We’ve been trying to obtain residence permits or titres de séjours ever since we moved to live in France. If you read the first part of this saga, you will know that this wasn’t because of any issues with our status but because the system kept changing and anything administrative always takes longer than you’d expect in France.
When finally the new online system for British nationals to apply for the Withdrawal Agreement Residence Permit (WARP) went live in mid-October this year (2020), we did our customary wait-and-see what the feedback regarding the process was like before diving in. But we didn’t want to wait too long.
Following Britain’s exit from the European Union on 31st January there has been a ‘transition period’ during which the two sides were to negotiate the fine detail regarding trade agreements, participation in European projects, cross-border recognition of licencing and the general dismantling of decades of wedded life that sadly any divorcing couple go through.
Apart from no longer being allowed to vote in France, nothing much changed during that time for those already living here. But the transition period ends at 23:59 CET on 31st December. All British adults who are resident, ie actually living in France or move here before the 31st December 2020 have until 30th June 2021 to apply for the WARP, which protects their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Even those who already have a titre de séjour must apply and swop their card for a new WARP, which shows their rights are based on the Withdrawal Agreement and not EU citizenship (which we no longer have).
If you have already applied using the ‘No deal’ application website that was briefly available October 2019- January 2020, you do not have to reapply. The French authorities already have your information and will use that to process your application for the WARP. If like us, you applied directly via your local préfecture, you need to apply again, through the new website.
After 30th June 2021 any British national who has not applied for a WARP will be treated the same as any other Third Country national ( eg American, Japanese, Australian…) and there will be much stricter limits on the time you can spend in France and what you can do while you’re here.
The initial feedback from members of various Facebook groups that I belonged to was good. The site was clear and easy to use and only a minimum of documentation was required. After lurking online for a fortnight and not finding any reports of snags, bugs or the site crashing, I took a deep breath and sat down to complete our applications.
For those who have been in France for at least 5 years the process is basically a straight swop, but as we had been living here for less than 5 years we had to first decide which category we came under:
- Married to, or living with, a French person.
- Jobseeker (registered unemployed in UK prior to arrival or registered with the pôle d’emploi)
- Investor (special status whereby you have to invest 300K in a French business)
For us that was simple because we are both set up as micro-entrepreneurs, self-employed, in France.
We just had to upload documents to prove
- Identity (ie, copy of passport)
- Proof of employment or registration as self-employed ( I used our affiliation to URSSAF certificates, showing our company SIREN numbers)
- Proof that we lived here in 2020 ( For this I uploaded copies of our income tax return showing the date we first moved to France)
- Proof of health cover (As self-employed, we automatically joined the French health system, so I sent our attestation de droits, the certificate attesting to our right to treatment by the French Healthcare system, which can be downloaded from your personal space on the Ameli (health) website.
Everybody’s circumstances will be different, the requirements for the different categories vary and there are other documents you can use as proof for each section, so for a very straightforward guide to the process and documentation required please see this site, which explains everything very clearly.
There are a few things to remember when applying:
- get all your documents scanned and organised before you start
- even if you already have a previous residence permit you need to tick the box on the form saying it’s your first application (because it is the first time you are applying for this card) If you don’t, you can’t see all the areas you need to complete.
- All scanned and photographed documents must be in one of these formats: .pdf, .png, .jpeg or .jpg
- Each document transmitted as a supporting document must have a different name.
- The maximum size of each file cannot exceed 5 MB.
The application is free and when I completed and submitted the online form I received a confirmation email with my application reference number. This serves as proof that I have applied within the set period, until I actually have the WARP in my little sweaty hand.
Now all we have to do is wait.
Although the application has to be done online, the actual processing is done by your local préfecture. (Uh oh…)
Officially, we should now be contacted by email by our préfecture, with any requests for additional documentation if necessary and then an invitation to interview, where we will provide a photo and have our finger prints taken. Our new WARPs will then be sent to our home address by post.
Judging by feedback from Facebook forums, a couple of departments started processing straight away, to trial the process. Many people from the Dordogne for example have already received their cards. In other areas, people who have recently updated an existing card are being sent a new card, without the need for an interview. This seems sensible in the current COVID crisis.
As ever in France, it is clear that individual préfectures are at different stages in getting their heads around all this and some are already putting their own interpretation on the whole process. The French government has now published a decret, which sets out exactly what is required.
So, we will see what happens. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we are the proud holders of our WARP cards. I’ll let you know.