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Bitesize Guide to

1 February 2020 and beyond

Update 2 February 2020

Living in France after Brexit.

On 31 January 2020 the UK left the EU under the terms of a Withdrawal Agreement (WA).

You can read the full text of the WA here

The WA is set out in Articles and we refer to the relevant ones by number below. The section on Citizens Rights begins around p14 – Article 9 onwards.

Several sections (Articles) of the WA set out the future rights for UK citizens. It also finalises a Transition Period (TP) during which the future relationship between the UK and the EU will be negotiated. The TP begun on 01 February 2020 and ends on 31 December 2020 but this date may be extended by agreement.

How are UK citizens, living in France, affected?

UK citizens are no longer EU citizens.

The WA provides protection for UK citizens who are living legally^ in France at the end of the TP, currently 31 December 2020. Protection under the WA continues after the end of the TP for those who qualify. Additionally, the family members* of a UK citizen protected by the WA, are also protected.

What protection does the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) give UK citizens?

Residency Rights

Article 13 (and onwards) sets out residency rights

  • Those who have lived legally in France for a continuous period of 5 years or more at the end of the TP have the right to permanent residence in France. Once acquired, the right of permanent residence shall be lost only through absence from France for a period exceeding 5 consecutive years.

  • Those who are legally resident in France at the end of the TP but who have not been resident for a continuous period of 5 years or more, have the right to accumulate a residency of 5 years after the TP in order to qualify for permanent residence.

On 31 January 2020, the French government published a mise á jour informing UK citizens living in France that a new online system for residency applications will be in place from July 2020. Applications must be made before July 2021.

You will find more information on this French government link (in French only)

It’s worth noting that the WA says

“the host State shall ensure that any administrative procedures for (residency) applications are smooth, transparent and simple, and that any unnecessary administrative burdens are avoided;”

and that

“application forms shall be short, simple, user friendly and adapted to the context of this Agreement; applications made by families at the same time shall be considered together;”

“the document evidencing the status shall be issued free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on citizens or nationals of the host State for the issuing of similar documents;


Healthcare provision for current holders of an S1 will continue as before, with the same arrangements in place. UK citizens not yet in receipt of their UK state pension, where the UK is their competent state (i.e. they will be the state paying their pension) will receive an S1 in due course. Those not qualifying for an S1 can access the French healthcare system via Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa)

Workers’ Rights

Articles 24 and 25 set out that there should be no discrimination against UK citizens protected by the WA and that they are afforded the same employment/self-employment rights as nationals of their host country.


Pensions, Uprating, Aggregation and Exportable benefits

Article 30 deals with social service systems between the UK and the EU post Brexit.

EU Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 is key to this part of the WA. The WA provides that protected people are still entitled to benefit from the reciprocal rights set out in the regulation.

Put in simple terms a protected person will be given equal treatment to an EU citizen. Therefore, current arrangements in place, such as lifetime pension uprating, will continue. Contributions made before and after end date of the TP will be recognised for those covered by the WA.

Voting or standing in French local elections

As of 1 February 2020, UK citizens are no longer EU citizens and therefore have lost their rights to stand or vote in local elections.

If you have specific questions about your situation, join our Facebook group – Remain in France Together (RIFT)

RIFT was set up after the referendum to provide information and support to UK citizens living in France or wishing to live in France

Information correct as of 1 February 2020


^Living in accordance with European Union rules (living legally in France) means having been exercising your right to freedom of movement in accordance with the EU regulations. You can check out the regulations here

*The EU definition of a Family member is as follows: (a) the spouse; (b) legal partner (c) the direct descendants who are under the age of 21 or are dependants and those of the spouse or partner as defined in point (b); (d) the dependent direct relatives in the ascending line and those of the spouse or partner as defined in point (b);

Here are some useful links for further reading.

General guidance from UK government on living in the EU after Brexit


EU parliament guide to citizens rights issues as covered by the WA. This includes some helpful case scenarios


Negotiation document setting out agreement on each of the citizens rights issues


If you decide that you want to move back to the UK, here is a government guide to assist

EU guide to the Withdrawal Agreement

French Government guide regarding new system to be implemented

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