British second-home owners in France are encouraged to support a bill allowing them to stay in their French residences for extended periods.
France considers individuals second-home owners if their primary residence is outside the country but owns property within France.
On 14 November 2023, the French Senate approved an amendment allowing British citizens who own properties in France to stay in the country for more than 90 days within a 180-day period.
British property owners in France are urged to write to the French Member of Parliament where their home is located and express their support, reports Connexion France.
The Senate successfully added the “automatic long-stay visa right” as an article in France’s immigration bill. The National Constituent Assembly will debate it on 11 December 2023.
If signed into law, British second-home owners will be able to remain at their French homes for more than three months without having to apply for it formally.
This means British property owners in France would not need to go through any application process or require stickers on their passports.
They could simply show French border officials documents that prove UK citizenship and home ownership in France.
The impact on UK-France relations
French Senator Martine Berthet presented the bill to acknowledge the difficulties many British second-home owners face and its impact on France’s economy.
The bill cited difficulties, such as website errors and limited visa appointment availability, as factors affecting British second-home owners.
According to France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, or Insee, there are 86,000 French properties owned by UK citizens.
A Connexion survey also found that most of the 1,300 second-homeowners in France spend around €3,000 per month in France. Many expressed that they would love to visit their French homes more often.
“The adoption of the amendment shows the importance that the Senate attaches to the Franco-British relationship,” said Senator Berthet.
She hopes the other members of parliament will agree to keep the proposed amendment in the immigration bill.
Post-Brexit immigration laws
Many British citizens bought properties in France before the UK decided to leave the European Union (EU).
Before January 2020, they could still visit their French homes for up to half a year or six months without visa formalities.
Following the UK’s exit from the EU, British citizens can no longer stay in any country in the Schengen Area for more than 90 days in any 180-day period.
The current restriction also means British citizens cannot visit other EU countries if they’ve already spent 90 days living in their own home in France.
Those wishing to spend more days in France or any other country in the Schengen Area must now apply for a visa or residence permit.
These formalities involve lengthy and more complicated procedures, which may also mean applying for a visa for every long-stay visit.
On the other hand, the UK Immigration law remained the same. It allows all visitors from EU countries to visit England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland for up to six months.
Possible complications of easing the 90-day rule
France has the authority to establish its own regulations on visas and residency permits for its territory.
However, if the amendment becomes law, it may set a precedent among other EU countries.
The 90-day rule is an EU policy. As such, all 28 EU members must vote on changing the rule for it to be officially adopted.
The proposal has already caused a stir. There are reports that the Spanish government is looking to give British holidaymakers the same exemption.
There are also upcoming mandatory travel authorizations and permits between the UK and the EU.
In 2024, the UK expects all visa-exempt travelers, such as the French and citizens of other EU countries, to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for short stays of up to six months.
By mid-2025, the EU will require visa-exempt citizens, like the British, to have a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) for short visits to the Schengen Area. The 90-day rule will remain unchanged.
The UK ETA is valid for multiple short stays within two years. Meanwhile, the ETIAS will be good for many short visits within three years.
These systems aim to enhance security measures and make it easier for visa-exempt travelers to visit the UK, France, and other EU countries.