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Information for British nationals living in France and information on driving regulations in France
If you are a British citizen or British subject with right of abode in the UK, you do not require a visa to enter France. Other British nationals should confirm the current entry requirements with their nearest French Embassy.
A valid British passport must be held for entry to and exit from France as a visitor. There is no minimum passport validity requirement but you should ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your visit. You must also carry proof of identity at all times.
French Health Insurance and Social Security
French health insurance is administered by the social security system; “Sécurité Sociale”, and your “Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie”. For residents in France, a “mutuelle” (top-up insurance cover) covers the cost of healthcare that is not covered by a Carte Vitale.
In order to obtain a social security card for health care; a “Carte Vitale”, you must first register with your local CPAM; you are advised to contact them in order to obtain details of the documents they require for registration. Mutuelle services are provided by insurance companies and there are many different offers to consider.
UK State pensions
The UK basic state pension is payable in France.
The state pension changed in April 2010. More people now qualify for a full basic state pension. Find out about the most important changes and what they mean to you.
To find out when you reach State Pension age, use the State Pension Age Calculator.
If you live but have not worked in France, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre (IPC) in the UK by telephone: +44 (0) 191 218 7777
Moving to France once in receipt of a UK state pension
If you are moving to France from the UK you should inform the IPC of the changes to your circumstances. This will prevent any problems with your pension payments. It will also help you to get the right access to healthcare in France.
You cannot get UK pension credit if you move abroad permanently.
Entitlement to a French retirement pension
For information on how and when to claim a French retirement pension if you have worked in France, or how your contributions in the UK can contribute toward your entitlement to a French retirement pension, you should contact your local pensions office, Caisse d’Assurance Retraite et Santé au Travail (CARSAT) . You will need to give as much information as possible about your working life.
You may also be thinking about paying voluntary contributions to top up your pension entitlement in either France or the UK. For further information on paying voluntary contributions in the UK, contact HMRC. For voluntary contributions in France contactCARSAT.
Information can also be found on the official French administration website.
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you have received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service it is important that you reply as quickly as possible otherwise your benefit may be stopped. You’ll need to get it signed by a ‘witness’ and send it back, as instructed on the form.
Check the list of people who can witness a life certificate. This is now the same as the list of people who can ‘countersign’ a passport photo, although they don’t need to live in the UK, or have a British or Irish passport.
Benefits in France
UK Benefits which you must apply for before leaving the UK:
UK Benefits which you can apply for after leaving the UK:
- Contribution-based Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance (Care Component)
- Attendance Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Bereavement Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- UK Child Benefit
Non-exportable UK benefits
The following benefits are for people who are ordinarily resident in the UK and under no circumstances are they available in France:
- Pension Credit
- Council Tax Benefit
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Means-tested Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance
Remember, if you are in receipt of benefits, it’s an offence not to tell the Department for Work and Pensions. If your circumstances change, for example:
- you are going to live or are currently living in France
- you get married, or if you separate, divorce or are widowed
- you start work, increase your earnings or your savings
If you do not tell the DWP it could mean prosecution, imprisonment and even the confiscation of your home and possessions.
For more details visit the benefit theft website.
French contribution-based benefits
Working and paying contributions in France gives you entitlement to a number of French benefits. These benefits include unemployment benefit, and permanent and temporary incapacity benefit.
French unemployment benefit
Information on unemployment benefit in France can be obtained from Pôle Emploi. and further information on French unemployment benefits can be found on the CLEISSwebsite.
French disability benefit
You should contact the Maison Départementale des Personnes Handicapées (MDPH) if you are entitled to a Disability Allowance. Several different allowances exist in the French system and it is advisable to seek advice before applying.
Further information on French disability benefits can be found on the official French administration website.
French Family allowance
To apply for Child Allowance, Family Income Support, Single parent Allowance or Housing Allowance, you should contact the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales). If you encounter difficulties in applying, you should request an appointment with the social worker at your local town hall (Mairie).
Britain has a double taxation agreement with France to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. In accordance with French and international law, all residents in France (nationals and non-nationals alike) are required to declare assets or groups of assets held outside France. Assets may include bank accounts, securities, rights, insurance, annuities, property, etc. The declaration is a separate exercise to the annual tax return.
Severe penalties for incorrect, incomplete or late reporting can be incurred and the legislation also means that criminal charges can be brought in the case of non-compliance. The requirement and potential penalties are in line with standard international tax practice.
Taxation is a complex issue and it is strongly recommended that professional advice is sought.
Driving licences and vehicles
Importing your UK-registered vehicle from the UK to France
If you spend longer than six months of the year in France with your UK-registered car, French law states that you must register your vehicle with the French authorities. For information on how to do this, please contact your local prefecture.
Further information can be found on the official French administration website.
UK-registered vehicles being driven in France must comply with all UK requirements for road tax, MOT, and third party insurance covering the full time period the vehicle is used in France, up to the six-month limit.
Driving in France
- the minimum age required to drive is 18 years
- it is advised to at least register you UK licence with your local town hall or prefecture. This is because if your licence is lost/stolen/destroyed they will have proof that you held a UK licence which will help you in the process of replacing it with a French licence
- you can alternatively change your UK licence to a French licence at your local town hall or prefecture
- remember that your photo on a UK licence needs to be renewed every 10 years. This cannot be done if you live abroad and your town hall or prefecture will need proof that you are still entitled to drive before they can issue you with a French licence in replacement
- if you ever need proof of your entitlement to drive you will need to apply for a ‘Certificate of Entitlement’ from the DVLA
France motor insurance regulations
French insurance regulations differ from those in the UK. It is important to check carefully what cover your policy provides.
Documents you should carry in the car
When driving in France, if stopped by the police you would need the following:
- your driving licence
- your car papers
- your insurance paper
- your MOT/Control technique certificate (every 2 years once vehicle is over 4 years old)
- your ID document (ie, passport) and those of your passengers
- a high-visibility jacket
- a red warning triangle
If you receive a traffic fine while driving in France (e.g. for speeding/parking incorrectly) you might be asked to pay on the spot. Be completely sure of the identity of the person before you hand the money over. Offer to give proof of address and ask if it is possible for the fine to be sent to you instead.
If you dispute a fine you have incurred and wish to appeal, this will clearly be marked on the document that you receive through the post. If it is an on the spot fine ask the officer politely how you would be able to appeal against the fine.
- British Embassy and Consulates in France on twitter
- The British Community committee in France
- The Council for the English-speaking Community
- Connexionfrance, a newspaper for English speakers in France
- Angloinfo, for information and directory of services in English
- www.thelocal.fr, a website providing France’s news for English speakers
Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the French authorities.