For members


Do post-Brexit travel rules apply to Brits living in France?

Travel for Brits is more complicated since Brexit, but are you exempt from the extra restrictions if you live in France? Whether you're visiting the UK or travelling within the EU, here are the rules that apply to you.

Do post-Brexit travel rules apply to Brits living in France?
If you're a resident of France, some travel rules are different for you. Photo by Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP

Brits living in France were among the first to become aware of the new post-Brexit realities as they needed to get the carte de séjour residency card and take various other steps to secure their legal residency here.

But while having the carte de séjour exempts you from certain travel requirements, others still apply. 

Brits who have taken French citizenship or have the passport of another EU country such as Ireland can continue to travel as before, while non-residents of France (eg tourists, second-home owners and other visitors) can find details on their travel rules HERE.

For the rest, here’s a breakdown of whether the rules apply to you or not;

Passport validity – YES. Your UK passport of course remains a valid travel document, but it must have at least three months validity left in order to travel. Some transport operators were initially asking for six months validity, that seems to have been largely corrected now, but make sure to check before travelling.

Passport stamping – NO. Brits who are not resident in France, and don’t have a visa, will have their passports stamped on entry and exit of the EU.

Brits who are resident should always show their carte de séjour alongside their passport to avoid being stamped. There have been multiple reports of passports for carte de séjour holders being incorrectly stamped by French officials who appeared not to know the rules – this is what to do if this happens to you.

90 day rule – YES and NO. Non-EU citizens can spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU or Schengen zone without needing a visa. Obviously the 90-day limit does not apply to time spent in France if you are a resident, which is why your passport does not need to be stamped.

The 90-day rule does, however, apply to all other EU or Schengen one countries, so once you leave France and head into, say, Belgium the clock starts ticking. In practice passport checks within the Schengen zone are quite rare, but you need to be aware of the limit if you spend a significant amount of time in EU/Schengen countries other than France.

When travelling within the Schengen zone, you should always take your passport and carte de séjour, just in case you are checked at the border.

Minimum cash requirement – NO. Non-EU nationals who are visiting France can be asked for a number of extra documents, including proof of accommodation and proof of having a certain amount of money for each day of their stay.

You will not be asked these questions if you are a resident in France, although you may be asked for proof of financial means when applying for a visa or residency card.

Registering British guests at the mairie – MAYBE. If you have guests coming to visit from the UK, you are technically required to go to your local mairie and obtain the form known as the attestation d’acceuil.

The form is for your guests to show at the border, there is no checking done on you as the host. In practice, border guards seem to rarely check this, and there is an alternative for your guests if they do not have the form.

Health insurance – NO. Non-EU nationals may be asked to prove they have sufficient health cover while staying in France, but if you are resident in France you are entitled to register in the French health system and get the carte vitale.

If you are travelling outside France, you will need the CEAM (Carte européenne d’assurance maladie) which will ensure healthcare costs are covered if you get sick or have an accident while travelling within the EU or Schengen zone.

These aren’t sent out automatically, you need to order one and they are only valid for two years. You can order the card or a replacement through your Ameli account, or by visiting your local CPAM offices.

Data roaming – NO. If you have a French-registered phone then you are covered by EU data roaming rules that prohibit excessive charges when travelling within the EU.

Once you’re outside the EU then it depends on the country you are travelling to, but your provider must warn you if you are running up excessive bills through roaming charges, so you will get a text message warning.

If your phone is still registered in the UK then take care with roaming charges, as many British operators are re-introducing them now that they are no longer constrained by the EU charges cap.

Pet passports – NO. If you live in France then your vet can issue you an EU Pet Passport for your cats, dogs and ferrets, which makes travel both within the EU and between France and the UK simple. You will not need the new Animal Health Certificate that is now mandatory for UK residents, but if your pet has an old UK-issued EU passport you will need to update it to a French one.

Food restrictions – YES. If you’re coming from the UK to France there is a long list of foods that you cannot bring with you, so gone are the days of bringing back some ‘proper’ bacon, Cheddar cheese or one of your mum’s home-made cakes after a trip to the UK.

If you’re going the other way, though, there are no such restrictions as the UK has delaying implementing its own checks, so you’re free to bring gifts of French sausage and smelly cheese to your friends and relatives in the UK.

Alcohol limits – YES. You can bring a few bottles of a choice French vintage to the UK with you, but the days of filling up the car with booze at the Calais warehouses are over since the introduction of new alcohol limits at the British end. As a French resident, you unfortunately don’t benefit from the duty-free prices either.

Extra queues – YES. This isn’t a rule per se, but an unfortunate consequence of all of the above, as numerous passengers have reported longer-than-usual queues at ports, stations and terminals this summer. Make sure you arrive in good time.

When entering France you will also need to join the ‘non EU’ passport queue, which is usually longer.

There is discussion in some countries of allowing permanent residents to use the EU passport queue, but it’s only an idea at this stage so unfortunately you remain stuck in the long queue with the tourists. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

The French government has capped electricity prices rises at four percent - but as with many French rules, there are certain exceptions.

Reader Question: Why did my French electricity bill increase by more than 4%?

Question: I read in the media that electricity prices in France are capped at four percent, but I just got a letter from EDF telling me that my bill is going up by almost 20 percent – is this a mistake?

The French government’s bouclier tarifaire (tariff shield), froze gas prices at 2021 levels and capped electricity price hikes to four percent – it remain in place until at least the end of 2022.

However, there are some customers who will see increases to their bills of more than that – here’s why: 

The regulated tariff rate

The French government involvement in price-setting doesn’t just happen during periods of energy crisis, normally regulated tariff prices are updated twice a year: usually on February 1st and August 1st.

Typically, this value is calculated by the CRE (commission de régulation de l’énergie) and it is based on several different factors, which are explained on this government website. These tariffs proposed by the CRE are then subject to approval by the ministers in charge of energy and the economy.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why are French energy prices capped?

These affect the state-owned Engie (formerly Gaz de France), the mostly state-owned EDF and some local distribution companies. Around 70 percent of people in France get their electricity from EDF but other suppliers do exist in the market.

These alternative suppliers, like Direct-Énergie, Total Spring or Antargaz, are free to charge more – but don’t usually charge much above the EDF rates for obvious commercial reasons.

Basic rate

The government-set limit in price rises refers only to the basic rate (option base) for electricity.

This plan represents over 80 percent of the 32 million households connected to the electricity grid in France. So, there is a good chance you might be subscribed to this without even realising it. 

If you are on the basic tariff rate, your bill will not increase by more than four percent this year.

Other tariff options

However, other options for electricity bills do exist, including off-peak rates, green deals and fixed energy prices for a certain period.

Typically people who sign up for these will have been paying less for their electricity in the preceding months than those on the base rate.

However, there are certain special deals that are not covered by the four percent cap, and some users will find that their deal period has come to an end, they are then shifted onto the base rate – which is likely to represent a price increase for them of more than four percent.

It’s little consolation when faced with rising bills, but you will likely have been paying significantly less than customers who have been in the base rate for the past few years.

READ MORE: French government to continue energy price freeze until at least 2023

Kilowatt price

Because most electricity price plans are bafflingly complicated, the easiest way to compare is to look at the price per kilowatt-hour.

Your electricity bill consists of a fixed part, the monthly subscription (abonnement) and the variable part, which depends on the quantity of electricity consumed (in euro per kilowatt-hour, kWh). The latter part is what is concerned by the tariff shield of four percent.

Here is an example of what that might look like:

The mid-August base rate price per kilowatt-hour is €0.1740/ kWh, so if you’re with EDF they cannot charge you more than this rate.

Other EDF plans charge significantly less than that – for example the Vert Electrique Weekend deal has been charging €0.1080/kWh on weekends and €0.1434/kWh on weekdays. 

Bill rises

With the tariff shield, the average resident customer on the base rate will see a €38 rise on their bill this year, while professional customers will see an average of €60 rise. 

Without the tariff shield, electricity prices per residential (non-business) customer would likely have increased an average of €330 a year, according to the CRE.