Holiday home /residential

We will be visiting France in the next few weeks living and touring in a rv searching to buy a property for a holiday home with the option of making it a full time home after a period of time if happy. Any information regarding how long you are allowed to stay in a property before it is classed as full time and requires registration as such.
Plus any removal contacts would be handy for bringing stored furniture to France.
Thanks in anticipation. The tourist.

A holiday home and a permanent residence are two separate products in France !!! Be careful.

I have no idea about your questions BTW ? Sorry.

A property is a property is a property. As the owner you pay tax foncière, and if it’s in an inhabitable condition and nobody apart from you lives there then you also pay the taxe d’habition. If you’re a fiscal resident of France (ie a French taxpayer) then the property whose address you put on your annual tax declaration is classed as your primary residence and any other properties you own are classed as holiday homes. If you’re not fiscally resident in France and therefore you don’t submit your tax returns here, then any property/property you own in France is by definition a maison secondaire.

So I guess what you really need to know is, what are the critera for fiscal residence in France, and they are:
Sous réserve des conventions fiscales internationales, vous êtes considéré comme domicilié fiscalement en France si vous répondez à un seul ou plusieurs des critères suivants :

votre foyer (conjoint ou partenaire d’un PACS et enfants) reste en France, même si vous êtes amené, en raison de nécessités professionnelles, à séjourner dans un autre pays temporairement ou pendant la plus grande partie de l’année. A défaut de foyer, le domicile fiscal se définit par votre lieu de séjour principal ;

vous exercez en France une activité professionnelle salariée ou non, sauf si elle est accessoire ;

vous avez en France le centre de vos intérêts économiques. Il s’agit du lieu de vos principaux investissements, du siège de vos affaires, du centre de vos activités professionnelles, ou le lieu d’où vous tirez la majeure partie de vos revenus.
La seule application du droit interne propre à chaque pays peut néanmoins aboutir à ce que vous soyez considéré comme résident fiscal de plusieurs pays. Le cas échéant, afin de déterminer un lieu de résidence fiscale unique, il convient de vous reporter à la convention applicable à votre situation particulière.

Hi Keith,

This is a difficult question as French law is quite murky on it. Your "résidence principale (full time home) is the place that is « résidence habituelle et effective du propriétaire » (usual and actual residence of its owner). In short, as long as you stay less than 6 months on that property, it will be considered as a “résidence secondaire” (holiday home).
Moreover, if nobody noticed you have been in the house for 7 months o more, and nobody will, nothing will happen.
Anyway, in both cases you’ll pay taxes on the property (property tax and housing tax), with only some minor differences.
The main difference is that once you have registered your house as résidence principale (there are some fiscal upsides at doing that), you’ll be considered as a resident (as Anna explained) for fiscal matters.


I was suggesting that buying a holiday home with a view to living there permanently is not (IMHO) a good idea. Buying a home and using it as a ‘holiday home’ before you move there permanently is a better idea. There is a logic there if you think about it !!

You don’t “register your house as résidence principale” though do you. The status gets changed automatically when your first tax return is processed. And the question of tax residence in France/UK/wherever, is decided by national tax law and international tax treaties. Casually deciding to put in a tax return in a country where you’re not resident so as to get the benefits that that country gives to its tax residents, is as bad as not putting in a tax return in the country where you are tax resident. It’s not your decision to make, you can’t choose where you pay your taxes - though of course you can influence the decision by where you spend your time and how you run your life.

[quote=“MCA, post:5, topic:16177”]
I was suggesting that buying a holiday home with a view to living there permanently is not (IMHO) a good idea. Buying a home and using it as a ‘holiday home’ before you move there permanently is a better idea. There is a logic there if you think about it !!
[/quote] Yes I kind of get that - although personally I think I’d have two very different sets of boxes to tick for a holiday home or for a home to live in permanently.

Anna, I think I was misunderstood. Tax residence has nothing to do with a property or, at least you need to rent or own a property in the country where you want to become a resident. And what does that mean, being a reident ?
In France you can opt being a resident if “the center of your family life and interests is located in France.” I have 2 daughters in London, I am working in Europe and I have a house in France and rent one in Ireland, traveling back and forth. I chose to remain a French tax payer but I did not have to. French tax office did not flinch when I applied, I must say.
On the opposite, a lot of Europeans choose to own/rent a house and become a resident in the UK or Ireland, although they are not living permanently there (i;e you have to stay more than 183 days say the bilateral treaties. 6 months and 1 day). They make their money in France or somewhere else because incomes from foreign origin are not taxed countries in both these for the first 12 years or so. So every 10 to 12 years they move to the next honeypot.
May I add that all this is is perfectly legal.

Surely it’s a matter of whether or not you meet the criteria set out in national tax laws, tax treaties and tax authorities. The way I read the French criteria, if the centre of your family life and interests is located in France then you are clearly tax resident in France. As I said, you can influence what criteria you meet by where you spend your time and how you arrange your affairs. But beyond that, I don’t see how “opting” comes into it. If Country X’s tax authority looks at the facts of a person’s movements and situation over the previous tax year and interprets them as meeting the criteria for tax residence, and that person hasn’t been filing in Country X because they didn’t consider themselves resident there, then it would be up to that person to justify to the satisfaction of the tax authority that they hadn’t met the criteria. If the authority isn’t satisfied then it goes to court, and that’s how tax lawyers get rich - arguing over the existence or non existence of a family relationship to prove where the “centre of family life” is, and sordid stuff like that. This poor chap for instance, who happened to be the first tax evasion case who came up on google

Mmmmmmmm the ‘counting-the-days’ game. The urban myth…

Length of stay in a given country may have no relationship to tax residency -which is simply a matter of fact. Whatever your movements around​ the planet, your tax residency will ultimately be determined by where you have your centre of commercial interest as Christian has already mentioned. For example property, assets, bank transactions, phone calls, employment, family ties, utility payments etc etc. It’s not just about the number of days / months. In any case, if it was, there’ll always be one place you spend more time than any other during the year - even if it’s only by a matter of hours!