As one of the UK’s closest neighbours and with an estimated 160,000 resident British citizens the way that France deals with the increasingly likely outcome of a no-deal Brexit will be critical.
In December the French parliament approved a bill that allows the government to take emergency measures by decree with the aim of “protecting our national interests and those of our fellow citizens”. The French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, recently commented that this was necessary “to respect our obligations to make sure that the lives of our citizens and …. British citizens living in France are impacted as little as possible.”
The bill gives assurance to British expats resident in France provided the UK reciprocates. It gives British expats a 12-month period with the right to remain without a permit and access existing rights, including French healthcare and benefits, and gives them a year to acquire formal residency in France. This will be available on terms more favourable than other non-EU nationals.
British citizens who have been living in France for five years or more become eligible to apply for permanent residency. This titre de séjour permanent (or carte de resident) gives you the right to live and work in France and grants the same rights to healthcare and benefits as French citizens. The card is automatically renewable every ten years provided you continue to live in France and are not absent from France for more than two years.
Other concerns for British expats in France have been around their ability to continue receiving private pensions if there is no deal and the terms around the ability of British financial services providers to deliver services in the EU. Specialist expat financial advisory firm Blevins Franks report that the French Prime Minister’s office has provided reassurance that UK nationals living in France will be able to continue to receive payments from British private pension and insurance companies saying that a separate order would “ensure the continuity of certain financial activities, in particular relating to insurance, after the loss of the UK’s financial passport.”
Another issue that will require clarification is the validity of UK driving licences. The Guardian report that The Department for Transport has advised “In the event that there is no EU exit deal, you may have to pass a driving test in the EU country you live in to be able to carry on driving there.” Short term visitors may also have to obtain an International Driving Permit from a UK Post Office.