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Brexit: What has changed for British second-home owners in France?

Brexit: What has changed for British second-home owners in France?
Visits to France are now a little more complicated for second-home owners. Photo: Clement Mahoudeau/AFP
Brexit has ushered in a host of new restrictions for Brits visiting France, and keeping up with them all can be hard. Here's our guide to everything that British second-home owners need to know about the new reality.

Its convenient location, good transport links, comparatively cheap property market – not to mention the stunning countryside and great food and wine – have long made France a popular destination for Brits looking to buy a second home.

Many thousands of people have invested in French property and travel regularly to spend time in their home-away-from-home.

But following the end of the Brexit transition period there are new rules that second-home owners need to be aware of.

90-day rule

This is probably the one that has the biggest impact – since Brits are no longer citizens of the EU they are restricted to spending only 90 days (three months) out of every 180 within the EU or Schengen zone.

You can find a full breakdown of how the rule works HERE.

In recent weeks it has become clear that French border police are strictly enforcing the limit, and several Brits have been stopped at the border and fined for overstaying their limit.

Visas

The 90-day rule means that second-home owners can spend up to 180 days in France over the course of a year, but not all at once, since the maximum stay limit is 90 days.

This means that spending the summer in France and the winter in the UK, or vice versa, is no longer possible and this is likely to affect second-home owners more than other visitors.

Those who want to spend more than 90 days at a time here, need to get a visa.

You can find a full breakdown of the French visa system HERE, and a guide to the visitor visa – the visa type suitable for people who want to pay longer visits and are not working – HERE.

Travel paperwork

Travelling to France also has some extra post-Brexit complications.

Your British passport is of course still valid, but needs to have at least three months left until its expiry date and if you have decided to get a visa you will also need to show this on arrival.

Non-EU arrivals can be asked at the border to provide extra information such as proof of accommodation while in France, proof of means during the stay and proof of medical cover.

READ ALSO Travel to France: What has changed since Brexit

Pets

It’s not only people who have extra travel hassles, if you regularly bring your dogs, cats or ferrets with you to your French property, remember that they can no longer travel on EU Pet Passports.

Instead UK resident pets need a new Animal Health Certificate for each journey. UK vets charge an average of around £100 per certificate, so if you make multiple journeys in a year and have several pets, prepare for a hefty annual vet’s bill. 

Food

You’ve probably already heard of the ‘ham sandwich rule’ but in fact there are a lot of food items that can no longer be brought from the UK to France, including animal products such as meat or cheese, or fruit and veg and even flowers or plants for the garden are covered by this ruling.

Full details of what is and is not allowed HERE.

Furniture/DIY items

While some items are banned altogether, there is also a value limit on the items you can bring with you from the UK.

Second-home owners involved in renovation projects frequently bring over items of furniture, DIY tools or fixtures and fittings, which tend to be cheaper in the UK, for their French home.

However you need to be careful that these don’t exceed the value limit otherwise you will have to pay duty on them.

Full details on the rule HERE.

Having friends to stay

If you have invited friends and family to visit your French property, they may be asked for an attestation d’acceuil in addition to the normal travel paperwork – here what that means.

Residency

While some people keep their second-home as a holiday property, others might have a long-term plan to retire to France and live in it full time.

This is of course still possible, but it’s more complicated since Brexit since you will require a resident’s visa when you intend to make the move.

There’s a popular misconception that owning property in France makes getting a visa easier, but that is in fact not the case, you still need to apply through the normal channels – find out more HERE


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