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Immigration was one of the main concerns which sparked Brexit. The UK voted to take back control of its borders and wants to end free circulation and establishment between the UK and the EU27 member states.

The current, pre-Brexit situation for UK nationals and EU nationals is freedom of movement for EU and UK citizens under Art. 45 TFEU, Directive 2004/38/EC. This gives EU citizens and their family members the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states. This means:

  • no visa requirement.
  • no work authorisation requirement.
  • no residency permit requirement.
  • residency permits for third-country dependents.
  • freedom of circulation and establishment under sufficiency condition.

In practical terms, having a valid ID card or passport entitles EU nationals to enter the territory of another member state. For long stays, – more than 3 months – they may also reside in an EU member state subject to certain conditions and limitations (personal resources, healthcare insurance provisions and provided they are not a burden on the social security system) according to their status in the host country. After five years’ continuous residence, EU nationals have the option of obtaining permanent residence status.

After Brexit, both UK nationals in EU member states and EU nationals in the UK will be treated as third-country nationals. Borders will be back between the UK and the EU.

Key contacts

Haiyan Cai
Legal adviser/Head of immigration
T +33 1 47 38 56 49

France – contingency measures


France has identified 152,000 UK nationals as residents in French territory.

The milestone dates shown in the table apply.

France – contingency measures

Citoyen Union européenne

Under the withdrawal deal, the same conditions would apply in France as in the past:

  • recognition of a permanent right of residence: five-year continuous residency in France.
  • residency permit: same criteria as for current EU nationals, valid up to five years.

In France citoyen Union européenne residency permits will be valid until the end of the year 2020. In the case of a deal, a new residency will be issued; under no-deal, UK citizens have six months following Brexit to lodge a residency application.

Carte de resident

But to anticipate a no-deal Brexit, France has issued several legislative and regulatory measures. The Ordinance of 6 February 2019 governs the rights of UK citizens in France, including:

  • after five years’ continuous residence in France, UK nationals will receive a 10-year residence card (carte de resident) for themselves and their dependents. This carte de resident will also replace the UK nationals’ current carte de resident permanent.
  • less than five years’ residence in France: common-law residency permit depending on the situation of the applicants, but multi-year validity immediately and under a simplified process and documentation.
  • no long-term visa entry and no CIR requirements (integration scheme) will be required from UK nationals.

A specific reception system is being developed to handle future requests. An online approach to ease the process is possible, along with just one single passage at Prefectures.

Key contacts

Haiyan Cai
Legal adviser/Head of immigration
T +33 1 47 38 56 49