The status of British persons in the absence of a withdrawal agreement from the EU
Lise SOUQUE and Haywood WISE, Law Firm of Haywood WISE,
April 24, 2019
On March 29, 2017, the United Kingdom notified its intention to withdraw from the European Union (EU) according to the provisions of article 50 of the European Union treaty of Lisbon. This withdrawal should have taken effect at the latest on March 30, 2019, however negotiations have been more complicated than initially contemplated and the Member States granted, on April 10, 2019, a deadline to the United Kingdom to sign the withdrawal agreement, for October 31, 2019.
Failing a withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the Member States of the EU, British citizens shall be subject to the internal rules of each of the Member States. Furthermore, if the UK does not participate in the European elections on its territory and have not ratified the agreement of May 22, 2019, then the UK who have no other option than to leave the EU as of June 1, 2019.
In this article we will deal more specifically with the consequences of the lack of such a withdrawal agreement in France and the provisions of French internal law that are likely to apply to the situation of British persons residing and visiting France under the current state of French law.
In a communiqué dated December 19, 2018, the European Commission called upon the Member States to adopt a generous attitude to British persons who are already residing on their territories. This suggests that the Member States, including France, are encouraged to adopt a favorable legal regime to British persons already residing in France.
As regards short stays in the Member States, that is to say stays up to 90 days in a period of 180 days, the Commission has recommend, in their 2018 communiqué that British persons should be exempted from visa requirements, provided that the citizens of the Member States are afforded the same exemption. Therefore British persons are likely to continue to be allowed to travel to France without a visa.
However, for UK citizens residing for periods longer than 90 days, they shall be required to request a long stay visa from a Consulate abroad (the Consulate of France in London, for instance) and or a French residency card (“titre de séjour” or “carte de séjour”).
The French law of January 19, 2019 (no. 2019-30) authorizes the government to establish the rules governing the entry and residence of UK citizens by executive order in the event no EU withdrawal agreement is reached. The French Ministry of the Interior has distinguished two situations for British citizens, depending upon whether the withdrawal agreement is signed or not. In the event that a withdrawal agreement is reached, the British citizens present in France before December 31, 2020 will be required to request a residency permit (titre de séjour) under the terms of the withdrawal agreement. They will be required to make the request before the month of July, 2021.
However, failing a withdrawal agreement, British persons will be subject to control and will be required to request a residency permit.
British persons residing habitually in France before the date of UK’s withdrawal shall be granted a period of one year, from the date of withdrawal, to obtain a French residency card under simplified rules. This request must be made on a timely basis as will be established by decree. During this transitional period the UK person’s residency and working rights will be maintained in force.
It should also be noted that the French government has anticipated the establishment of new infrastructures to receive British citizens and to control the border.
Indeed the French authorities are preparing for a number of possible scenarios. In order to stay abreast of the latest changes you can consult the French ministry platform: https://brexit.gouv.fr/sites/brexit/accueil.html
Our legal team stays informed of the latest developments of the consequences of Brexit for persons residing in France and we will continue to keep you informed.
 Doc COM(2018) 890 final, 19 décembre 2018
 L. n°2019-30, 19 janvier 2019: JO, 20 janvier 2019
 D. n°2019-37, 23 janvier 2019: JO, 24 janvier 2019
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