France.

If you’re the victim of a crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis abroad, contact the British embassy in Paris.

Returning to the UK

You should tell the French and UK authorities if you are returning to the UK permanently.

You should tell your local French tax office (in French) that you are changing address and the date you will leave.

You’ll need to tell your local social security office (in French) and benefit office you’re leaving if you’ve been getting unemployment benefit (in French) or child and housing benefit (in French).

If you get a UK State Pension, you must tell the International Pension Centre. If you get a French pension, 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.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the French authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 10 June 2013
Last updated 16 October 2019 + show all updates
  1. Brexit update: changes in residency section on new online portal for residence permit applications; in travel section on the grace period; and on driving licences.
  2. Brexit update: healthcare section updated to reflect transitional arrangements announcement
  3. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating.
  4. EU Exit update: updated information on EU Exit in healthcare, visas and residency, driving and working sections
  5. We have updated the "Residency and Visas" section of this guide, including our translation of the French government's website, as well as the "Driving in France" section.
  6. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.
  7. We have announced new citizens outreach meetings in Poitiers (13/03), Paris (18/03) and Marseille (19/03).
  8. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip
  9. EU Exit update: Revised the following sections of the Living in Guide: visas and residency, healthcare, money and tax, pensions and driving in France.
  10. EU Exit update - Updated information on access to healthcare
  11. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving
  12. Attached new informative note on name change
  13. The French Ministry of Interior has recently launched a new website, brexit.gouv.fr. We have now translated three sections of their guidance into English on residency, UK driving licenses and elections.
  14. We have added a new unofficial translation of the "elections" section of the French authorities's new website, Brexit.gouv.fr.
  15. We have updated the section on "registration in France" to reflect the Ministry of Interior's latest advice and to provide you with a link to the recent website on Brexit published by the French authorities. We are also providing you with a non-official translation of their guidance.
  16. EU exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in pet section.
  17. Added a link to sign up for the Embassy's newsletter, Voisins Voices, and added a link to the future citizens outreach meetings page in France.
  18. New contact form added for questions about the carte de séjour application. Under Registration in France, section, added a link to useful information from the préfecture de Dordogne.
  19. Addition of the top 10 questions on Brexit from UK nationals in France under the "Brexit: what you need to know" section. This Q&A was created by the British Embassy in Paris to answer the top 10 questions of UK nationals living and working in France.
  20. Added in information about French registration
  21. Additional information on visas and requirements, including on applying for "carte de séjour."
  22. Updated June 2018
  23. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  24. Added information re: French law requiring the carrying of ID at all times in France.
  25. Added: support and guidance for British nationals experiencing mental illness in France
  26. Added two new paragraphs re: Travel Advice and Lost Property.
  27. Information added on changes to EHIC rules and health cover for early retirees.
  28. Information added for Britons living in France on how to register to vote in the French municipal and European elections.
  29. Life certificates information for UK state pension updated
  30. First published.