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Brits with second homes in France can stay for six months without a visa, after post-Brexit limits overturned
21 December 2023, 13:23
French MPs have voted to allow British people with second homes in the country to stay for six months without a visa, after complaints that a post-Brexit rule limiting them to 90 days was unfair.
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Since Brexit, people from the UK have only been able to stay in France 90 days out of ever 180 without a visa.
If they wanted to stay for longer, British people have had to apply for a six-month visa instead, which is a costly and lengthy process.
The rule has been frustrating for many of the 86,000 British households who own holiday homes in France.
But the limit has been scrapped after a vote in the French parliament, sparking jubilation among campaigners.
Steven Jolly, the founder of the France Visa Free Facebook group, said: "After two years of campaigning it’s a great achievement.
He told the Times: "This is a recognition that those with a home in France should be allowed to continue living in their homes in just the same way that they did before Brexit without having to make France their primary residence."
Mr Jolly said: "It shows that the French are willing to address the adverse effects of Brexit."
All French people are allowed to stay in the UK for up to six months without a visa, not just those with second homes in the country.
Campaigners said the same rule should apply to all British people in France, not just property owners.
Mr Jolly said: "France is helping us solve the 90-in-180 day problem but only for some British visitors; ultimately we would also like to see every British visitor to France treated in exactly the same way as French visitors to the UK today, and given a six month per visit visa exemption or automatically issued visa."
It is unclear how exactly the new rule will work - second homeowners may be asked to show their property deeds when they arrive in France.
And concerns remain that the new law could be struck down by the Constitutional Council, the French version of the Supreme Court.
Mr Jolly said that "our next phase should be to lobby ideas on how this change could work."
He added: "There is a process that needs to be established. In addition, a note of caution needs to be exercised, the law could be deemed unconstitutional as it favours one group of foreigners over another."
Senator Mertine Berthet, of the Savoie in the southern Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, proposed the change after speaking to British people who own homes in her area.
"The Britons I have spoken to say the current system is long-winded, difficult and full of pitfalls," she told the Telegraph.
She added: "Ties are warming between France and the UK following the royal visit.
"And don't forget, King Charles reserved his only official speech for the French Senate.
"The British are privileged partners of France. History has shown this to be the case."
Long waiting times at French visa centres are another issue plaguing British homeowners in France.
And in a fresh blow to homeowners, French property taxes could also be set to rise by 60% under new rules. Taxes are set to rise by at least 7.1%, but local authorities can apply for much higher rates.
Philippe Bas, a senator in the Républicains party, said that British people were being punished unfairly.
Even though they "didn't have anything to do with Brexit," the UK leaving the EU "has punished them," he said.
Mr Bas added: "They must be able to come to France and make the most of their second homes and spend their money".