The projet de loi – or draft law – said that some of the requirements will depend on the nature of Brexit and on the treatment of French citizens resident in the UK.
The law stated: “The [French] government will take appropriate measures regarding the situation of UK citizens in France. It will take account of the status the UK gives our citizens on its territory.”
Perhaps most significantly for advisers with clients in France, the bill suggested Britons already resident in France will be deemed to be in an irregular situation and will have to seek legal documents to remain.
It also suggested that UK citizens employed in France by a French employer could be asked to obtain a work permit, potentially to avoid their employer being taken to court and fined for breaching the Code du Travail.
The [French] government will take appropriate measures regarding the situation of UK citizens in France
Among other clauses, the draft legislation said, post-Brexit, UK nationals become third-nation citizens who may be obliged to have a visa to come to France and a carte de séjour – or residency card – to stay.
It said that UK citizens legally resident in France may no longer have automatic access to the French social security system and this may require new legislation to address what they may receive but also what they may be required to contribute. Once again, this may depend on the position of French citizens in the UK.
Blevins Franks business development director Jason Porter said: “This draft legislation will be of interest to both UK nationals thinking of moving to France and those already resident there. Many UK nationals already living in France are residing there on the basis of the EU’s freedom of movement rules.
“If the Brexit negotiations break down, then the UK is likely to be categorised as a ‘third nation’ and, as such, UK individuals will need to apply for residence permits if the intention is to remain beyond three months. The requirements and process here will be roughly the same as applies to nationals from countries such as Australia and South Africa.”
Porter said retirees moving to France would need to provide evidence that they can support themselves.
“For UK nationals retiring to France, it will be necessary to provide documentary evidence of their ability to support themselves (and their family) either by way of income, or to drawdown upon a capital sum, and the fact they have medical coverage – either private or by way of the French state,” he said.
“EU social security regulations would no longer apply, so potentially the Form S1 route to obtaining healthcare provision on the same terms as a French national could be closed.
“For those moving to France for employment, again a visa will be required – French companies already employing Brits in France after a no-deal scenario could be effectively committing a criminal offence, if they do not put in place a working carte de séjour for all their UK national employees, as UK nationals would no longer have the automatic right to work in France.
“In addition, UK nationals would no longer be able to hold certain positions where the requirement is to be an EU/European Economic Area (EEA) national, or hold an EU qualification such as doctors, pharmacists etc.”
The bill also said that British financial institutions may lose their European passport, though it added that because of the “unusual situation” measures may be necessary to avoid delays in financial transfers.
In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority has set out plans for a temporary permissions regime for EU and EEA firms passporting into the UK, and has already noted that this has not been reciprocated by EU states.
The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee has noted the potential for the undermining of insurance and derivative contracts without action by EU states. The draft law signalled its intention to examine the issue and potentially amend French law.
Porter added that much is still subject to negotiation: “The December 2017 EU-UK negotiators agreement, which was updated in the summer of 2018 had already laid out that even if there was agreement between both sides, UK nationals would be required to obtain residency permits should they choose to reside in one of the 27 EU member states beyond three months, and that the qualification criteria would be the same as is laid out in the existing EU rules (and in France), which includes financial self-sufficiency and healthcare provision.
“The more pressing areas of concern once the dust has settled is likely to be around ‘social security co-ordination’, which covers areas such as French state benefit availability, the availability of annual increases to the UK state pension and French healthcare provision.”