Brexit and EU citizen rights

I am not sure if this post should go under health or Brexit so I will hope some answers will come from this very helpful SF forum
My situation is as follows:
I am British, married to French lady and we are both retired since 2013. I receive my French pension plus a small pension from UK. We were married in UK in 1970 and moved to live in France in 1980. Since then I have worked full time for a French company and am fully integrated tax-wise and Carte Vital etc. I “only” have a British passport. I had a Carte de Sejour in the 80’s and 90’s but since then it has not been needed. Our marriage is included in our Livret de Famille.
Emotions off to one side, I am shortly going to confronted by a double whammy. Brexit will probably take away my EU citizenship (barring miracles) so I will no doubt need to obtain a “permanent Carte de Sejour” or whatever is decided on in the coming Brexit negotiations. The other half of my double whammy concerns the health of my wife. She is extremely ill with cancer (not yet declared terminal but it becomes more obvious every day), so if/when she passes I could well find myself as a UK citizen and widower in France. Our 2 daughters live nearby so my intention is to remain in France. So I guess my question is this…if I have to apply for a permanent Carte de Sejour (or other document) after my wife passes, am I likely to be told that I do not qualify?

You will qualify through residency. Nobody is sure what exactly will happen after Brexit but if you apply for a CdS now then hopefully you will simply be able to exchange that for whatever it is that they decide British citizens will need to hold.

Many thanks…guess I am getting too worried

With the amount of paperwork required you may as well become French instead, as it’s actually less paperwork. You don’t have to naturalise but can do it by declaration because of being married to a French woman so it’s comparitively simple. Dual nationality will give you more security than a carte de sejour permanent (which you would be perfectly entitled to since you gained permanent residence rights years ago).

You can never be asked to leave anyway, having been here for more than twenty years (French law rather than EU law).

Nationality by declaration:


Good evening Debra

Very interesting that you say that France won’t ask you to leave if you’ve been here more than 20 years. My husband, also British, has lived in France since 1992 so this may be relevant for him. Can you possibly let me know where I can find the law on this?

Many thanks.

Ne peuvent faire l’objet d’une obligation de quitter le territoire français .
5° L’étranger qui réside régulièrement en France depuis plus de vingt ans ;

It’s actually only 3 years if you’ve been married to a French spouse - see no 7.

It’s ten years if you’ve been legally resident (except if on a student visa) and after 20 years it doesn’t matter if you’ve been legally resident.

No 11 covers me now (permanent residence) and I can’t see that they’d reassess our residence so far under different rules (even if they decide it should come under those rules in future) so the 10 year rule should cover me too and if all else fails, if I claim my son’s French nationality (born here) in two year’s time I’ll be covered as a mother of a French child too - phew :slight_smile:

Thanks very much. I’ve been here nearly 11 years so the 10 year rule should cover me as well then. Will study this further.

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Nothing to add Philip except my very best wishes to you your wife and your family…x

Unfortunatly there is no certanty as the politicians are motivated by ideology and not common sense… Not a single one of my requests for information have been answered by either my UK MP or by ministers or by civil servants or by my MEP.
The phrase most often encountered is “Nobody knows”.

**Article 16
(Look at paragraph 4)
General rule for Union citizens and their family members

  1. Union citizens who have resided legally for a continuous period of five years in the host Member State shall have the right of permanent residence there. This right shall not be subject to the conditions provided for in Chapter III.

  2. Paragraph 1 shall apply also to family members who are not nationals of a Member State and have legally resided with the Union citizen in the host Member State for a continuous period of five years.

  3. Continuity of residence shall not be affected by temporary absences not exceeding a total of six months a year, or by absences of a longer duration for compulsory military service, or by one absence of a maximum of 12 consecutive months for important reasons such as pregnancy and childbirth, serious illness, study or vocational training, or a posting in another Member State or a third country.

  4. Once acquired, the right of permanent residence shall be lost only through absence from the host Member State for a period exceeding two consecutive years.

That seems clear enough but ask for confirmations and guess what? “Nobody knows”

Our health care should be OK under PUMA

But this only applies if you are an European Citizen, you use of English makes me suspect that you are an American citizen. In which case you are on your own.

the 10 year rule does it for me too or I could wait another 12 years and get nationality after 25 years + over 65 + parent of French kids… I’ve had enough of dithering over the years and I’m going for naturalisation as everything is here and it’ll be the last piece of the jigsaw finally in place :smiley:


You’re covered, by 4, 6, 7 and 11 aren’t you, Andrew? So you’re pretty safe but yes, if I could, I’d go for naturalisation too!

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Many many thanks for all of your kind replies - information and words of comfort. Nice know the options are open. The last thing I want to do at this time is start compiling documents from UK, translations and then French admin. That will have to come later.
Thanks once again

Philip the French do not accept that we only have one birth certificate to last us our lives and you need to have an “up to date” one, so don’t waste your money getting them too early.

The ten year rule would also cover us. When we arrived in France, as a relocation of employment the company/relocation agency got us cartes de sejour. Now they will not renew them in our prefecture. At all, ever!I have passed this info to the British embassy as advised by Connexxion newspaper as they are monitoring experiences of this. I have read that some people have been granted cartes but I don’t know where they live or if it’s true.
I’ve found mine very useful for identification as it’s small enough to fit in my purse.

I 'm so sorry to hear about your wife’s illness,I hope you can have as much quality( and pain free for her) time as possible together. Courage, to you all.
I do agree that compiling documents at this time would be the last thing you need!

.I applied for naturalisation last September(waiting for interview date) and found it stressful enough, probably because I’m not by nature organised, and I have a very varied job history, I think someone once said it was a" parcours or carrière accidenté(e)!
I’m now belatedly applying for a 10 yr permanent residents card as well,as although I’ve been here over 20 years and should be OK( looking at the above list) I have an elderly mum in UK who is coping at the moment but may well need my help in the next year, so want to establish residence rights before I leave;(I have French sons so would want to come back to France )I suppose quite a few of us have already “sort of” lost freedom of movement rights ,we have to sit tight until March next year
There does seem to be more paperwork required for the Residency card as you have to go back 5 years instead of 3 for Naturalisation.

I suspect that I won’t have to present my birth certificate to the French authorities any time soon but I’ve noted the phrase “an up-to-date birth certificate” in other threads.

I confess that I am puzzled by this. In what way can a birth certificate be “up to date” - I mean it’s not as if the date or circumstances of my birth are ever going to change.

Up to date just means issued within the last 3 months. We had to get copies from the UK when we got married. Yes, it seems absurd to us Brits but the French authorities insist on it.

Thats interesting Debra, my French Wife and I have been married for more than 5yrs, what concerns me though, if I took French, or Dual Nationality, what would be the impact, on my English Will?

@Paul - Because in France things are added to your birth certificate the whole time eg marriage, divorce, pacs or remarriage, redivorce, widow/erhood etc etc. As French authorities ask French citizens for a birth certificate under 3 months old, that applies to foreigners as well. You can always try arguing.:wink:

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