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  • Writer's pictureRIFT Remain in France


Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Many of our members received their WA RP when they had not yet lived in France for 5 years. They therefore received a card which is valid for 5 years and most have an expiry date during 2025 and 2026.

The WA gives those who had lived in France for under 5 years at the time of application, the right to remain living here and to build up the requisite 5 years of residence in order to obtain permanent rights.

Article 16 of the WA sets out this right.

Click here for a link to the WA in both French and English.

We often receive Facebook posts or emails from people wanting to know how or when they can apply for their ‘permanent’ card or asking what their current status is, given that their current card doesn’t expire for another couple of years.


We had a meeting with the EU commission in November 2022 and discussed the renewal of 5 year cards with them and the automatic acquisition of permanent rights.

Just prior to the meeting the UK High Court had ruled that under the WA, EU citizens living in the UK who had Pre-Settled Status (5 year cards in effect) did not lose their permanent rights if they failed to apply for full Settled Status – in effect, those who had Pre-Settled Status automatically acquired Settled Status once they had lived in the UK for 5 years.

Our notes from our meeting with the EU commission say

‘….according to their exchanges with Member States, the Commission expects their interpretation (of the WA) to be complied with. [That being that] Non-permanent status does not expire but is automatically upgraded after 5 years of continuous residence.’

As above, Article 16 gives the right to live in France in order to acquire permanent rights. However, please note Article 15 (and 16) set out that one must have been living, and continue to live, in France in accordance with the Freedom of Movement Directive 2004/38/EC.

‘Resided legally’ = living in accordance with Directive 2004/38/EC

Therefore, assuming you have continued to live in France, in accordance with Directive 2004/38/EC, you will acquire/have acquired permanent rights on the 5th anniversary of the start of your residency in France.

NB – You will have input the date you became a resident on the WA RP application form. It is not the start date of your WA RP


Under the directive detailed above, those with under 5 years of residence can leave France for up to 6 months per year (the year runs from your first day of residence NOT January 1) except in exceptional circumstances such as

pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting in another Member State or a third country.

Our notes from our meeting with the EU commission say

‘France may check if absences have been exceeded (but it is unclear how). To assess continuous residence, absences should be counted strictly for non-permanent residents’


If you hold a 5 year card and have passed your 5 year anniversary of living in France, you have acquired permanent rights.

You do not need to renew or exchange your card until nearer the expiry date in order to confirm the rights.

There may be a few limited circumstances when one must hold a permanent card. If this is the case, then you should contact your préfecture and explain the situation and ask them how to renew your card.

The vast majority of 5 year card holders will not need to renew their cards until approx. 3 months before their expiry date.

NB A card indicating you have permanent rights is valid for 10 years and will need to be renewed on expiry – it is only the card that expires, not the rights


Our understanding is that an online system is being developed to deal with the renewal of 5 year cards (and one assumes 10 year cards in due course) and in our meetings with the British Embassy, who liaise regularly with the Ministry of the Interior, we have offered to be guinea pigs for the new system.

Until we know more about the system, we can’t offer any further details.

We will publish an update as soon as we have one.

If you would like to participate in our survey of expiry dates, please click this link

RIFT continue to liaise regularly with the British embassy and other relevant bodies and will keep you informed of any information or updates we receive.

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Oct 20, 2023

"There may be a few limited circumstances when one must hold a permanent card. If this is the case, then you should contact your préfecture and explain the situation and ask them how to renew your card."

One of those limited circumstances is, presumably, when a person reaches their five-year anniversary and a few months later chooses to return to the UK for two or three years before coming back again to live in France (or not, as they case may be).

That situation threatens to become very messy, not least at the border, if one has only the five-year CdS (that may also have expired in the meantime).

I hope the French government gets on with bringing the new…

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