Buying in France post-Brexit

Buying in France post-Brexit

You’re on Forever France so it’s probably safe to say that you have at least toyed with the idea of moving to France.

It’s a common dream, for some it’s France, for other it’s Spain, Portugal or Greece.

Many people dream for the day when they can finally move abroad to start a new life.

If you are looking at making that move after retiring, or much sooner, Brexit has very likely impacted your plans.

However, despite the certainty that Brexit will happen, the exact details still remain somewhat unknown.

Unfortunately, confusion reigns for UK residents who are thinking about buying a property in France.

Brexit finally began on January 31st, 2020, and the transition period is scheduled to last through to the end of the year, if not for longer considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But with a large number of British expats currently living in France, and many more looking to purchase either holiday or full-time property there, a lot of questions have been raised.

Luckily Brexit doesn’t have to put an end to your goal of moving to France, especially if you’re able to act sooner rather than later.

Also even if you have had to wait, there are still post-Brexit options to consider.

The situation may change over the course of this year but here’s what we know so far.

Is the Brexit Transition Period set?

There is a possibility that the transition period will be extended, which could give you a bit more breathing space when it comes to making moving-related decisions.

The original plan was for the transition period to last for two years. However, despite the transition period being shortened there is, following a tumultuous globally, a chance that this could be extended.

Are Brits still buying in France?

As you’d imagine there has been a slow down in people looking to buy holiday homes in France as people take a view on the long-term options.

However, those for looking for full-time residences have gone up as people look to make the move to Europe before the final end of Brexit negotiations.

Should I buy before or after Brexit?

Unfortunately, the time it takes to buy a property in France is similar to the time it will take to for the Brexit transition period to be completed.

If you are looking to buy a property before then it would be best to act quickly.

Should you manage to move to France before the end of 2020, you’ll take your EU rights with you, which includes healthcare, pension and residence rights.

What if I can’t move in time?

For some it won’t be feasible to move before the predicted end of the transition period.

Whilst the process will be different for non-EU buyers owning property in France will continue to be legal, though, since French property ownership is under the country’s control and not the EU’s.

Other things to consider

There are several factors to consider should you move before, or indeed after the. Brexit transition period.

Here’s some of them.

Driving

Should you become a resident in France before the transition, you can switch your UK license over to a French permit.

Keep in mind that there is a backlog and as such even if you request the change now, you may not be approved for several months.

This could result in you going through the process after the transition – and at present, it remains unclear what this may entail.

It’s likely that you will need an international driving permit to drive in France, which you can get over-the-counter from a British post office.

Health insurance

As with many things at present it continues to be unclear if UK citizens will continue to be able to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) post-transition.

Should that not be the case you may need to purchase travel health insurance when visiting France, even if you’ll be living there for part of the year.

Mortgages and rental property tax

It’s possible that non-EU residents will not be allowed to borrow as much for a French mortgage as EU residents.

However depending on the final agreement you may find yourself subject to double taxation on rental property.

Pensions

If you’re already retired, you will receive your pension in France regardlessof when you move, additionally, you could also qualify for additional French benefits.

However if you move post-transition, your pension may be up-rated each year. There hasn’t been a final decision made, but it’s a possibility.

Visas and Residencies

While it’s still unclear exactly how UK residents will be treated after Brexit, non-EU citizens have to get a long-stay visa before moving to France.

The visa must be validated as a residency permit within three months of arriving in the country.

For right to residence, you will not need a visa if you stay in France for less than half a year – 90 out of every 180 days.

That means you can stay in France for approximately three months at a time before returning home for approximately three months.

Good news for those buying a holiday home in France, before or after the transition.

Becoming a resident

If you are looking to become a resident of France you must meet one of the following requirements:

● Live as a resident of France for five years
● Live as a resident of France for two years, and postgraduate studies were completed at a French university
● Be married to a French resident for four years
● Have children who were born in France – you can apply for citizenship when they turn 13

However, moving to France before the end of the transition and retaining your EU rights is the simpler, more dependable option.

What about British Expats who already live in France?

According to the Withdrawal Agreement, British subjects who are lawful residents of another EU country, are allowed to stay where they are.

That will be the same for those who move from the UK to France before the end of the transition.

However, it’s important to understand that being a legal resident of France is different from simply remaining in France for an extended period of time.

To be considered an official resident of France, certain criteria must be met. For example, you have to prove that you’re financially self-sufficient.

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