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With the discussions on a Brexit deal still on going and up in the air, many British passport holders resident in neighbouring France are speedily trying to exchange UK drivers licences and applying for French residency and the carte de séjour. How might the deal affect British citizens who have recently relocated to France or have been in France a very long time? Well, truthfully nobody knows yet. Hence why some have decided to start the administrative task of preparing for a worst case scenario and applying for various bits of French paperwork.

The drivers licence exchange between EU members states is relatively straightforward and if you are currently driving on a valid UK EU licence then you can swop it for a French EU licence. In fact, there is no obligation to do so unless you have committed a driving offense or your current EU licence is due to expire. However, to safeguard their EU driving licence and to avoid any possibility of having to sit and pass a French driving test (not an easy option), many British licence holders have now swopped their UK licence for a French one. The process can take a few months as all applicants in France (except Paris) go through the CERT EPE-PCI office in Nantes. It’s a postal application without a fee so it is essentially free-of-charge but requires passport photos, copies of various documents and two Cerfa forms to be completed. Applicants must also have been resident for at least 185 days in France at the time of the application.

A surge in demands for French residency permits has been noticed; you may hear these permits being referred to as Carte de Séjour (CdS), a physical card which hasn’t been required by passport holders of EU member states thanks to the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, and the subsequent EU directives which followed that Treaty. I personally remember going into the Préfecture in Lyon in 2000 to apply for my CdS as an EU citizen, but when I returned to France in 2010 I no longer needed one as I had the same rights to work and live as any French citizen in France, all of us being EU citizens.

British passport holders are now asking themselves, “Should I go get myself a CdS, especially if I will no longer be an EU citizen post Brexit?” Many are doing exactly that, especially those who have established their homes in France, have bought property, intend to retire in France and have children who have only ever lived in France! A point to note is: Right of permanent residence: Union citizens acquire this right after a five-year period of uninterrupted legal residence, provided that an expulsion decision has not been enforced against them. This right is no longer subject to any conditions. The same rule applies to family members who are not nationals of a Member State and who have lived with a Union citizen for five years. The right of permanent residence is lost only in the event of more than two successive years’ absence from the host Member State.+

Applications for residency should be made through the local préfectures in France.
For personal assistance with any of these matters please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The information in this blog post was up-to-date at the time of publishing 10 October 2018.

+ reference: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/147/free-movement-of-persons


aislinn delmotte

Aislinn Delmotte runs Settling Here, a company which aims to provide practical help and advice to individuals, couples and families relocating to or indeed already living in the Pays de Gex, a region where some of the customs are similar to those in neighbouring Switzerland, but where many aspects of living are entirely different.

Settling Here aims to bridge the gap between France and Switzerland and provide information which is specific not only to France but to the Pays de Gex region too. Settling Here provides individual assistance to clients and runs regular information sessions, bringing along regional experts to discuss certain topics which include, for example: taxes, house purchase and selling, health care in France, driving laws: job hunting in Switzerland and cross-border issues.

Settling Here
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