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Retiring to France

Retiring to France Retiring to France remains a popular dream.

Our nearest neighbour offers affordable property and a wonderfully diverse choice of locations across two coastlines and numerous rural regions.

But what are the option for prospective retirees in 2021?

Retiring to France post-Brexit

There have been no changes to the process or cost of buying a property in France, but now, unless you have a visa/French residency, you can spend a maximum of 90 days in each 180 in France every year. And this is where it gets a bit more complicated for the British couple who might have previously travelled too and from France at ease, gradually lengthening their stays as they enjoy more flexible working or fewer hours.

You will need to carefully monitor your travel to France, and also in the wider Schengen zone. You might think you seek to enjoy a long stay in the spring, and then the summer, but you need to leave a gap between stays. So if you arrive in France on 1 March, you can stay until the end of May. Then you must return to the UK for another three months before you can travel again, so you would not be able to return before September. 

It’s worth noting that this time limitation applies to all Schengen countries –which means that if you were to visit another country for 30 days you would only be able to spend 60 days in France within that same 180 day period.  This applies to those with recently obtained French residency as well as those without a visa/residency. Beware of becoming tax resident too, once you stay more than 183 days in France, on a Short Stay or Long Stay Visa.

Visas in France

If you want to stay in France for more than 90 days you will need to apply for a visa before you leave for France. This needs to be done through the French consulates in the UK, and might take up to three months once the process is started.

Make sure you choose the right type of visa as it not always easy or quick to change from one to another, for example, if you decide to try and set up a business. The French government have a dedicated visa website that will direct you to the right type of visa for you after five or six questions: https://france-visas.gouv.fr/en_US/web/france-visas

For trips less than 90 days there is a Short Stay Visa. For any stay in France exceeding 90 days, you are required to apply in advance for a Long Stay Visa. Whatever the duration of your planned stay, the duration of your Long Stay Visa must be between three months and one year. In order to extend your stay beyond the period of validity of your visa, you must apply for a residence permit at a prefecture (in France).

Most retirees will not intend to work, but if you do change your mind and think you want to turn one of the outbuildings on your property into a gite, for example, you will need a different type of visa. When applying for this you must be able to demonstrate the economic viability of your project by showing a detailed business plan with financial projections and/or demonstrating that you have sufficient income sources to support you.

Pensions

You will be able to draw their pensions whilst living in France - UK State pensions will be uprated - but both private and state pensions will be taxed in France if you are tax resident there. UK government pensions will always be taxable in the UK.

Healthcare

Healthcare in France is not completely free, even for the French. The state covers 70 per cent and the rest is through private cover.

Find out more about French healthcare here.