Can someone help explain how long I can be out of France for? (3 years residency)

Hello! I’ve recently found this amazing community and can’t wait to get to know everyone better! I’m sorry that my first post is a request for help!

I’ve lived in France for 3 and a bit years now, and hold a 5 year EU Carte de Sejour. I am currently in the system for the new Carte De Sejour, and applied for it in October 2020.

I’m currently on furlough (chomage partiel) and have returned to the UK to help look after my elderly parents, but I maintain my apartment and income in France. I left in November 2020.

My question is how long am I allowed to be in the UK for? How does the 6 month rule work in practice?
Is it a trip of longer than 6 months, or 6 months total in a year? And have there been any extensions for coronavirus, as international travel has been very much discouraged.

And what would happen if I overstayed in the UK (i.e is it enforced?)

My job is unlikely to come back until the summer, and I am concerned that the border might become much more restricted in the coming days.

I know I need to come back, but equally I am not happy to be going into a high risk area right now (Ile de France). Indeed, travel advice is not to enter the region from outside unless for an essential reason.

Thank you everyone for your help- I really don’t want to jeopardise my residency and job by getting stuck the wrong side of the border, or by staying too long by accident.

The right of residency under the Withdrawal Agreement continues for life unless you are continuously absent from France for a period of 2 years or more.
When you mention a period of 6 months I think you are becoming confused with taxation issues. There is no 6 month rule in relation to the right of residency. Just make sure that you return to your home here in France before 2 years elapse and you will be fine.

Probably good to note that you will have to attend your local Prefecture here in France in person to give your fingerprints and photos in order to obtain your new Residency Permit.

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Not quite Robert. The periods outside France are not just about tax residency, but also about building up the time needed to qualify for a permanent card. So yes you can leave for up to 2 years, but this time will not be included in the years necessary to get a permanent card. Which of course means that you will need to meet financial thresholds etc etc for longer. Which if you are not employed could be an issue. Your right of residency does not continue for life if you have been here less than 5 years as you have to continue to meet the conditions of being legally resident.

“Votre séjour en France doit avoir été ininterrompu. Toutefois, certaines absences sont autorisées (absence maximum de 6 mois consécutifs pour un total d’absences de 10 mois) et prises en compte dans le calcul des 5 ans.”

So you can leave for up to 6 months without extra time being added on to your 5 years. But of course do remember that if you are in the uk for more than 183 days then your tax residency will change.


Just to clarify Jane’s excellent answer - from the last British Embassy Outreach meeting, it was stated that, with a temporary card, the 6 months in which you could be outside France without risking your status as a resident is 6 months in EACH year. Do you agree @JaneJones ?

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Under the WA permanent residency card (10 year WA CDS) holders are actually permitted to leave France for up to 5 years. Other CDS / EU etc it is only 2.

During the first 5 years you must be present for at least 183 days / year.

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We’ve spoken to one of the prefectures about this (someone stuck in Oz) and they have said that they are absolutely aware of the corona virus issue and are being flexible. In all honesty though I can’t imagine anyone actually asking you to show / prove unless you were every single year skating on thin ice down the 6 month line. It is 6 months in one calendar year.

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So reading all this made me wonder, and since you’ve popped in @toryroo perhaps you know. If I have been in France 4 years, get a 5 year CdS, can I then in a year apply for a permanent one, or must I run out the full 5 years of the 5 year card before I can apply, even though I would then have been here 9 years? I’m sure this has been covered but I’m not sure I’ve actually seen an answer.

If you are bothered you can swap over or just do it when it runs out.

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Thank you! Knowledgeable as always!

They talked about this at the British Embassy meeting @kirsteastevenson and apparently, once the French govt have got past the June date so that everyone who needs to apply has had their chance, they will be setting up a system to swap a 5 year for a 10 year permit… I was particularly interested in that as I’m in exactly the same situation as you are :smiley:

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Thank you for clarifying this!

Knowing that it’s 183 days in a calendar year is really helpful. I don’t plan on much international travel this year either once I’m back in France, so hopefully I wouldn’t go other the 6 month limit. In previous years I have spent about 3 weeks a year out of France, so hopefully they would accept that this extended absence is very much pandemic related.

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I’m sure I read within the WA text that an absence of up to year (?) is allowed for exceptional circumstances such as a health reason - there is a list of reasons.

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Yes you can leave for longer, but it isn’t then one of your “5 years”. To become a permanent resident you have to have lived here legally for 5 years…which don’t have to be consecutive.

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Ahhhhh you might be right, I do remember reading something along those lines! I’ll find out tomorrow

Thank you for this, it makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately my career (entertainment) is severely affected by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, so I may not actually make it to 5 years. I will try though!

That’s also incredibly useful information if I do end up on a tour in the future that exceeds 6 months.

Thank you everyone for the incredible help here. Its really helped alleviate some of the nerves and worries I have around this. I was worried that I would be turned back at the border or something equally severe, but unlikely.

France has quite a few special things for artists and the cultural sector so it might be worth asking the French Embassy if there is any flexibility for artists - do you qualify as an intermittent?

No, at the moment I’m on a CDI. But I will definitely do some research on that!

@JaneJones and @toryroo - Hi both, I’m in a vaguely similar situation to the OP - I have a 5 year French residence permit, but came back to the UK in December 2020 for Christmas, ended up receiving a job offer and have been here since. However, I am keen to return to France in the coming months, and am trying to work out whether my permit is still valid, considering my absence of over a year.

Judging by what you say, Jane, the permitted absence for a 5-year permit holder is 2 years, but you suggest, @toryroo, that it’s only 6 months - if you don’t mind me asking, where did you both find this information?

I’ve been looking for clarity on this issue for a while, as the Withdrawal Agreement only seems to mention the permitted absence for 10-year permit holders (5 years).

When I said 2 years I was referring to people who have permanent 10 years cards that are not Withdrawal agreement ones. The allowed absence of 5 years is a special British Brexit concession.

For those with 5 year cards I believe like Tory that the max is 6 months in any year (and 12 months for exceptional circumstances that is best to flag to préfecture once have been away for 6 - so caring for dying parents for example).

If you have been out of France all last year, and presumably paid tax in the UK and not in France, you have lost your rights to be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement as far as I’m aware. To return you will need to get a visa. Sorry.