BREXIT: For Working Brits in France

SmartSteps regularly recruits bilingual personnel including English mother tongues, many British, for international companies. This article discusses Brexit and its implications.

As Brits and EU citizens, Freedom of Movement (“FOM”) allowed us to live and work in any EU country; work as an employee or be self-employed; run a business; provide services cross-border and there was also mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Brexit spells the end of the above! Before reading further, please take into account the following:

  1. Brexit evolves constantly;
  2. There are still many “grey” areas;
  3. Many outcomes depend on what will be negotiated between the EU and the UK;
  4. We try to update this article regularly;
  5. All Brits in France are in different personal circumstances, we advise that you research your own unique situation (information links are at the end of this document)


  • The UK left the EU the 31/01/2020. 
  • The UK/EU is now in the Transition Period ending 31/12/2020.
    • Freedom of movement continues as does reciprocal health care. British citizens seeking work in France will be able to do so as they have done so for the past 24 years!
    • Parliament may still extend the transition period date and they have up until 01/07/2020 to do so. 
    • A no-deal cliff edge on 31/12/2020 refers to trade, security, defence cooperation. The above will affect those whose work relates to any of the aforementioned issues.
  • Brits in France have had their rights enshrined in the Withdrawal Agreement, an international treaty, which came into force 01/02/2020.  It means Brits currently living and/or working in France have the automatic right of residence, to work, to buy a home, to run a business and social security rights.
  • Post-transition period (31/12/2020) it will be more difficult for those wishing to work in France with the exception of the highly skilled who can apply for Blue Cards! Applying for a Blue Card a work and residence permit for non-EU/EEA nationals Apply for the EU Blue Card. There are minimum earning requirements currently 53,836.50€ per annum, the employment contract must be for a minimum of one year, you must have at least a university degree or specialised college studies equal to no less than 3 years or at least 5 years relevant work experience.
    • If you earn less than the 53,836.50€ minimum earnings required for a Blue Card you can be sponsored BUT your future employer must justify: 1) having advertised the role in France, 2) their reasons for employing a non-French citizen and 3) fees must be paid. This a time-consuming process and most employers don’t want to go through this process. 
  • Post transition period much will change: reciprocal health care for new arrivals, health insurance, driving (must have a French licence for those living in France), the right to work and study in the EU and participation or not in ERASMUS, mutual recognition of qualifications (for new arrivals to France), loss of onward freedom of movement within the EU (residence cards cover your host country, i.e. France), visas for stays superior to 90 days, …). Frontier workers can continue to live for example in France and work in Switzerland. You will be able to apply for a document from the country you work in certifying you are a frontier worker. Source British in Europe. Any future spouse or partner who is not an EU citizen will have to apply as a third country citizen. Equally British nationals returning to the UK with their non-British partners will have to comply with UK national immigration law. Brits in EU have lost all voting rights (even those in France pre-Brexit) and those outside the UK for more than 15 years are not be able to vote anywhere!
  • Recognition of professional qualifications. Normally for those already in France your qualification will continue to be recognised but only in the country where the decision was issued (normally France). Idem for those covered by the EU automatic recognition system (doctors, nurses, …) recognition will only apply in your host country (or country where the decision was issued if frontier worker). If you have not applied for recognition of your professional qualifications you should do so before the end of the transition period applying for recognition of diplomas
  • Now the UK has left the EU, France has introduced a new system of residence cards (carte de résidence). British citizens have until June 2021 to apply for the new card.  Residency permits – French Gov Information site. The card you are issued will depend on your personal situation:
    • British living in France for 5 years or more
    • British living in France for less than 5 years falling under one of the below categories: salaried with a permanent contract, salaried with fixed-term contract, self- employed, during the last year you either graduated in France or worked for at least 3 months and now seek work or are creating a business, students, family members of UK nationals qualifying for one of the above categories and UK nationals living in France for less than 5 years who do not fulfil any of the above categories.
  • Apart from residency/work permits it is also important to research: the validity of your passport, exchanging your UK driving licence for a French one (normally needs to be done no later than after 1 year of residence in France), ensuring your professional qualifications will be recognised post-Brexit, insurance, (pet owners) contacting your vet at least 4 months before travel and lastly checking out rules for non-British family members if you decide to return to live in the UK.
  • The British Embassy, Paris regularly holds events all over France to answer Brexit questions. Events begin with a brief introduction and then the floor opens for questions. British passport holders can attend and it is FOC. Events are advertised on EventBrite and in “The Local”. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to badger the British Embassy in Paris for answers to your questions. Having attended a few of their information meetings, it’s amazing the range of very different and sometimes complicated situations applying to Brits in France!

Useful links:

  1. “Applying for French nationality” is a Facebook help group.
  2. Another interesting take for those applying for those thinking of applying for nationality. Ten reasons to become French
  3. RIFT  raises awareness of the potential effects of Brexit (they have a chapter for most EU countries). RIFT campaigns for the preservation of all current rights, it is pro-Europe, against Brexit and is a forum where members support each other through their community.
  4.  UK Government Living in France Guide
  6. French Government Brexit page for UK citizens
  7. British in France
  8. Britannique, je réside en France
  9. No deal – quelles conséquences pour les entreprises françaises.
  10. Un outil d’auto-diagnostic sur le Brexit à destination des entreprises
  11. The Connexion has lots of very helpful articles too The WA and “No Deal” Trade Agreement


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