The RIFT No Deal Checklist
With the threat of a no deal Brexit seemingly looming larger, obviously we all hope for sanity to prevail. Nevertheless it’s a good idea to make some personal preparations for a no deal scenario in order to put yourself in the best possible situation should the worst happen. Here are some ideas.
That means you should:
- Make sure that you’ve submitted tax returns in France if you’ve been here long enough to do so (even if all your income comes from the UK);
- Make sure that you’re in the French health system and that you have an attestation of your rights even if you don’t yet have a Carte Vitale. Download a new attestation from the AMELI website in February or early March 2019, just in case.
- Apply for a Carte de Séjour under current rules. This will evidence the date of your arrival in France and give you proof that you were legally resident on 29 March 2019. This may be like gold dust in the case of a no deal exit, and if there is a Withdrawal Agreement it will help you benefit from a streamlined process to receive a new card if necessary under post-Brexit rules.
2. Create, and keep up to date, a dossier as if you’re applying for a Carte de Séjour. In particular:
- Collate all your Avis d’Imposition since you arrived in France. You may need them to prove the length of your residence. You can download them and print them out from within your account at impots.gouv.fr. Alternatively request a ‘bordereau de situation fiscale’ from your tax office for each year of your residence. You can do this online, in your account at impots.gouv.fr, by following these instructions.
- Put together a file of utility bills for at least 10 years if you can. This will prove your continued residence.
- If your name is not on the taxe foncière or taxe d’habitation bills for your household, or on any utility bills, get it added now.
- For women in particular: make sure that the name on bills, bank statements, pension statements, payslips etc matches the name on your passport if possible.
- Put together a file of bank statements, wage slips and/or pension statements for the last 5 years if you’ve lived here that long. Longer is even better – 10 years is best. You may need these to prove the stability and sufficiency of your resources.
3. Check your passport
- Make sure your passport will be valid for several months after 29 March 2019. If not, consider renewing it early.
4. Check your driving licence
- If you’re still using a UK driving licence, apply for a French licence now. It’s relatively straightforward and is now done online (so no queuing at your préfecture). A UK licence can be exchanged for a French licence without formality, except for a medical test for certain categories. It’s possible that UK licences will not be valid in the EU in the case of a no deal Brexit.
- Consider applying for an International Driving Permit if you regularly drive in the UK.
5. Think about moving money
- If you have bank accounts, savings or investments in the UK, consider moving them to France now. Sterling may drop suddenly in the case of a no deal exit; there may also be temporary problems moving money in and out of the EU.
6. Try to have a financial backstop
- If at all possible, try and make sure you have access to enough cash to see you through two or three months, especially if your income comes from the UK and is transferred monthly.
7. Consider your personal pension
- If you have a personal pension (not state or public service/occupational pension) and have not yet retired, think seriously about cashing it in if you’re old enough, or moving it. There may be issues with passporting rights after Brexit that could cause problems with insurers making payments to those living outside the UK.
8. Top up your medication
- If you currently rely on an S1 form for access to the French health service and you need regular medication, think about making sure you have a good supply of it on 29 March 2019 – if the worst happens and the reciprocal health care system stops on that date it might take several weeks to get an alternative system up and running and there may be short term chaos. Making sure that you have the permitted 3 months of long-term medication would mean that you’d avoid having to pay full whack for your meds while the situation was resolved.
9. Look at ways you could maximise your income and minimise your expenses
- This applies particularly if the bulk of your income is in sterling, which may take a serious hit after a no deal exit. Can you survive if sterling hits parity? Goes below parity? What’s your bottom line? What can you do to turn your income into euro income?
- Create a personal financial contingency plan. Look at ways you can cut your spending temporarily, and at ways you could create additional income. Ask for help and creative ideas on RIFT.
- Get any potentially expensive dental or optical work done now, in case you have to reduce the cover on your mutuelle (if you have one)!
10. If you have a business that relies on attracting people from the UK …
- Start thinking about changing your client demographic. If there is a no deal Brexit people may not want to travel to the EU next year and you’ll need to find new clients if you’re to survive financially. Make sure you have a website in French, if you haven’t already, and that you begin to advertise NOW to attract French and EU27 customers.
11. Make sure that you’re in France on 29 and 30 March 2019
- This is probably not the best time to make a family visit to the UK! Transport could be chaotic, with no agreements on air or other travel between the UK and EU. If you can’t be in France, try to be somewhere in the Schengen zone.
12. Put some serious work into your French language
- In a worst case scenario, we may be required to apply for cartes de résident that demand proof of language ability at A2 level. This wouldn’t apply to anyone over 65 – but even if you are it’s still a Good Plan to improve your French.
13. Think about, or rethink about, applying for French citizenship
- When we carried out a survey in RIFT a few months ago, a majority of us viewed applying for citizenship as a ‘last resort’. For some of us a no deal exit might be that last resort. French citizenship won’t guarantee all the rights you currently hold as an EU citizen (mutual recognition of professional qualifications, for example) but it will guarantee you the right to reside and to work – and as an EU citizen you’d continue to benefit from full free movement rights.
14. Marry a French citizen
- Only joking. (Sort of). Actually, you might be better off marrying a non-French EU27 citizen, as EU rules on family members and reunification are more favourable than the national French immigration rules that would apply to a French citizen …
15. Above all … don’t panic!
- This is about hoping (and working) for the best, while preparing for the worst. Whatever happens you won’t be alone and will always find help and support within RIFT.