Renunciation of British Nationality

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. So wrote Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, and still true today, but the big question for me is “Where to pay my taxes?”

A few years after arriving in France, I wrote to HM Revenue and Customs querying if I could have the income tax on my UK pension deducted here rather than in the UK. I still have their written reply saying that provided I was permanently resident in France and a French National, I could receive my pension gross and declare it here for taxation.

So, after five years I took the family on a long and complicated bureaucratic journey culminating in our gaining French Nationality as well as retaining our British Nationality. In short I have both a French and a UK passport. I should emphasise though that the tax issue was only an incidental reason as I wanted us to have nationality anyway.

Next stage, I again wrote to HMRC enclosing copies of their letter and my nationality papers, but another setback ......... because my pension is government based, i.e. a police pension, I would have no choice than other to pay income tax in the UK. They did apologise for their previous misleading information, which I accepted graciously.

Now I appreciate that taxes are inevitable, but as my and my children’s present and future rest in France, I would prefer to pay into the French system, but until recently, I accepted that this could not be. However, the double taxation agreements have been updated and the rules now include government based pensions. As I am now a single parent, with two dependant children I would be be considerably better off under the system here.

Well, I’m taking a pause right now, so what’s stopping me?

I discovered a rather disturbing condition relating to my dual nationality, in that one must be French and no other. So, if I am to go ahead, I must renounce my British nationality at the British Consulate (£229). A fairly simple procedure, but what a big step to take. Being born and bred in Britain it would seem like severing a cord, but practically why not?

Is being British whilst living in France just a feel-good idea, or are there any practical reasons for me to hang on to the status?

I know, but for short visits we never bother, takes far too long to get work visas.

The tourist visa doesn't allow you to work - you have to have a work visa.

Thanks Chris, you have made me look for OH. It has changed and French, Spanish and Russians are no longer listed. On the Indian Government website, visa question 2:

Q.2 Can I get a visa on arrival to enter India?

No, you must obtain a visa before taking a flight to India. You cannot obtain a visa on arrival in India, and immigration authorities will not permit any foreigner to enter the country. As per the new Visa on Arrival policy, nationals of Japan, Singapore, Luxembourg, Finland and New Zealand can obtain the visa on arrival for 15 days.

For a bit of work, 12 days at most (on a tourist visa, of course), she may well not be able to get it on time. A new regulation appears (it is a bit ambiguous) to say that visas can now only be obtained from country of origin! It used to be easier when we knew it was a case of taking it to the High Commission in London, queueing to get it in, queueing again after umpteen phone calls to find out four to six weeks later and collecting. Now it seems like the lottery!

Oh great - not good news. My OH may need to go to Kolkata at the start of September IF she gets the contract, but then I guess we should look at whether the Swiss also get entry on arrival, being 'neutral' and all that.

That's if you are a french national and live locally - you can add a week on if they have to check with your country of origin (even if you have supplied proof of residence). Then you have to add on the postage time and you have to lie about your date of leaving France otherwise your application goes on the backburner. We had to phone up when 3 weeks had gone by only to find out that they hadn't even started work on it. They've outsourced the visa issuing service and the last time we applied in France it was €50 for the visa - €30 for faxing UK (even with proof of residence) €12 admin charge, €15 for a certified bank cheque for each individual application, €21 for Chronopost there and €21 for supplying them with a chronopost envelope for the return. The last time we travelled to India in Jan this year we applied in UK and it cost £50 plus £9.50 for the ret postage and took one week door to door and no proof of residence required.

That's a change in the right direction then. Paris Embassy website says submit beween 0830-1030 one day to receive back same time next day - again much better than I knew it a very few years ago. Even with Indian Government supported work we, including French colleagues, needed to submit over a week in advance everywhere.

India issues visas on arrival to French, Spanish and Russian passport holders (amongst others) but NOT British - you have to apply for them at least a month before to be sure of getting your passport back in time to travel.

will do, thanks

Hilary, I have done it, been there, got the tee-shirt as well as ID card and French Passport. It is by no means automatic and quite honesty the whole procedure is a bureautic nightmare, however I am glad I saw it through. If you want any info, PM me.

The Prefecture in Quimper 29 definitely gives out the wrong information as they did to my wife who was applying for a Carte de Sejour. They told her that you couldn't apply for one in France- you had to do it in your home country (Philippines) before you got here. That was utter rubbish. A woman in the Service des Etrangers in Paris (over the phone) was perfectly foul and was lucky I didn't record the phone call. I eventually got an Avocat from Morlaix to sort it and he had to argue with them and draw their attention to the actual law. I have previously posted that ifyou want to write an English will I believe that you must at least hang on to your British citizenship. You won't be able to write the will until 2015 I believe.

No, sorry. Being married to a Swiss national and both of my children dual UK/CH, I think I might make it all the more confusing so I'll leave well alone. As for knowledge, none at all but again, if you sift through some of the stuff over the last few months you should get sterling advice.

iThanks Brian, I d seen how often it comes up but always ended up feeling that there was no definitive answer ;-) well, I have a few years do get it done before we get a chance to renew a president so maybe I'll try getting the papers together- fed up with all pay & no say!

do you have a useful link to the appropriate list of papers necessary by any chance?

Hilary, go round a few posts other than this and you will see how often it comes up. The answer is no you do not need to. It appears as though some mairies and other bureaucrats have a bad habit of telling people they must renounce UK nationality. In fact, unless the UK parliament changes things, the right to vote is not for life and it is not that many French general elections before one is off the UK electoral roll anyway. Dual nationality is quite common, as you will find, and actually that is ultimately, as it should be, for each individual to decide.

and is anyone clearer on the dual nationality question for the UK & France? I had been told I would have to renounce my UK nationality if I wanted to to take french nationality which interested me in order to be allowed to vote for all elections. However not being here because I ws dischuffed with the UK I dont really see any desire/need to bin the UK passport etc.

Your usual excellent analysis, Finn!The last sentence is particularly important - declaration is vital!

And, Brian, a good distinction there. Makes sense to me but, as you say, probably not to fome functionaries (depending on which ones one has the misfortune to encounter, of course!


Sorry chaps, but I am going to butt in on this bit of discussion. I have a book I have been writing for several years on citizenship in the hands of a publisher at present, very academic and boring for most people and roughly 300 pages to get to the point. Citizenship is acheived with age of majority and full social, economic and political rights. Nationality is by birth. One can change the latter and therewith obtain the other.

It does not matter in which civil code one looks, that is it with perhaps a few variances on age, some exclusions - some would say women in a sizeable list of countries as the best example, but also in penal law where political rights are withdrawn or sometimes political and economic rights. Dictionary definitions are too little detailed to really say anything, so forget them.

Aside from economic rights, there are such things as fiscal rights and duties which include taxation, they have nothing specifically to do with citizenship or nationality. Do not get confuse by disinformation from officials who are talking out of the seat of their pants. I can recommend a sizeable list of books on the topic if you wish to bore yourselves totally silly. For myself, in the context I was writing in it is fascinating stuff.

Regarding the nationality issue - I think in fact you will find that what most people have 'acquired' is not nationality but 'French citizenship'. They sound the same but I'll bet there is something in the small print! OH went through the hoops a couple of years ago, got her ID card etc and is entitled to a French passport if she wants one (not much point - UK Borders Agency seem to be happy with a French ID card). But at no point has she had to renounce British nationality.

On the taxation issue, the important point is that you are taxed in France on the basis of your world-wide income, wherever it originates and whether or not it is subject to 'double taxation' treaties. You cannot escape paying taxin the UK on UK government/local government pensions. You can, however, opt to have bank interest, etc paid gross - note that a separate form must be completed for each source, submitted to your French tax office who will (after about 6 months or more) forward it to the UK. UK state pensions (old age pension) can be paid into a french account, and are sent without tax deduction, and you can have private pensions treated similarly.

The French tax authorites calculate your world-wide income, determine (after your various allowances) what tax would be payable on the total in France: they then (under current rules) deduct from that sum the amount of tax you would have paid in France, under French rules, on that portion of your income that has been taxed in the UK. (This may be more or less than the tax you have actually paid in UK). What is left is what you pay them (they hope!).

Not at all Julia. Firstly if I do renounce my British nationality, the children can still keep theirs.

Second the only circumstance they would have to renounce their British nationality is if they joined the military, i.e. a loyalty issue.

As for me what do I lose? The right to vote in UK elections, and the right to hold a British passport. That's about it for me. Anyway, I would have the right to reclaim British nationality (just over £800) the first time, then at the Home Office discretion if I went through this again and wanted it.

Keep you r British Nationality, Attention, danger! You can get you and your children out if there is a war, for example.

I believe your children will have to renounce their British nationality to have access to the Bacc, driving lessons etc. I find this suspect!