The Withdrawal Agreement Residence Permit
Who does this concern?
On the 1st of October 2021, every British National who is resident in France must hold a valid residence permit. Those who were ‘legally resident’ before the end of Transition on the 31st of December 2020 are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement guarantees. They will hold what is being called a Withdrawal Agreement residence permit (titre de séjour portant la mention «accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE»), to distinguish it from a carte de séjour UE, which many of us once held as EU citizens before Brexit.
Residence permit, carte de séjour and titre de séjour. What’s the difference?
While a Withdrawal Agreement (WA) residence permit and a carte de séjour describe the type of card we hold, a titre de séjour is any document that represents our legal right to reside in France. WA residence permits, cartes de séjour and EU passports can be used as a titre de séjour in France; EU citizens can live in France without holding a carte de séjour, their passport represents their right to reside under EU and French law.
A Withdrawal Agreement residence permit (WA RP) is your carte de séjour «accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE» which protects your residency rights in France under the Withdrawal Agreement.
How can I be sure that I have the correct card?
The online application portal for the Withdrawal Agreement residence permit (WA RP) went live in October 2020 and will remain open until the 30th of June 2021. The very first cards were issued in November 2020 in the Dordogne. This initially caused some confusion when the first residence permit recipients were questioning whether they had indeed been issued the new cards, while other applicants from the previous No-Deal portal were still receiving cartes de séjour!
If you are at all unsure whether your own carte de séjour is the previous EU card or the new Withdrawal Agreement residence permit, please compare it to the image below. This image is a specimen five-year temporary card, a ten-year permanent card will have slightly different wording.
There are also some differences in colour and text between the earlier WA RPs and the more recent cards. However, if your card mentions ‘Article 50 TUE’, it is the correct card for British nationals who were living in France before the 31st December 2020.
Why is the appointment at the préfecture necessary?
You will usually have attended an appointment at the préfecture for fingerprints and photographs. In some cases, if the préfecture has a recent record of these they may use the information they have on file. These biometrics are important, as without them, your residence permit wouldn’t conform to accepted standards and could cause difficulties when returning to France after a journey abroad. This is why an appointment to collect biometrics is only waived if it’s considered that the applicant is unlikely to travel across borders again.
What are the differences between a temporary or a permanent residence permit?
The préfecture will either issue a five-year ‘temporary’ WA RP or a ten-year ‘permanent’ WA RP depending on the length of your residence in France on application, or whether you’re married to a French national, or on specific circumstances such as having suffered permanent injuries from an industrial accident while employed in France.
With a five-year residence permit, physical presence in France is required for a minimum of 183 days of each of those first five years to remain ‘legally resident’. There are some special circumstances that allow you to be absent for longer, such as serious illness or a work posting in another country.
With a ten-year ‘permanent’ WA RP, it is the card that must be replaced after ten years to update photographs and personal information and your ‘right to remain’ that is permanent. Once you have these permanent residency rights, you are permitted to leave France and live elsewhere for up to five years without losing your residency rights.
If you are issued a five-year Withdrawal Agreement residence permit, but reach five years of legal residence before the card nears expiration, you can request your ten-year permanent residence permit. This may not be immediately issued by the préfecture, but be assured that under EU and French law, your rights of permanent residence exist even if they’re not reflected in the card that you possess.