Moving to France from UK Checklist.
About 20,000 Brits make the move to France each year to turn over a new leaf and start afresh. And it’s no surprise – moving to the continent offers the chance to immerse yourself in a new and vibrant culture at the heart of Europe, to explore beautiful towns and cities that are overflowing with history and art, and to experience a world-renowned cuisine among other new and exciting things.
Embarking on this journey requires you to prepare for the challenges that it brings, specifically dealing with a substantial volume of paperwork and navigating French bureaucracy and its processes. But at the end of it you’ll have a new adventure awaiting you with limitless possibilities.
PART ONE: Getting your documents ready
The first thing you’ll need to do if you’ve made the decision to move to France is apply for a long-stay Visa that will give you the necessary permission to remain in France past the 90-days Visa-free allowance you have as a UK citizen. This will usually fall under the long-stay visitor category (VLS-Visiteur) but this may differ if your spouse is a French national or you have previously resided in France.
Prepare all your documents for the final step. First, ensure your passport (with the Visa stamped inside) is up-to-date. Then gather birth certificates, full driving license, and certificates of marriage/divorce/child custody. Moreover, save copies of these documents on a device (such as Google Drive) and create a folder with physical photocopies. If you have pets you will need to attend a veterinary clinic for an Animal Health Certificate. You will need to bring proof of vaccination record and microchipping date. Then you will be given the certificate which is valid for ten days for travel into the EU.
Arrange medical insurance for yourself and your spouse as soon as you arrive in France, either through a private provider or by opting into PUMa (the French healthcare system into which you must be enrolled if you have employment in France). You can read more about healthcare in France here.
PART TWO: Relocating to France
Going through the process of renting or purchasing a property in the region where you will be moving is probably the most important piece of the puzzle – ideally, you should organize this well in advance. Sites like leboncoin.fr offer an insight into the local housing and rental markets and will let you browse through a range of properties. Alternatively, you can approach a local estate agent or agence immoblier who will be able to offer a more in-depth approach to finding you a property that will suit your needs. Once this has been done you will need to Redirect your mail to your new address – you can read more about this here.
You need to check if your mobile phone provider offers any coverage in your new location. If not you can ask your provider for a temporary international add-on to your contract. This way you’ll be able to make calls as normal for the duration of your first weeks in France. There may even be a roaming period where you can use it as normal without having to pay extra. Once you’re resident in France you may want to consider taking out a French mobile contract – you can find good deals on sites like Free Mobile.
With all this organised you can now focus on planning the all-important moving day – this might include booking plane, train, ferry or bus tickets, printing boarding passes, getting travel insurance and arranging for transportation of your belongings via an international moving company.
PART THREE: Moving your finances abroad
First thing’s first – before you leave, you should tell your bank you’re going abroad.
Upon your arrival, it’s wise to inform your UK bank about your travels. This ensures you can make purchases and use your card abroad without any blocks. Setting up a French bank account may take some time initially.
Moving to France from the UK – Checklist
Finally, you need to speak to a local Financial Advisor. Now that you’re moving to France you will need to give consideration if your previous schemes are accessible and tax-efficient. For example many UK pension providers will not allow a non-UK resident to enter into drawdown. Also, if you have something like an ISA or NS&I Premium Bonds then these lose all their tax-free benefits. Having access to your pensions, investments and savings is critical to ensuring you are able to make the most of your new life – whether it’s setting aside some money for a future holiday or dealing with an emergency. Harrison Brook can help you find solutions and alternatives to these problems.