Moving to France from UK
Relocating abroad begins a transformative journey filled with diverse experiences and unforgettable memories.
Have you ever considered France? This enchanting country boasts a wealth of cultural richness and a slow pace of life. It offers a blend of old-world charm and modern comforts for anyone relocating.
France is UK citizens' second most sought-after destination, hosting nearly 150,000 British expatriates after Spain. Enjoy the slow-paced life that offers quality time, fresh groceries, multiple places to visit and an overall great quality of life.
However, moving to France from the UK post-Brexit has become notably tricky. New requirements have been introduced for British citizens, adding complexity to the process, such as gathering more documents to apply for visas or exploring the tax system. Nevertheless, many British nationals have chosen France as their new home.
Get to know the various types of visas and resident permits available for you and what each entails for your situations and needs. Read this comprehensive guide about invaluable insights on how to relocate to France. It explores relocation for workers, students, and retirees, offering detailed information on:
- Visa types & Application processes
- Taxes & Healthcare
- Living Costs
- Advantages & Drawbacks
- Hiring a Removal Company
Moving to France from UK after Brexit
Before Brexit, British citizens could freely move within Europe. However, they are now classified as non-European citizens or third-country nationals. This has led to significant changes in various processes, including entry requirements, duration of stays in a country, and the types of activities legally permitted.
Note: Other changes may apply depending on your circumstances. If you have any questions regarding relocating to France, you should seek advice from a highly experienced legal counsel.
After Brexit, you can only stay in France for up to three months in 180 days as a tourist or on business without a visa. This means a person must leave before 90 days and not return for another 90 days.
Since Brexit, there have been several reports in the press of British nationals staying in France beyond 90 days and receiving a fine from border officials due to overstaying. In the worst-case scenario, you could be banned from entering France again for up to 5 years. Therefore, obtaining the necessary visa is one of the first steps to take.
Visas and Residence Permits
In France, there are different types of visas and resident permits with various requirements and durations of stay. Deciding on which one you need may take time. However, once chosen, it’s good to find out the requirements.
To receive your visa, you need certain documents, such as:
- Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid and unexpired.
- Bank statements: You must show sufficient funds to live in France. The sum amount depends on the visa or residency you are applying for.
- Medical Certificate: You must prove that you do not suffer from any illness that may risk the public, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
- Private Health Insurance: You must show proof of private health insurance until your S1 application (EU insurance) is approved.
- Proof of Accommodation
- Other: Depending on which visa you apply for, there might be specific documentation that you may need to submit.
After collecting all your documents, check to see if any need to be translated officially. Then you can proceed to:
- Complete your visa application online.
- Print the visa application confirmation page for your records.
- Book and attend the appointment to provide further information, such as the biometric details.
- Wait for the permit to be posted.
Your visa application must be made between 30-90 days before your travel to France, as it is only possible to apply for a long-stay visa three months before your travel.
Temporary Long Stay Visa
This visa allows you to stay in France for three to six months a year. It's also a great way to test the waters and get a feel for the French way of life before making a more permanent commitment. If you want to retire in France, this is the perfect option for a "not-too-short" but "not-too-long" period.
A significant advantage to this temporary long-stay visa is that you won't be classed as a resident in France. Not being classified as a resident means you are not obliged to complete a French tax return documenting your worldwide income.
The Long Stay Visitor Visa
A long-stay visa is a sticker or stamp placed on your passport by the French Consulate in your home country. This visa allows individuals to live and, in some cases, work in France. The visa is usually issued for one year, but more extended periods can be agreed on. Once you obtain your long-stay visa, you may apply for a Residency Permit in France, called a Carte de Séjour.
French Residence Permit
In France, you must obtain three resident permit cards before applying for the French Nationality. These are official physical cards with your photographs and signatures on them. They usually provide a longer amount of time than a visa and are crucial to staying in France long-term.
- Carte de Séjour Temporaire (Temporary)
- Carte de Séjour Pluriannuelle (Multi-year)
- Carte de Séjour Permanent (Permanent)
- French Nationality
Carte de Séjour Temporaire
The Carte de Sejor Temporaire is valid for one year. You must apply for the Carte de Séjour Temporaire within two months of the expiration date of the long-stay visa. There are specific requirements besides the regular documents like having a passport and health care. These requirements include:
- The application fee is 225 Euros
- 3 or 4 passport photos
- Birth certificate
- Proof of permanent address
- Attending an interview
(Carte de Séjour Pluriannuelle (Multi-year residency permit)
The Carte de Séjour Pluriannuelle is typically valid for four years and has the same procedure as the first Carte de Séjour. You will be asked to show documentation confirming that your status has not been changed again and to attend an appointment at your local prefecture.
This resident permit has multiple categories within this permit that depend on your reason for stay such as:
- Students on a study or course placement.
- Working and being employed by a company in France
- Job search or starting a business in France.
- Married to a French national
Note: Most expats state that the renewal process for their Carte de Séjour is a smoother procedure if their circumstances have stayed the same. However, this may only be the case for some. Preparing and expecting to show the requested documents is essential if your status has changed.
Carte Résident Permanent
The Carte de Résident Permanent is valid for ten years and is renewed as a permanent residence. To apply and obtain this resident permit, you must have lived in France for at least five years, but it is lowered to three years towards your spouse or family members of French nationals.
The procedure is the same as the two Carte de Séjours.
Working in France
Hopefully, you have a job lined up for you in France. If not, you should start job-hunting soon. Unfortunately, finding a job as a foreigner who doesn’t speak French can be challenging. This would limit you to only finding positions that are English-speaking. Despite that, some of the best opportunities for expats who only speak English are in the tourism and hospitality sector and teaching English. For example, newcomers may make a living in a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) role.
UK and France have a double taxation agreement so that you do not have to pay tax on the same income in both countries. If you plan to leave the UK to live abroad permanently or to work full-time for at least one full tax year, you must let HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) know.
For retirees living abroad and classed as UK residents, you may have to pay UK tax on your pension. Remember that the amount you pay depends on your income.
You can also transfer your pensions over to France from the UK. To do this without a significant tax bill, choose a French pension scheme on the HMRC list of qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS).
You can apply for France's excellent healthcare system by obtaining a Carte Vitale, a French social security card. To receive this card, you must register with your local Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) once you have arrived in France.
As the Carte Vitale may not cover certain services or treatments, it is recommended also to have top-up health insurance. Those planning to retire and receive a UK state pension may be entitled to state healthcare in France that the UK pays.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in France?
As France can be one of the most expensive countries in the EU, it's good to be prepared and calculate the living expenses you may encounter.
The average monthly cost of living in France for a single person can be around €1,800. Yet, the area you decide to live in depends on the expenses you will make. For example, living in Paris can make the cost of living around €2,200 per month. Some expenses to think about are rent, utilities, transportation, groceries and entertainment.
Should you Rent or Buy?
Renting and buying in France is a significant decision to make. For those who have decided to stay in France long-term, purchasing a home can be one of your goals. Yet, it's very common for expats to rent.
The renting expenses vary per city. For instance, if we compare the rent for living in Paris to Strasbourg, we see high differences.
If you decide to rent, start looking a few months before and find a long-term rental that fits your needs because the search may be competitive.
As many landlords and real estate agencies are on holiday in August, the best time to look for an apartment is between May and July. If you want to relocate to a university town, September and October can be challenging months for finding a home because this is when students begin their new semester, return to the city, and can take up the majority of available accommodation.
Buying a home can be ideal for you and your plans when you stay long-term. There are several resources available to assist you in finding your dream home such as online platforms, newspapers, and property magazines. Yet, most expats prefer to work with real estate agents. This may work to your advantage since owners may exaggerate the price to a foreign buyer, demanding twice as much as they would to a French person. Employing the services of a local French realtor may help you negotiate a better offer.
The cost of properties in France fluctuates greatly based on the property type and where it is located. Here are some pricing examples:
Whether you decide to rent or buy a home, always keep the purchasing costs in mind. Many other extra costs can quickly accumulate and become unaffordable. Research the locations of the properties available and see what other expats have experienced.
Pros and Cons of Moving to France
Besides the legal processes, it's essential to see what pros and cons you can run into and prepare for them beforehand.
- Slow-Paced Life: In France, workers enjoy leisurely one- or two-hour lunch breaks; most stores close during lunchtime and Sundays. Adjusting to this slower pace feels refreshing, even if you're used to a faster lifestyle. You learn to prioritize what's outside of your work life.
- Many Paid Holidays: France offers numerous paid holidays, including week-long breaks in schools every six or seven weeks, allowing families to spend quality time together.
- Transportation: Most cities have a comprehensive bus, metro or tram system that is reasonably priced.
- Fresh groceries: Every city, town, and village in France has fresh produce markets and local shops selling bread, meat, and cheese. Strict food standards guarantee diverse, nutritious options.
- Quality Education: Some of the top universities in the world are in France. Education is highly valued, and many institutions are offering diverse courses.
- Older Accommodation: Most of the apartments and houses in France are very old and need proper insulation. Finding more modern and fixed-up places can become more expensive.
- Housing tax: All tenants that live in a property must pay an annual French residence tax. The amount you pay depends on the location of the property.
- Cost of living: Expenses can add up, such as groceries, clothes, and entertainment.
- Language Barrier: While some urban areas have English speakers, not all locals do. Learning French language skills, especially for long-term stays, is advisable.
Individuals' experiences vary widely; what might be challenging for one person could be an adventure for another. It's essential to consider your personal preferences and circumstances when deciding whether to live in France.
Hiring a Removal Company
Considering the UK is no longer a member of the EU, the method for relocating your belongings is slightly different than previously. This is why getting documents in order and hiring a company to handle removals to France from the UK is key.
It is reassuring to know that you will be exempt from paying taxes on the items you transport to your new home, provided that you have owned them for at least six months and have brought them with you within 12 months of relocating. However, it is important to note that certain items, such as alcohol or cigarettes, may still be subject to taxation.
Additionally, it is essential to obtain a non-cession certificate, a signed document confirming that you have owned the items you are moving for at least six months. While customs officers may not require a receipt for common home products, it is advisable to have proof of ownership for items of significant value. Also, remember that you may need to present proof of where you will be residing.
Once you have gathered all the necessary documents and compiled a comprehensive list of your belongings, it is time to plan your move. At Gentlevan Removals, we offer various vehicle sizes and relocation options. You can provide a list or fill out a survey to make sure that every item you want to move is taken into account.
Rest assured, we handle all the necessary arrangements, sparing you any concerns. We provide a complete removal service, including packing, home removals, and secure storage solutions. If you are ready to start your move to France from the UK, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!
To conclude, moving to France from the UK post-Brexit requires careful preparation and understanding your needs is critical to successfully relocating to France. Obtaining visas and residence permits involves detailed paperwork and adherence to regulations. As well as, understanding tax obligations, healthcare options, and the pros and cons of renting versus buying is essential. Plus, hiring a reliable removal company like Gentlevan Removals can ease transporting your belongings.
Despite the challenges, embracing France's slower pace and cultural richness can enhance your experience. With the proper preparations, your move can be a fulfilling adventure.