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Visas and second homes: What are the main issues for Brits in France post-Brexit?

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, Brits have faced new requirements for visiting or living in France. Here are some of the most common problems that readers of The Local have encountered with navigating the world of visas, residency cards and the 90-day rule.

Visas and second homes: What are the main issues for Brits in France post-Brexit?

Pre-Brexit, UK nationals benefited from EU freedom of movement – which meant that moving to France did not require visas, while visitors could spend months at a time here without worrying about the 90-day rule.

But since the end of the Brexit transition period in January 2021, Brits have entered the world of ‘third country nationals’ who require visas and residency permits to live here, and have restrictions on visits (the same way that other non-EU nationals such as Americans, Canadians and Australians have always had).

Over the last couple of years, The Local has received a lot of questions about how the system works and which are the best visa options for Brits in France – whether they’re moving here to work, retiring here or wanting to spend time at a second home.

Brits already living here before the end of the Brexit transition period were able to benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement. This meant that they could stay, but had to register for a special post-Brexit carte de séjour residency permit.

Although the process was a long one, it seems that most people eventually got their card with few problems and are now able to use the card whenever necessary to prove their right to stay. In general, France has not seen the same type of problems as in Sweden and Denmark – where hundreds of Brits have been expelled from the country because they did not have the correct post-Brexit paperwork.

Those who move here after that date, or with to visit for long periods, will need a visa.

Here are the most common queries that people have raised;

Under 18s – perhaps the biggest issue for people who were already living here prior to 2021 is teenage children. Children do not require a carte de séjour, but once they turn 18 they must get one. Children who were living here with their parents before the end of the transition period still benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement, but cannot use the special online portal set up for post-Brexit residency cards. Instead, the application must be made directly at the préfecture.

EXPLAINED: How Brits in France can secure residency rights for their children

Under 18s who do not yet have the card have reported issues with proving their right to residency when, for example, they start learning to drive or want to get their first job. There have also been some issues with travel – full details here.

Moving to France

Brits who move here after January 1st 2021 don’t benefit from any kind of special deal and are treated exactly the same as other non-EU citizens such as Americans, Canadians and Australians – which means visas and residency permits.

‘Be prepared to wait’ – readers’ tips on getting post-Brexit visas

Some of the most common questions we are asked is what type of visa to apply for – we address that question in more detail here. It’s important to have the right kind, as all visa types have their own rules, for example a visitor visas requires an undertaking that you will not work in France.

The other thing that frequently catches people out is the post-visa paperwork. Getting the visa is far from the end of the admin – you will usually need to validate it upon arrival and may also be required to go for a medical appointment, take language classes or register with the OFII – more detail here.

Second-home owners 

The largest volume of questions we have received have been from second-home owners struggling to understand the restrictions on the time they can spend here. 

Pre-Brexit, Brits who owned property here could spend as long as they liked here, but since Brexit the 90-day rule applies. In short, second-home owners must restrict their visits to 90 days in every 180, or get a visa if they wish to spend longer.

The 90-day rule itself is quite complex, you can find a full explanation here and the answers to some common questions below;

For many people, 90 days in every 180 is enough, but those who want to stay longer will need a visa.

The biggest confusion here is around the type of visa needed – confusingly, France has two visas known as a ‘visitor visa’ – however they are very different.

Second-home owners who want to keep their main residence in another country should take the short-term visa known as visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur – or VLS-T. This is usually valid for 6 months and you can have one per year.

The other type of visitor visa is the long-term visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour visiteur or VLS-TS. This is for people who intend to live in France without working (eg pensioners). It may seem attractive to second-home owners as it lasts for a year, but by applying for this visa type you are telling French authorities that you intend to live here. This means extra post-visa requirements (as outlined above) as well as implications for tax and healthcare. 

You can find a full explanation of the difference between the two ‘visitor’ visas HERE. 

Second-home owners who wish to keep their main residence in the UK also need to be aware that they are not entitled to the post-Brexit carte de séjour – some of these were issued in error, but having this type of card when you do not live in France can create all sorts of problems from issues with the French taxman to problems with car registration – full details here

And finally a word about tax – residency in immigration terms and ‘tax residency’ are not the same thing, and spending a large portion of the year in France can affect your tax status.

Many people also ask us if France is likely to either relax the 90-day rule for second-home owners or create a special second-home owner visa. We don’t pretend to be able to predict the future – but we put that question to the former UK ambassador to France to ask his opinion. Here’s what he said

If you have a question not covered in this article, feel free to email us on [email protected] – you can find more information in our Brexit section HERE.

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For members


Property tax surcharge: Where in France second-home owners are liable for extra taxes

Local authorities in certain parts of France are entitled to place an extra property tax on second homes - here's how the system works and how to find out if your area is introducing such a rule.

Property tax surcharge: Where in France second-home owners are liable for extra taxes

France’s householders’ tax – taxe d’habitation – has been almost completely phased out, but there is one group that it still applies to; second-home owners.

Not only do second-home owners still have to pay the tax, an increasing number of communes are imposing a ‘surcharge’ on second homes which increases the bill by up to 60 percent.

The government has given local authorities in areas where there is a housing shortage the power to increase taxes on second homes in order to fund more affordable housing for locals and an increasing number of communes are choosing to use this power.

READ ALSO Second home or main address? French property tax rules explained

Towns and cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and “a marked imbalance between supply and demand for housing” are known as zones tendues (troubled zones) and may increase their portion of the taxe d’habitation by between five and 60 percent.

For the record, taxe d’habitation is based on the rental value of dwellings, payable on all furnished premises used for residential purposes, in accordance with article 1407 of the CGI (French General Tax Code).

The aim of the surcharge is to encourage second home owners to either sell the property, or rent it out long term.

Earlier this year, we reported that the Mediterranean glamour resort of Saint-Tropez hopes to raise €3 million a year for new local housing by increasing the taxe d’habitation on second homes by 60 percent from next year.

They are far from the only town to do this. Paris decided to raise its portion of the taxe d’habitation bill on second homes by 60 percent in 2022; while some 255 towns and cities across the country – of the 1,136 eligible to do so – have taken up the option of boosting their rates. 

READ ALSO Second-home owners: What French taxes do you need to pay?

Last year, city councils in cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Biarritz, Arles and Saint-Jean-de-Luz voted to increase the tax to the maximum 60 percent.

Cities must be able to demonstrate significant second-property rates and that property purchase and rental prices are higher than the national average in order to be eligible.

New rules, which do away with the 50,000 lower limit on population, come into force in 2024 (delayed from 2023) and could see the tax rises implemented in up to 4,000 additional towns.

According to the Direction générale des finances publiques (DGFiP) a total 22.4 percent of the municipalities authorised to levy a surcharge on taxe d’habitation for second homeowners did so in 2022. 

The full list of towns able to impose higher taxe d’habitation rates is here.

READ ALSO Reader question: Who has to pay France’s ‘vacant property’ tax?


There are some. You may be able to claim exemption from taxe d’habitation on second homes if:

  • Your professional activity is close to their second home and obliges you to live there;
  • Your primary residence is a long-term care facility, meaning your former primary residence is now your second home;
  • The property is uninhabitable for a reason outside of your control. For example, if work is needed to make it habitable. If this is the case – and it’s not uncommon of you have bought a property as a restoration project – you need to register it as uninhabitable with your local tax office. You will usually then benefit from a reduced or zero tax bill for a limit period – in most areas two years is the maximum time you can declare the property uninhabitable.