Reader question: Can we still retire to France? Can you explain the process and whether certain income levels are now required and how they are checked?
We presume from the use of ‘still’ in your question that you are British and are wondering if Brexit has changed the rules.
It is true that there is now a set procedure in place for retiring from the UK to France and you will, due to Brexit, need to apply for a visa as a first step.
The good news is that Britons are still moving to France and navigating what is required without too much difficulty as long as they are prepared. We explain the visas and cartes de séjour process.
Britons, like other non-EU citizens wanting to move to France as pensioners, will usually come on a so-called ‘visitor’ visa. This is unless they can move under alternative rules such as based on family relationships with relatives already living in France.
When asked for the reason for your stay when applying you should select ‘visitor.’
Once in France for almost a year you can apply to stay on with a ‘visitor’ carte de séjour. Despite the name, this card can be renewed annually without undue difficulty although there are formalities and a €225 fee each time. This is with the proviso that the holder continues to fulfil the requirements for the card, essentially having regular income and healthcare arrangements.
The visa that you come to France on is called a VLS-TS and it must be ‘validated’ within the first three months. There is also an obligatory medical to be undertaken.
You should then apply for a carte de séjour temporaire ‘visiteur’ from four to two months before the end of the visa’s validity period.
The ‘visitor’ card has to be renewed annually, at least in the first five years.
When you apply for a visa you must show that you have sufficient income and healthcare arrangements for your stay, in addition to other points such as demonstrating accommodation is in place. The same information will also be needed for the one-year residency card you will require later on.
A single person will usually be asked to show that they have regular income equivalent to the net French monthly minimum wage, currently €1,353.
Official websites are vague as to how this applies to couples, however official sources previously confirmed to The Connexion that couples are not asked to have double this amount. Factors such as home ownership, savings etc can also be taken into account.
Proof of means can include current account bank statements from the last three months, showing a balance with sufficient funds, as well as pension slips. Applicants are free to take any other documents reflecting the funds at their disposal when going to the interview.
UK state pensioners can use the S1 form system, an EU mechanism which continues under the post-Brexit agreements. S1 applications are made to Overseas Healthcare Services. The Department of Health and Social Care advises that if needing treatment while waiting to be registered in the French healthcare system, S1 holders should use a Provisional Replacement Certificate service (PRC).
PRCs can be obtained by calling Overseas Healthcare Services. It can be emailed to them or directly to a health establishment where they are being treated.