Brexit, Europe, France, UK

BREXIT For working Brits in France

SmartSteps regularly recruits bilingual personnel including English mother tongues, many British, for international companies in France (“FR”). Here we discuss Brexit and the implications.

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

  1. A no-deal cliff edge on 31/12/20 refers to an EU/UK trade deal, Brexit trade negotiations evolve constantly;
  2. The UK/EU Transition Period* ends 31/12/20 during which time FOM continues as does reciprocal health care;
  3. We advise all Brits in FR to research their own unique situation (see information links at end document); 
  4. We update this article regularly.


  • 19/10/2020 – The French government website for British people to apply for residency cards is up and running Brexit – Brexit – Demande de Titre de Séjour
  • 29/06/2020 – The launch of a new French government website for British people to apply for residency cards under the withdrawal agreement initially planned for 1st July has been delayed until 1st October due to Covid-19. All British living in France will be required to have a “withdrawal agreement” residence permit as of 01/07/2021. 
  • 12/06/2020 – The UK government formally confirmed to the EU that they will not seek an extension to the transition period.
  • 01/02/2020 – Brits in FR had their rights enshrined in the Withdrawal Agreement (“WA”), an international treaty.  It means Brits currently living and/or working in FR have the right of residence, to work, to buy a home, to run a business and social security rights.
  • 31/01/2020 – The UK left the EU. 
  • Post-Transition Period ending 31/12/20
    • It will be more difficult for those wishing to work in FR 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. Minimum earning requirements are set at 53,836.50€ p.a., the employment contract must be for at least 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 FR, 2) their reasons for employing a non-EU citizen and 3) fees must be paid. This a time-consuming process and most employers don’t want to go through this process. 
    • Much will change: reciprocal health care for new arrivals, health insurance, driving licences/check car insurance outside EU, the right to work and study in the EU and participation or not in ERASMUS, mutual recognition of qualifications (for new arrivals to FR), loss of onward FOM within the EU (residence cards cover your host country only), visas for stays superior to 90 days, …). Frontier workers can continue to live for example in FR 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. Any future spouse/partner and non-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 EU voting rights (the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal and EU elections) and those outside the UK for more than 15 years are not able to vote anywhere!
    • Recognition of professional qualifications. For those already in FR your qualification will continue to be recognised but only in FR, where the decision was issued. 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, FR will introduce a new system of residence cards. British citizens have until end 2020 to apply and the FR government gives itself until 30/06/21 to process all applications.  Residency permits – French Gov Information site. The card you are issued will depend on your personal situation.
      • All UK nationals legally resident in FR on 31/12/2020 will need to apply for a new residence permit under the WA.
      • If you already have a residency card you will be able to exchange it (free of charge) for the new WA residence permit.
      • If you do not already have a card you need not take action now. You should wait until the FR online application platform is working.  It will be online from October 2020.
      • The new cards for those covered by the WA agreement will include the words “accord de retrait“.
    • Apart from residency/work permits it is also important to research: the validity of your passport, exchanging your UK driving licence for a FR one (normally needs to be done no later than after 1 year of residence in FR), 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. For French travel companions to the UK: border control will no longer accept EU/French ID cards so it will back to passports from 01/01/2021.
  • Staff at the British Embassy, Paris are currently working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. You can contact them via email or telephone. 

Useful links:

  1. “Applying for French nationality”, a Facebook help group.
  2. The EU-UK Friendship Group
  3. France rights
  4. Ten reasons to become French
  5. RIFT
  6. British in Europe
  7. UK Government Living in France Guide
  8. UK Government Guidance to Living in Europe – 3 July 2020
  9. French Government Brexit page for UK citizens
  10. British in France
  11. Britannique, je réside en France
  12. No deal – quelles conséquences pour les entreprises françaises?
  13. Un outil d’auto-diagnostic sur le Brexit à destination des entreprises
  14. The Connexion – French News and View in English
  15. French version of the Withdrawal Agreement
  16. RIFT Report in PDF
  17. Your Europe: Help and Advice for EU citizens and their family
  18. EU publications on Brexit



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