Citizenship and financial tips for UK expats in France

Published:  4 Aug at 6 PM
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Although the final impact of Brexit on UK expats in France is not yet clear, it’s best to take all the precautions you can to ensure your right to remain.

Preparing well in advance for the worst scenario whilst hoping for the best is simply common sense, given the uncharted post-Brexit waters. The first step in ensuring you are able to stay in France is to apply for French citizenship, as there’s no indication as yet of any firm plan to extend the right to remain to British citizens, however long they’ve lived in France. French citizenship is available in addition to British citizenship, so there’s no need to give up entirely on the UK.

There’s also the long-term French Residence Card, but it’s only issued to EU citizens, so may have a very limited shelf life for UK expats. Dual citizenship, however, is for life. Residence in the country for five years is mandatory, as is proof of the ability to support yourself from income, savings or a combination of the two. Proof of savings and income in French or British banks is required. You’ll need to take a test proving you have integrated into the French community, with this process taking up to two years to complete.

Your UK state pension will still be paid and, hopefully, the triple lock increase will still be in place, although this is ultimately up to the UK government. Remember that pensioners in many non-EU countries receive no further increases after they leave the UK, although it’s unlikely this will be brought in for expats living in France. Being non-resident in the UK for tax purposes will save a good deal of hassle as well as money, preventing being taxed twice on income and investments. Clarifying your tax position is important and frustrating, but will save you money in the long run. Remember that British lower rate tax is 20 per cent, whilst the French equivalent is only 14 per cent.

You’ll need to limit your visits to the UK to less than 90 days in any one year in order to preserve your non-residency, and reducing all ties to the UK is the best idea. Giving up any property held in the UK and ensuring your partner or spouse isn’t tax resident is the way to go to avoid being hassled by the British taxman.
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