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Immediate affects of Brexit for British nationals

Brexit EffectiveBrexit became effective at midnight on 31 January. The French Ministry of the Interior sent out a press release a few hours before concerning British citizens residing in France. It provides a brief outlining of what does and does not immediately change and gives dates and websites relevant to permit requirements. Clearly, France knows that there are thousands of Britons in a state of disbelief and concern for their future. The tone of the letter is reassuring and reminds people that there is no immediate change in status due to the grace period until the end of 2020. However, there are immediate changes concerning the right to vote in the upcoming municipal elections.   

Here is the translation of the official document:

Following the ratification of the withdrawal agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union will be effective as of 31 January 2020 at midnight.

The withdrawal agreement provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020. The deadline of Brexit tonight will, therefore, have only a limited direct impact:

The right of entry and residence of British nationals and their family members after Brexit

The withdrawal agreement specifies the conditions of residence of British nationals in France.

It provides that during the transitional period until 31 December 2020, all British nationals will be entitled to stay in France until 31 December 2020

Rights of British nationals acquired as EU nationals are maintained.

The provisions of the withdrawal agreement will apply to British nationals and members of their families already settled in France or coming to settle in France before 31 December 2020.

In the application of the agreement, British nationals will have to be issued residence permits marked "Accord de retrait" which they will only be required to hold from 1 July 2021. Before that date, they will not be required to hold a French residence permit.

In order to enable British nationals to submit their applications in advance of the residence permit online, the website, adapted to the provisions of the withdrawal agreement, will be available from July 2020

British nationals and their family members who have already undergone an application for a residence permit on the website provided for the hypothesis of a Brexit without agreement will not need to re-apply online. Their application has been taken and will be processed by the prefecture before the obligation to hold a permit is imposed.

For more information, the government information site

Police checks at the Franco-British border

Border Police (BFP) checks at the Franco-British border crossing points will remain unchanged during the transition period until 31 December 2020, both in the direction of entry into and exit from the Schengen area. No additional delays are therefore to be expected and the current fluidity of passenger flows will be preserved.

Right to vote and to stand as a candidate in local and European elections in France for British nationals 

The withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom does not contain any transitional provisions concerning the electoral rights of British citizens in the Member States. On the contrary, the agreement specifies that the provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which provide for the right of European citizens to vote and to stand as candidates in European and municipal elections, and the acts adopted on the basis of those provisions, are not applicable to the United Kingdom during the transitional period provided for in the agreement.

Furthermore, in France, the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections presupposes holding French nationality or, for municipal and European elections, the nationality of another Member State of the European Union.

Consequently, from Saturday 1 February, British nationals will cease to enjoy in France the electoral rights which were linked to their European citizenship, which will result in their automatic removal from the electoral rolls. 

British nationals will, therefore, be unable to vote or stand as candidates in the municipal and Community elections of 15 and 22 March 2020. 

On the other hand, British local councillors elected before 1 February will remain in office until their term of office expires, as there is no legal provision for their automatic resignation.