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France – Residence and working conditions for UK nationals in the event of a ‘hard Brexit

United Kingdom
Written by
Capstan Avocats, the law firm setting the benchmark for labour law in France.
This article sets out details of the proposed arrangements for UK nationals resident in France in the event of a hard Brexit.

Until Brexit, UK nationals in France benefit from the European legislation protecting the right to reside in another Member State: they are not required to apply for a residence permit to reside in France.

In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, they will have to obtain a residence permit.

However, a Government Order of 6 February 2019 (the ‘Order’) provides for more favorable temporary measures that derogate from the strict regime.

Retention of rights during a transitional period (‘grace period’)

A British national who, at the date of Brexit, was legally residing in France and continues to reside there, is not required to hold a residence permit for a transitional period to be specified by decree (between three months and one year). During this period, he or she shall retain a right of residence, including the right to pursue a professional activity and the resulting social rights from which he or she benefits on the date of Brexit.

Beyond the transitional period

UK nationals residing in France for at least five years: residence card

If requested during the transitional period, UK nationals who have resided in France for at least five years shall automatically obtain a residence permit (valid for ten years and renewable) if they can prove a certain level of resources and if they are covered by health insurance.

UK nationals in France for less than five years: obtaining a residence permit facilitated

If requested during the transitional period, a UK national who has been legally residing in France for less than five years may obtain a residence permit in a simpler manner than under the normal residence permit regime (without having to present a long-stay visa) and in particular:

  • a residence permit for a period of four years for UK employees on permanent contracts;
  • a one-year temporary residence permit for UK employees on fixed-term contracts.


These cards allow the exercise of any salaried professional activity without the holder additionally requiring a work permit.

A UK national who has obtained one of these cards and under these conditions will automatically obtain a residence card when he or has resided in France for at least five years.

Civil servants

UK nationals who are civil servants on the date of entry into force of the Order shall retain this status.

Reciprocity condition

These more favourable measures (in comparison with the common law applicable to nationals of other non-member states) established in favor of UK nationals may be suspended by decree, at the earliest two months after Brexit, if the French Government finds that the United Kingdom has not granted equivalent treatment to French citizens resident in the United Kingdom.