Britons who have a second home in France could automatically be granted long-stay visa rights in the country.
The French senate has backed a bill amendment that will now go out to debate by the Assemblée nationale députés (similar to MPs in the British parliament) in December.
Since the end of the Brexit transition period, UK citizens require a long-stay visa if staying in France or a French overseas territory for more than 90 days.
British homeowners who have a residence in France and who are spending between three and six months a year in the country have to apply for a temporary long-stay visitor visa.
Those who spend more than six months a year in France must apply for a long-stay visitor visa.
Long-stay visas can last between three months and a year and Britons must start a new application from scratch once the visa has expired.
The documentation costs €99 and requires interviews with French officials.
Applicants must prove that they have sufficient funds and healthcare coverage for the duration of their stay in France.
If a long-stay visa is approved, a sticker is placed in the applicant’s passport.
The amendment to long-stay visa rules for second homeowners was presented by Martine Berthet, who represents the Savoie area in the Alps.
It states that people who are British and own a second home in France should benefit from an automatic long-stay visa right in the country, without needing to formally apply for this.
France considers a French home to be the owner’s second home if the owner’s main residence is in another country.
The details of how this new law would work are still to be given. They could see, for example, Britons showing a document at the French border that proves they own a second home in France.
If the “automatic visa” plan is approved, Britons who own a second home in France would be given the right to visit France and stay in their homes for as long as they wished, without the current formalities.
The amendment is part of France’s immigration bill, and other amendments, including a five-year “homeowner” visa, were rejected.
According to the National Institute of Economic Studies and Statistics, there are 86,000 properties in France that are owned by UK residents.
Before 1 January, 2021, Britons with second homes in France could stay in France for up to half of each year without facing further formalities.
This group of homeowners in France pay an ownership tax (taxe foncière) and a residence tax (taxe d’habitation), which is paid by the occupier and is similar to council tax in the UK.
The second tax is applied to second homes and additional properties and must be paid by Britons who own a second home in the country.
Thousands of local authorities in France will have the power to apply residence tax surcharges of up to 60 per cent on second homes from 2024.
Those who spend longer than six months in France are likely to be classed as living in France, for tax purposes.