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Moving from the UK to France: 9 Things You Need to Know

Did you know that as a UK citizen you will need to register as a permanent resident in France before the 31st of December 2020? There is a lot of information UK nationals will need to digest before relocating to France during the Brexit transition period. InterNations GO! has all information you need on how to move your belongings, find a home, apply for a visa or work permit in France, and more.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Even with Brexit looming over your head, you will be able to live and work in France as a UK national. You will also be able to use your EHIC card to access healthcare; however, once you become a resident and plan to stay long-term, you should register with the public healthcare system.

While France can be an expensive country to live in, UK expats coming from London might be pleasantly surprised to learn that Paris is actually cheaper in terms of cost of living. The only downside to this, salaries are also lower. According to the InterNations Expat Insider Survey, expats in France struggle with a lack of career prospects if you don’t speak the language, and low gross salaries in comparison to the high costs of living.

Read on to find everything you need to know if you want to exit before Brexit, and call France your new home.

1. Do you need a French Visa and Work Permit?

Before Brexit was even on the horizon, UK nationals did not require a visa or a work permit to enter or  work in France. They were free to move within the EU/EEA with just a valid passport or identity card. Accompanying family members were also allowed to join them.

Yet, with the UK leaving the EU by the end of 2020, rules regarding the right of movement will change. How? This is still up for debate. It could happen that UK citizens will need to get visas and work permits to live and work in the EU/EEA like other third country nationals.

So far, the only official rules in place are the ones regarding the transition period that will end by December 31st, 2020.

Transition Period

According to the British Government, “British people keep most of their rights, including the right to move to an EU country” until the end of the transition period. That means, expats wanting to relocate to France can and should do so now.

2. What you should do before Brexit?

a. Register as a French Resident

If you are relocating to France before the end of the transition period, it is important that you register as a French resident before the 31st of December 2020. This will allow you to stay in France after the transition periods ends.

Expats will have to pay a visit to their local French consulate to obtain a Certificate de Changement de Résidence (Change of Residence Certificate), outlining their change of residency from the UK to France.

b. Register for French Healthcare

During the transition period, UK expats can continue to use their European Health Card (EHIC) just as before Brexit. However, they have to register for healthcare as a resident in France at their local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) in order to get a French social security and healthcare card.

Public healthcare in France (PUMA) will kick in three months after having registered as a resident. In the meantime, you can use your EHIC card to access healthcare or supplement with a private health insurance.

If you need more information on how to access French Healthcare, read our full guide here.

3. How to Move your belongings to France?

UK nationals moving personal items to France are entitled to import any new goods into the country duty-free.This is until the end of the transition period. How Brexit will affect customs for your household goods, is unclear. It can happen that you will need to pay import tax on private goods after the 31st of December 2020.

Before the end of the transition period, you should still be exempt from paying customs. However, it is advisable for expats to bring along any sales receipts.

4. How to find a home in France?

UK nationals relocating to France will get a lot more for their money when it comes to renting in France. Paris rental prices might be cheaper than in London. However, Paris ranked one of the most unaffordable major cities in the world. Property prices have doubled in the last fifteen years. An unfurnished one-bedroom apartment in the center costs around 1,200 EUR (1,315 USD). If you are on a budget, you might want to consider renting outside of Paris or on the outskirts as rent prices drop significantly once outside of the city center.

Properties in France are typically unfurnished but come with kitchen fixtures and white goods. That is, becauseFrench law distinguishes between long and short-term rentals. Unfurnished apartments are classified as long-term tenancies, with a standard contract period of three years. Short-term rentals of less than a year are considered holiday rentals and are fully furnished and more expensive.

You better start your search early, as the housing market is tough. If you need help, do not hesitate to contactour Home Finding experts at InterNations GO! We know the local housing markets like the back of our hands and help you find the right option for you.

If you decide to look on your own, start by browsing through the most popular online rental platforms Particulier à Particulier (PaP), Se Loger, Le Bon Coin.

5. What about taxes and finances in France?

The UK has an international tax treaty (convention fiscale internationale) with France, which means that you will not have to pay tax on your income in both the UK and France

So far, any double taxation agreements between the UK and France have not been changed and will stay in place for the tax year of 2020.

Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in France have not changed. Beware that if you have assets in the UK or any other country, you will need to declare everything in your annual tax return.

If you want to learn more about taxes in France, read our Working in France guide.

6. Does your UK driver’s license work in France?

If your driver’s license was issued in the UK, and you have not lost any points or have any other restrictions on it, you will be able to use it while living in France. This rule is still valid during the Brexit transition period.

If you need to know more about driving in France, read up on our extended guide.

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7. How high is the cost of living in France compared to the UK?

When budgeting for France, the first thing you need to think about are immediate living expenses. Rent, utilities, food, transportation, education, etc. In general, France is cheaper than the UK but that depends on where you lived before and where you are moving to now. In both the UK and France, living in small towns or rural areas is much cheaper compared to big cities such as Paris or London. Also, salaries vary greatly depending on where you live. According to Statista most of French citizens earned between 1,000 and 3,000 EUR (1,200 and 3,500 USD) gross per month. In the UK, most workers take home an average monthly salary of 3,000 GBP (4,000 USD).

If you take a look at the capitals, you will quickly realize life has a heavy price tag in both London and Paris. The French capital was ranked 5th most expensive city in the world in the 2020 Economist Intelligence Unit survey. According to Numbeo, expats would need around 4,800 EUR (5,800 USD) in Paris to maintain the same standard of life they had in London. The problem here is that you do not earn as much as in London, where the average annual salary is about 40,000 GBP (52,000 USD). In Paris, however, the average annual salary is 46,000 EUR (50,000 USD), with 2,170 EUR (2,380 USD) being the average monthly net income after taxes. And the cost of living in Paris for a single person is around 2,500 EUR (3,000 USD). This includes rent, utilities, mobile phone plan, transportation, and groceries.

8. Do you need to learn French?

Relocating to France before knowing the language will make it very hard to integrate into society and find a job. This is also reflected in the 2019 InterNations Expat Insider Survey conducted in Paris. The main reason expats do not warm up to the city of love, is that it is hard to get settled there. Most French people know English, but they feel more comfortable speaking in their native language. As someone who is trying to establish a new home there you should not rely too much on English to get by.

9. Are you ready for long lunches and lots of free time?

If you’re moving to France from the UK, hearing “35-hour workweek plus five weeks of paid vacation”, might throw you off, if you are used to working more than 40-hours per week with only a two-week annual holiday. What to do with so much free time? Well, the French like to take long lunches, go for apéro (after-work drinks), and have the occasional week off at the Côte d’Azur. You will find great things to fill your valuable time with.

If you want to know about the shortened work week in France, read our Working in France guide.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: September 11, 2020
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