French Senator wants to reduce red tape for expats

by Ray Clancy on July 23, 2015

There have been concerns voiced for some time about the number of people leaving France to become expats and not returning home and now a plan has been put forward to encourage more of them to do so.

French Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret has compiled a list of 49 proposals to make life easier for French expats returning home. If adopted, they would also make life easier for expats from other countries arriving in France.

There is significant interest in the French property market, poll shows

Changes are coming that will make it easier for French expats to return home

Many address the ‘annoying’ red tape that all expats encounter such as only having foreign payslips, often in another currency, bank accounts, child benefit, and setting up accounts with electric and other utilities firms.

Conway-Mouret said that she is concerned that the research she commissioned shows that half of French people working overseas, estimated at 1.6 million, for more than six years don’t want to return due to the red tape they would encounter.

She believes there is an anti-expat culture and the research quoted one expat who said they were ‘treated like thieves when they returned to France. ‘There are often suspicions that these people are fleeing the country, when actually they just want to discover the world, work, study, or move for love. We want to break these obsolete clichés and show that France is a modern country that’s totally a part of globalisation,’ she said.

Among the top issues that need to be addressed is the acceptance of foreign finance proof for renting a home or getting a mortgage. Currently French payslips are often the only document accepted.

The report calls for a drastic reduction in the number of documents that need to be translated by an official translator into French such as birth certificates. Translation by an official can be expensive.

It also says that schools should be more relaxed in terms of registration of children who are still living abroad before they actually move and that the education system should recognise children’s foreign language abilities. Too often they are not given help if their French is behind their peers or are left being bored in a class where they are proficient in another language.

Big companies should be compelled to provide a phone number for enquiries that can be accessed from abroad. Not all utility companies do so, which can make it difficult when planning a move to sort out the connection of services.

Conway-Mouret said that having spent 25 years in Ireland she understands the expat point of view. ‘There’s too much energy wasted on endless meetings and appointments, and needing to produce 10 times too many documents at every stage,’ she explained.

She regards it as unacceptable that 57% of French expats were concerned about getting back into France’s health system if they were to move home, 54% were worried about finding a job and 54% had concerns about finding a home.

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