French residence permit: guide for UK citizens

Gert Svaiko

Thinking of moving to France from the UK? You’re not alone, as this well-connected country close to the UK has become a gateway to Europe for many Brits.

Whilst travelling to and living in France is not quite as easy as it used to be, you can still stay in France for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa.¹

But if you want to live and work in our nearest neighbour, a long-stay visa system is available as well.

In this handy guide, we’ll explore the various options for Brits wanting to move to France. This includes how to apply to stay long-term, the costs involved and any other information you are likely to need.

We’ll also touch on a convenient and low-cost way to manage your money internationally, both before and after your move, with a financial services provider Wise. Open a Wise account online and you can send money between countries for low fees and mid-market exchange rates.

This could be very useful for things like buying property in France or paying your first month’s rent, or covering other moving expenses.

Learn more about the Wise account

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

Types of residence permits in France

Compared to other countries in Europe, France has a huge number of different residence permit programmes. They all have different requirements, lifespans and application processes.

There are at least 15 separate residence permits that could potentially apply to British citizens depending on their situations. These include but are not limited to:²

  • Long Stay Visa equivalent to a residence permit (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour - VTS-TS).
  • Private and Family Life Residence Permit.
  • Employee/Temporary Worker Residence Permit.
  • Entrepreneur/Liberal Profession (ie Self-Employed/Freelance) Residence Permit.
  • General multi-annual residence permit.
  • Talent Passport residence permit.
  • Family of Talent Passport Holder residence permit.
  • Seasonal worker residence permit.
  • ICT (Intra-corporate transferees) seconded employee residence permit.
  • ICT trainee residence permit.
  • Trainee residence permit.
  • Job search/company creation residence permit.
  • Visitor’s residence permit.
  • Retired residence permit.
  • Student Residence permit.
  • Residence permits for the parent of a sick child.
  • Residence permits for people undertaking volunteer missions.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but it highlights how France handles residency differently to other countries. There are so many different methods to apply for residency.

The France Visas website has a helpful Visa Wizard that will help to provide greater detail on what you need in the early stages. It also provides tailored requirements for each visa and each situation.

Long Stay Visa (VTS-TS)

For British workers not currently in France but thinking of moving there, one of the most suitable options is the Long Stay Visa (VTS-TS).

The VTS-TS is a combination of a long-stay visa and a residence permit. This allows British workers to get settled before making a longer-term visa commitment and go through the application process.³

A lot of the VTS-TS visas directly translate to residence permit types noted above. There are visas for employees, temporary workers, self-employed and people who qualify for the Talent Passport scheme amongst others.

One other important note is that you will need to apply in your country of origin before you enter the country.³

This is unlike some EU countries such as Germany, which allow you to start your long-stay visa application once you arrive in the country.

What is the difference between a visa and a residence permit in France?

A short-stay visa allows you to live in France for up to 90 days. However, it does not allow you to work or engage in economic activity.

A long-stay employment visa does. And the difference between it and a residence permit is that the former leads to the latter.

A long-stay VTS-TS visa allows you to enter, settle, live and work in France for up to 12 months without having to apply for a separate residence permit.³ You need to apply for this in Britain (or your country of origin) via the French consulate.

If you wish to live there longer, you will need to apply for the relevant residence permit.

Can I travel to France with a UK residence permit?

Yes. As per the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, a British Citizen can with a UK passport stay in France for up to 90 days in a 180-day span.⁴

That number counts for every Schengen country, however. So if you spend 30 days in France and 30 in Germany, that will count as 60 days against your allowance.

How much does it cost to get a French residence permit?

Applying for a French long-stay visa costs €99 (£87).⁵

This does not factor in potential additional service fees, which when applying from the UK include a £31.66 mandatory surcharge.⁵

Once you have lived in the country for a while, applying for a residence permit can vary depending on circumstance. The most common cost is a €225 tax charge per residence card validated.⁶

The biggest exception to this is for students, where the cost is just €75.⁷

One important and unique aspect to note is that this payment must be made in tax stamps, which prove that you have paid the appropriate fees to remain in France.⁸

Whilst you can buy tax stamps from tobacconists in France, the easiest and best way to buy the tax stamps you need is online. To do so, you need to pay by card.

One of the easiest ways to do that is through a Wise account. You can get an international Wise card to spend in EUR just like a local, for low fees and fair exchange rates.


Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

How can you apply for a French residence permit as a UK citizen?

The French residence permit application is a two-stage process, which starts with applying for a long-stay visa (VLS-TS). This is validated within three months and then enables the application for the residence permit when needed.

You will need to apply for your VLS-TS in Britain, so it is best to start your application around three months before you plan to go.⁹ The later you leave it, the more you leave yourself vulnerable to delays.

The first step is to go to the France Visas website and use its Visa Wizard service to see what type of visa you are likely to need.

Next, you will need to submit the application online. To do so, you will need:¹⁰

  • Your passport and a photocopy. Both need to be valid for at least three months after your visa expires.
  • Two recent passport photographs.
  • Supporting documents related to your travel plans. These can include but are not limited to:
    • Travel tickets and itinerary.
    • Proof of accommodation, such as hotel, rented building or title deed.
    • Proof of medical and travel health insurance.
    • Proof you can financially afford to stay, typically a bank statement.
    • Proof of professional and academic qualifications.
    • Proof of job offer.
  • A payment method to pay the application fees.

After this, you will need to make an appointment with the visa application centre. They will manage the process on behalf of the French Consulate.

In the UK, the company in charge is TLScontact, with three in-person application centres in Edinburgh, London and Manchester.

Here’s how to apply, step-by-step:

  1. Book an appointment with the one closest to you, pay the service fee and for any additional services.
  2. Print out the notification and head to your appointment when the time comes.
  3. Make sure to bring all of your supporting documentation with you for checking.
  4. At your appointment, you’ll be asked about your plans and your biometric data (fingerprints etc.) will be taken. Your passport will also be taken to be checked as part of the application.
  5. After this, the French Consulate General will make a decision. They’ll either approve the visa, ask for more information or reject the application. Any rejection must have a written explanation.
  6. After the application, your passport will be returned to the visa centre you applied to. If successful, you can start work as soon as you touch down in France.

The residence permit application is typically submitted by your current or future employer. This will happen after your VLS-TS is validated and you have paid the tax charge attached to it.

How long does it take to get a residence permit in France?

The two-stage process means that you will not get your official residence permit for several months after living and working in France.

However, your long-stay visa application will typically take at least three weeks to complete. This should be applied for at least a month (but no more than three months) before you are set to move.

How long does a French residence permit last?

The initial long-stay visa will typically last between four months and a year.

After this, most residence permits are valid for a year. They can be renewed on an annual basis, depending on your employment status.

The main exception to this is the talent passport, which is valid for up to four years and skips the long-term visa step.¹¹

How to get French residence permits for your spouse, children, and family?

There is a family reunification policy in place in France that allows workers on a residence permit to bring their family into the country.¹²

There are multiple ways to qualify. But the main two that apply here are workers on a residence permit, and holders of a talent passport. If you are on a talent passport, you automatically qualify for family residence permits.

Family unification applies if someone has lived and worked in France for at least 18 months. They must also have earned a minimum of €1,383.08 to €1,637.27 (£1209.09 - £1431.30) per month depending on the size of the family, and have a suitably sized house.¹³

Living, working, and retiring in France is filled with opportunities and rich rewards, with a range of entry paths depending on your particular situation.

After reading this guide, you should have a better idea of how this seemingly daunting process works.

With your visa and residence permit sorted, you can get on with everything else for your move - whether it’s getting a mortgage or perhaps even planning a romantic French wedding.

Sources used:

  1. France-Visas - Brexit
  2. - Documents, residence card and travel documents for foreigners in France
  3. Welcome To France - Long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS)
  4. GOV.UK - Living in France
  5. TLScontact - Visa Application Service Fees
  6. Foreigner in France: residence permit - employee/temporary worker |
  7. - student residence card "mobility program"
  8. - foreigner in France: how to buy a tax stamp?
  9. France-Visas - applying for a visa in the United Kingdom to visit France
  10. France-Visas - visa application process
  11. Welcome to France - graduates - "Talent Passport – Qualified employee"
  12. - family reunification
  13. - family reunification - General case

Sources last checked on date: 15-May-2023

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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