If you’re at the stage where you’ve found your dream home in France, this handy checklist of the major essentials will help with your move to France.
Before you go
We’re firm believers in making lists of things to do when it comes to planning a successful move. And France is famous for its bureaucracy, so there’s a lot you can forget. It really does help to have everything written down and to keep relevant paperwork handy – you will need it.
1 Sort out your visa and healthcare requirements
Post Brexit, moving to France from the UK requires a visa. There are several different types of visa and you can find details about which one is best for you, what the criteria are, what paperwork you need, and how to apply here: france-visas.gouv.fr/en_US/web/france-visas/ma-demande-en-ligne
There are three visa application centres in the UK: London, Manchester and Edinburgh. You’ll need to go to an in-person interview at one of them.
Typically, it takes 2-3 months to process from start to finish.
Once you arrive in France, you will need to validate your visa within 3 months (via the French Govt website: administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr/particuliers/#/) and apply for a Carte de Sejour, also known as a titre de Sejour (resident’s card). This may require a medical and will require lots of documents.
2 Prepare your paperwork
You will need paperwork for applying for just about everything: Carte de Sejour, healthcare, driving licence etc. At the very least, here’s what you need. Have the originals and, importantly, copies of these documents to hand. The chances are that you’ll need to send documents multiple times. And some authorities may require you to organise authorised translations.
Birth certificate with parental affiliation
Car registration documents
Car insurance documents and no-claims bonus information
Diplomas if thinking of setting up a business
Proof of purchase of home in France/proof of residency
UK Bank statements for last 12 months
3 Open a French bank account and organise utilities
You’ll need a French bank account to pay for utilities etc.
You can open a non-resident account while you’re waiting for your house purchase to go through and change it when you become resident.
Most French banks offer international banking services.
If you’re buying your French house through an agent, they can help you to organise utilities. Some services offer an English speaking helpline which can be really handy when you’re new in France and not fluent in the language. Orange Telecoms and EDF are particularly good.
To access healthcare in France there are different methods to apply. If you’re employed by a French company – you’ll get access straightaway. Or you’ll need to be resident in France for at least three months before you can apply. If you’re retiring to France you should apply for your S1 Form from the UK Pensions department.
Your UK GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) will cover you for emergency healthcare only, you’ll need to take our private healthcare pending receipt of your acceptance into the state healthcare system.
And be aware that France operates a ‘top up insurance’ healthcare system.
Book your removals company
Transport of goods has become more challenging post Brexit with an increased requirement for paperwork. It’s important to choose a company that has a good reputation and proven track record to ensure things go smoothly.
You don’t have to pay customs duties on personal belongings provided you have owned them for at least 6 months and taxes have been paid in the country of origin. But you have to complete an inventory of all goods moved to France whether you do it in one go or over several journeys. You’ll also need to complete two copies of a customs declaration and attach to it a complete inventory, with values of the goods being transported.
Note: If your property is a second home, you may be liable for duties and taxes, such as VAT, although generally your items will be duty-free.
Happy moving day!