Expats in France can legally apply for permanent residency card

Published:  19 Dec at 6 PM
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As the uncertainty of the fate of UK expats in the EU continues, those living in France may have an advantage due to the Carte de Sejour UE - sejours permanente.

Although the thought of tackling French bureaucracy may strike terror into the hearts of many UK expats, there’s one way to avoid being on the first boat out after the Brexit divorce is finalised. EU citizens who’ve lived in France for more than five years may legally apply for the Carte de Sejour UE – sejours permanent which, as its name suggests, gives the right to remain. Getting this precious document is a challenge, but it’s not impossible, according to an English reporter working for an expat newspaper in France.

Many expats and even a few local French authorities aren’t aware there are two cards for which EU citizens can apply. The first, the Carte de Sejour, is available after one year’s residency in the country, but the lesser known second card, the Carte de Sejour – sejours permanente, gives what Brexit probably won’t - the right to stay indefinitely, although 10-year renewals are required.

It’s recommended UK expats living and working in France should apply for a residency permit, although retirees will need to show financial stability and possibly private health insurance. Several experts believe the permit may be a useful precaution against a negative Brexit scenario, as having a residency permit at least shows expats’ commitment to the country. As with bureaucracy worldwide, the French version isn’t straightforward but can be negotiated with patience and a little help.

Those deciding to apply for the Carte de Sejour UE – sejours permanente should first phone their local prefecture to check exactly which documents are needed. Photocopies of everything will be required, but you get to keep the originals.The first requirement is a letter stating your request for the card and citing your five years’ uninterrupted residence in France. You'll also need three passport photos, the passport itself, a work contract if you’re employed, a bill showing your French address, your last three pay slips if applicable, and other relevant proof of your five-year residence such as bills with varied dates.

Lastly, your French social security number as on your Carte Vitale will be needed. Self-employed expats will be asked for proof of income, and retirees will need to prove they have sufficient means to support themselves without becoming a ‘burden on the state’. Once you’ve prepared everything, the next step is your local prefecture, remembering to state it’s the ‘ UE - sejours permanente’ card you’re asking for. Keeping your cool and being aware of your rights is a good idea, as is patience!
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