I want to become a French Resident - who can tell me all the ins and outs?

Bonjour everyone on this sunny Sunday,

I wonder if any of you good people would be kind enough to give me some advise please?

I am unsure who to talk to to get the final word on all the ins and out of becoming a French Resident - legally ? Would it be a tax advisor? and how do I go about finding the right person for us that can speak English. Our French is ok..ish but not anywhere near good enough to have a complicated discussion. We are Brittany.

I have what feels like a million questions buzzing around my head and not any real idea how or where to start but guess the finance side may be stage one.

Both myself and OH are retired. We bought a house here in Audierne (dept.29) in 2011 and are still renovating it, but we now consider this to be our home and main residence for the forseeable future.

Our income is of course a state pension each and a sprinkling of small work pensions that does not add up to very much atall. If this were all I would not be worried, life would be simple but we have, and want/need to keep for a while, two properties in the uk and this might be where the questions start.

I don't know if it even relevant but one is a cottage (our previous home) that is rented out in the summer and this pays the overheads, gives our income a small top up and also allows us to return every winter (2-4 months) to visit family and friends etc… We also have a flat that is rented out and pays for itself each month but would give no profit if sold at the moment. We really need to hang onto both of these until property prices recover a bit.

At present I have an accountant that deals with the rentals and the HMRC returns but has no clue of anything french or how our residence in France will affect us.

I think I need to speak to someone that is very clued up on all this and can advise us how best to set things up (if there is anything to set up) before we make anything official or make any mistakes.

I have heard various stories about people doing it all wrong and getting in a right tangle, so thought I would just throw my question out there and hope for some pearls of wisdom.

Also- silly question I know but where do I actually go to declare our intended residency- what is the procedure? Is there anything else I should be doing?

I appreciate any info offered.....

I must then contact someone in the Americain government, but I'm not sure who would deal with that. I suspect nobody those who deal with Medicaid and Medicare, but I doubt if they work overseas. I will have to contact my healthcare provider to see if they will cover me overseas, if not, then I will have to find something in France to cover me while I wait the 5 years to qualify then? That about sums it up then, unless anyone here has any more information that might be useful.

Yes, there have been discussions, mostly for EU qualified people, for the rest of us, our healthplans, if we have any at all, are not easily used overseas, and it gets complicated as we reside overseas. ;-( but....hope it all works out :-)

-What age is the official age of retirement? I'm retiring early, what do I do. I'll be 56 or so when I move. These are the areas of concern I have.

Ok, So I will be a resident in France in two years or so. Should I try to become a citizen, or just stay a resident alien? And most importantly to me, how do I access the health care system in France , as I am not an EU citizen? I want to be able to have full access to health care, what will it take to qualify?

Hi Rob,

have tried to send you a message but It seems I have to be accepted as your 'friend' on the system first. I have sent a request this morning so will get in touch via private message when this has been done.

Cheers for now, Bev

Thanks Catharine, but I'm missing a lot more than that. Where can I find it? (I'm probably being very dim...)

Not to speak of resident and ordinary resident Rob. It's a complex area alright.

I think you have hit th nail on the head here, Greg

Thanks Catharine

Just as well, according to recent research that was reported in the Guardian and put up By Alexander Watson here on SFN as a discussion, the French are 'educated' to be gloomy. It doesn't sound as if you are so inclined ;-)

Thanks Catherine,

I think I think I may need to clarify ... I am only interested in being a Resident here not a French "Citizen'. I just want to cover all angles and make sure I am street legal as it were. I want to pay my taxes (the correct amount) and make sure that there are no surprises down the road.

I don't (well at this moment) want to become a French Citizen, attractive as it sounds sometimes.

And from the horse's mouth (well school project)

Comment devenir citoyen en France

La citoyenneté française est liée à la détention de la nationalité française. Cette nationalité s’acquiert de quatre façons:

  • par le "droit du sang": on est considéré comme français si on est enfant d'au moins un parent français;

  • par le "droit du sol": un enfant qui né en France d’un parent lui-même né en France est français de naissance ("double droit du sol"). Pour l’enfant qui est né en France de parents nés à l’étranger, la nationalité française lui revient automatiquement et de plein droit à sa majorité ("droit du sol simple différé");

  • par la procédure dite de "naturalisation": un étranger majeur, résidant habituellement sur le sol français depuis au moins cinq ans peut demander à être naturalisé. Cette durée de résidence peut être réduite à deux ans si le demandeur a accompli avec succès deux années d’études dans un établissement d’enseignement supérieur français ou s’il a rendu, ou peut rendre, " des services importants à la France ". Dans tous les cas, depuis la "loi Sarkozy" du 26 novembre 2003 sur la maîtrise de l’immigration, au séjour des étrangers en France et à la nationalité, il doit justifier de son "assimilation à la communauté française" lors d’un entretien individuel. Celui-ci évalue "selon sa condition" sa bonne connaissance de la langue française et des droits et devoirs conférés par la nationalité française.

  • par le mariage: depuis la loi du 24 juillet 2006 relative à l’immigration et à l’intégration, un étranger uni à un conjoint français depuis quatre ans, peut demander à acquérir la nationalité française par déclaration. Le délai est porté à cinq ans lorsque le demandeur ne justifie pas avoir résidé de manière ininterrompue pendant au moins trois ans en France à compter du mariage ou, en cas de résidence à l’étranger, lorsque son conjoint français n’était pas inscrit au registre des Français établis hors de France. Le demandeur doit également avoir un niveau de connaissance de la langue française suffisante, "selon sa condition".

    D’un point de vue juridique, la nationalité est une condition nécessaire, mais pas suffisante, pour acquérir la citoyenneté. Il faut aussi jouir de ses droits civils et politiques.Ainsi un enfant, ayant obtenu la nationalité française, ne devient citoyen français qu’à partir de 18 ans, âge de l’acquisition du droit de vote.

    À la lumière de cette énumération, la citoyenneté en France, par rapport à d’autres pays, semble relativement ouverte. En effet, la nationalité française semble relativement aisée à obtenir, notamment au regard de l’exemple allemand. Pendant très longtemps, seul le droit du sang existait, et ce n’est que récemment que la loi a permis l’obtention de la nationalité allemande par la voie du droit du sol.

    Naturalisation : Accorder une nationnalite a un etranger

I think this is what you missed Rob :)

**We are in a similar situation to you and pay our taxes here...**

Are you confusing 'residency' with 'citizenship'?


there is basically 2 ways to get a french residency: working contract (CDI), or marriage. But, there is always many 'special' situation that can grant you a french residency. I think you should go to "La prefecture' of where you live, and simply ask them.

anyway, when you are british , it's easier for you to get a residency in France

Good luck,


HI Heather, I only have three sentences from you on the entire thread, so no, sorry, I didn't. Still can't find it...

I doubt it Heather! Sounds like an ideal solution re the carte de sejour v passport. I just wave my driving licence at people if asked for ID and that is apparently deemed acceptable.

Did you read all through my contribution? We do pay tax here and make annual tax returns. We had no problem getting the card although they wanted evidence of tax returns etc. They are the new cards which need fingerprint etc. It seems to have solved our worries - I hope we are not laying in problems for the future.

HI Glenn, this is the difference between being a legal resident and legally being resident! If you live here, you are resident here, and are obliged to declare your residence and pay taxes if necessary. Not doing this is always eventually bad for you!

I'm sorry Heather, but that's about as wrong as it gets. You can't be 'part' resident. Most prefectures won't issue cartes de sejour anymore, as they are no longer necessary for EU citizens. I tried to get one so as not to have to carry my passport too, but my prefecture refused point blank. The point in your case is that having a carte de sejour identifies you as french resident. I expect you have cartes vitale as well. All that will happen is that one day you will get a letter from the 'fisc' asking why you don't make tax returns. That is unless you experience what is called a 'fiscl trigger' - a tax event such as a death, or house sale, that exposes your position first. They can be the worst times to discover you have a residency problem. Far better to get it sorted out in advance.