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Brexit – what future for the French in the United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union on October 31 2019.How will this impact the 300,000 French expatriates residing in the UK? What steps are the authorities taking to protect their rights? We shed light on an impending divorce that is feared and eagerly awaited in equal measure.



Towards a Brexodus of the French community?

According to a recent survey conducted by Opinion Way, 13% of French nationals living in the United Kingdom would like to leave the country and a quarter of them are undecided about whether to do so. What is more, 76% of these people want to return to France.

French expatriates are particularly concerned about social protection (53%), purchasing power (37%), and taxation (26%). From political and social tensions to the rising cost of living, 89% of the respondents have observed “changes since the announcement of Brexit”. In addition, 71% of them consider that Brexit will have a negative impact on their personal lives and 60% are worried about its effects on their children’s future.

Yet, despite the many fears, 62% of the respondents intend to remain in the United Kingdom after it leaves the EU.


What will be the status of foreign residents in the post-Brexit era?

For European foreign citizens who have been residents for at least 5 years, the British authorities have introduced a new permanent resident status called “settled status”. After the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, it enables the holders of this status to work, study and access the country’s social benefits and services under the same conditions as before. They will be able to bring family members from outside the EU into the UK without restriction.

Europeans who have arrived in the country before 31 December 2020 – the end of the transition period – but within the last five years will be eligible for “pre-settled status”, prior to being granted permanent resident status if they eventually meet the permanent resident requirements.

The British Home Office is currently working on a post-Brexit immigration plan for people who arrive after the period of transition, i.e. from 1st January 2021.


How are the French authorities preparing for Brexit?

On 19 January 2019, the French government adopted new measures to prepare for the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU. This plan has been implemented to protect the interests of French residents in the United Kingdom, but also to guarantee a status for British citizens in France and take steps to restore border controls on goods.

One of these orders sets out to ensure the continuity of certain financial activities after the UK loses its financial passport, particularly in the insurance sector. It ensures the protection of French policyholders and enforces the execution of valid policies even when the insurance company has lost its European passport and is no longer in a position to enter into new commitments. 

At the end of 2018, the General Secretariat for Foreign Affairs in France created a website dedicated to Brexit. Its purpose is to inform French and British citizens, but also businesses, and to help them with changes to their procedures resulting from the Brexit situation.

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