Living Legally in France
Our view was that protecting our citizens' right would best have been achieved by the UK remaining in the EU and we wanted to see Article 50 revoked.
Now that the UK has left the EU under the terms of a Withdrawal Agreement (WA), some of our rights are protected. The WA protects UK citizens living in France on 31 December 2020 as long as they are living in accordance with EU Freedom of movement criteria.
France - unlike other EU27 countries - doesn't currently require EU citizens to register for residence. It has been relatively easy to fall through the cracks, until now.
Why do I need to know?
In order to receive the protection of the WA, you must have been legally resident in France before cut-off date - end of the Transition Period - currently 31 December 2020. To be living legally, you must be exercising your rights to Freedom of movement correctly.
Do you meet the conditions to be legally exercising your free movement rights in France?
All EU citizens (and those wishing to be protected by the WA) have to meet certain conditions during their first 5 years in another EU state in order to be considered legally resident. After 5 years you acquire permanent residence status. How do you prove permanent residence?
(a) workers or self-employed persons in the host Member State; or
(b) have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State during their period of residence and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the host Member State; or
(c) are enrolled at a private or public establishment, accredited or financed by the host Member State on the basis of its legislation or administrative practice, for the principal purpose of following a course of study, including vocational training; and have comprehensive sickness insurance cover in the host Member State and assure the relevant national authority, by means of a declaration or by such equivalent means as they may choose, that they have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State during their period of residence; or
(d) are family members accompanying or joining a Union citizen who satisfies the conditions referred to in points (a), (b) or (c).
In other words, to get a carte de séjour permanent, you have to produce all the evidence to show that you've met the conditions for 5 years - even if you've been living in France for 20 years.
Note the requirement for health cover. It seems that many have used an EHIC on arrival in France but technically this is only for visits as a tourist and not as a resident. It is not a fast process to join the medical sysem and it can be accessed by
employment or self employment;
or a UK issued S1 form if you’re in receipt of a state pension or those that work in the UK, and their dependants; or
through the French universal health coverage system known as PUMa (Protection Universelle Maladie).
All legal residents may access PUMa.
Taxes are what we pay for civilised society
If you live in France you must get to grips with French tax forms. Every resident needs to complete a tax declaration annually following which you will be given an Avis d'impôts. Some get a nice surprise of a bill and others a refund! They don't chase you to file your taxes so you need to know it's something that needs doing. Don't forget to declare foreign bank accounts unless you like big fines. The Avis you get back will be one of the most precious items to add to your residence dossier. The French fiscal (tax) year runs from January to December. You will usually need to make your tax declaration in the May of the following year.