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UK workers and France: a guide to the new rules from 1 January 2021

Written by
Capstan Avocats, the law firm setting the benchmark for labour law in France.
From 1 January 2021, new rules apply to UK nationals in relation to working in and travelling to France. This article addresses some of the key questions for employers.


The date of entry into force of the ETIAS document is given at 2.2 below as 1 January 2021. Since publication of this article, the European Commission has stated that the ETIAS authorisation will enter into force from ‘the end of 2023’. For information on this development, see here and for up-to-date information on the status of the ETIAS system, please consult the EU ETIAS page



1.1 Has any guidance been issued on how UK nationals can obtain settled residence status and permission to work from 1 January 2021 and what proof of residence is needed for current residents to maintain their status?

On 6 February 2019, the French Government issued five orders.

Order n°2019-76 determines the rights of UK citizens continuing to stay in France after Brexit. The main provisions applicable in the event of a no-deal Brexit are as follows:

  • Implementation of a transition period (between three and 12 months as of the Brexit date): at the end of this transition period, UK citizens must be in possession of the appropriate permits allowing them to stay and carry out professional activities in France.
  • UK citizens who have been residing in France for less than five years as of the Brexit date must apply for a permit depending on their status (student, employee, temporary worker, etc.).
  • UK citizens who have been residing in France for at least five years will be entitled to residency card (valid for ten years).


All UK citizens who have been residing in France before 31 December 2020 need to apply for the new residency permit before 1 July 2021 on the following website: Saisine des services de l’État – Contacts-démarches – Démarches – Online residence permit application procedure for British nationals and their family members residing in France or coming to settle in France before 31 December 2020 – Saisine en ligne (

This includes UK citizens:

  • with a European carte de séjour (even if it is marked ‘permanent’, or has no expiry date);
  • without a European carte de séjour (it is currently optional to have one);
  • applying for a second nationality;
  • married to or in a civil partnership with (known as PACSed) EU nationals;
  • who are recently arrived or well established in France.


Each person must make a separate application. Children under 18 do not need to apply, unless they need a residency permit to work or will turn 18 close to the application deadline.

Other UK citizens, who will arrive in France as of 1 January 2021 must apply for a residence permit at the prefecture.


2.1 Do UK employees need a business visa from 1 January 2021?

No, Regulation (EU) 2019/592 of 10 April 2019 exempts UK citizens from the requirement for a Schengen visa. It applies from the day the UK is no longer subject to EU law. UK citizens can enter and stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any rolling 90-day period.

The Schengen exemption applies from 1 January 2021.

UK employees would need to obtain an ETIAS (‘European Travel Information and Authorisation System’) authorisation before travelling. This is an electronic system intended to ensure that visitors are not a threat to the security of the country. It is valid for three years or until the end of validity of the travel document registered during the application.

Long stay:

For longer stays, UK employees should obtain one of the work permits listed in section 3.4 below.

2.2 What documents are needed on arrival for business travel from 1 January 2021?

The ETIAS document as from 1 January 2021. An online application form must be filled out. The application requires a valid passport, answers to background questions (medical conditions, travel to conflict zones, criminal records, etc.) and payment of a EUR 7 fee.

Travel documents (valid passport).


3.1 Do UK nationals need permission to work and stay in France from 1 January 2021? 

UK citizens and their family members who begin working in France prior to 31 December 2020 will not require a work permit. Only those who move to France and start working as of 1 January 2021 will be required to apply for a work permit, with the exception of family members of UK citizens already living in France prior to 31 December 2020.

3.2 If permission to work is needed after 1 January 2021, do any quotas apply to the employment of third-country nationals? 


3.3 If permission to work is needed from 1 January 2021, what categories of permission are commonly granted?         

The work permit may take the form of either a visa or residence permit or a separate document.

Visa / Residence permit:

Documents leading to the automatic granting of work permits:

‘Private and family life’ residence permit;

  • ‘talent’ residence permit (mostly for foreigners with a French diploma and whose annual wage is higher than EUR 36,946.20);
  • ‘posted worker’ residence permit;
  • resident card (for foreign nationals who belong to defined categories: those with French children or a French parent, married to a French national, veteran, refugee, etc.)
  • long-term resident card (French resident for at least five years, among other conditions)


Documents leading to the granting of work permits after approval by the French labour administration (DIRECCTE):

  • ‘employee’ residence permit (for employees with a permanent employment contract);
  • ‘temporary worker’ residence permit (for employees with a fixed-term employment contract);
  • ‘seasonal worker’ residence permit (for employee with seasonal employment contract).


The Government has announced that British nationals currently living in France will be able to obtain these visas and residence permits under simplified conditions. More information should be available in the near future.

Separate work-permit:

If a foreign worker does not have a residence permit or a visa that allows him or her to work, he or she may apply for a temporary work permit. This is issued for a maximum of 12 months, renewable.

3.4 If permission to work or stay is needed from 1 January 2021, how long does the procedure take?    

The processing time is usually four months for visas and residence permits and two months for the separate work permit once the application has been made.

3.5 If permission to work and stay is needed from 1 January 2021, what Government fees are payable?

Visas and resident permits usually cost between EUR 250 and EUR 269. In addition, fees must be paid by the employer:

  • When hiring for between three and 12 months: from EUR 74 to EUR 300 depending on the amount of the wage;
  • When hiring for more than 12 months: 55% of the monthly salary (capped).


Depending on the type of permission requested, the application can involve the fulfilment of certain conditions, which may increase the time required for the procedure (medical examination, conclusion of an employment contract, etc.).


4.1 From what date are third-country nationals entitled to apply for permanent residence? 

The permanent resident card can be obtained by holders of:

  • A resident card granted to foreigners who belong to one of the eight categories defined by law (foreign national with family attachments in France, refugee, veteran, beneficiary of a work-related accident pension, etc.).
  • A long-term EU resident card granted to employees who have lived in France legally and continuously for at least five years.


Both cards are valid for ten years. When they expire, their holder may apply for a permanent resident card.


5.1 What steps could UK nationals take currently to secure their residence and work status?      

  • Applying for an EU residence or permanent residence card as soon as possible.
  • Applying for French nationality. However, no specific procedures exist to facilitate access to French nationality for British citizens.


Applying for a residence permit under simplified conditions reserved for British nationals. In all cases, the request must be justified by one of the grounds of the right of residence: exercise of a professional activity, having sufficient resources, pursuing training or being a family member of a French resident.


Stéphanie Poussou
Senior Associate - France
Capstan Avocats
Anne-Laure Périès
Partner - France
Capstan Avocats