Loughborough Alumni


23 Oct 2020

Countdown for being legally resident in France post-Brexit

Alumni Advisory Board member Margaret Eyres has recently moved to France from the UK. Here she discusses becoming a legal resident in a post-Brexit world, applications, driving licences and more. 

"A year ago, I had no inkling that my employer would ask me to move to our Paris office in 2020, on a permanent local contract.

As a Loughborough alumna, I thought I would share some tips and my personal experience on important administrative tasks to be completed as a Brit, notably in the remainder of the Brexit transition period. It would be good to compare notes with alumni in France and other EU countries as there does not always seem to be detailed practical guidance for this “once in a lifetime” learning curve of proving you remain a legal resident in the EU once the impact of Brexit really kicks in on 1 January 2021. 

After some Covid related delays, the French Authorities launched their online application form for Brits to apply for a Withdrawal Agreement Residence Permit (“WARP”) on 19 October 2020. Applications can still be made through to 31 June 2021 but it will be key to prove you have been legally resident in France up to 31 December 2020. From 1 October 2021, every Brit living in France legally will need to carry this new residence permit.

Thanks to an article in the Financial Times in August, I started questioning whether I actually had the right type of tenancy agreement to be deemed legally resident. Since June I had been in a lovely Montmartre studio with a garden, and was living the dream there and had no desire to move. After some research I discovered that there were four legal types of furnished flat tenancy agreements in Paris.

However, the agencies dealing with the expat community were not necessarily advising you to be sure to take one that complied with the 23 November 2018 ELAN law which covers “principal residences” that happen to be subject to rent controls (to which my previous studio was not). I went on a site, PAP.fr, where you can deal directly with private landlords. I seem to have hit really lucky and now have a fully furnished, significantly larger flat in the elegant Nouvelle Athenes district of the 9th arrondissement at a cheaper price and without agency fees. And to top it all, by having a “principal residence” contract, I can now demonstrate that I have gas and electricity bills in my own name, which should all help my proving in the WARP application that in 2020 I was legally resident in France. 

Before the year-end I also have to exchange my British driving licence for a French one if I want to avoid being forced to take the French driving licence test in order to stay a legal driver whilst living in France. The application system requires you to submit your original licence along with a letter from the DVLA, both translated into French by an authorised translator. A Scottish born translator in Limoges kindly tipped me off to ring the DVLA on 0300 7906801 and to ask for an original signed “Confirmation of GB Driving Licence Details” document. Court authorised translators can be found by googling “Experts Cour de Cassation [desired city]”. You then look up the “H.2.1” section of any list of experts under the French judicial system and French officialdom cannot argue you picked an unauthorised translator. I have been quoted EUR60 for the two documents to be translated with the right certifications.

I’ll write again in a few weeks when I have mastered my online application form for the “WARP”. The initial reports of the new system in expat websites “thelocal.fr”, “connexionfrance.com” and “remaininfrance.fr” indicate the French authorities have tried to make it a relatively simple system. If intending to travel in 2021, any Brit living in France may wish to ensure they have submitted their application before leaving the country and so can keep the official acknowledgment with their passport to facilitate re-entry."

Thank you to Margaret for sharing her tips. If you have a similar story to share or would like to exchange thoughts with Margaret, please get in touch

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