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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

First time post and thank you in advance for any responses.

My wife and I have sold our property in the UK and are looking to move to France before 31 December 2020. We have a few questions which we were hoping people may have come across previously:-

1. Does anyone have any recommendations for an English speaking lawyer that can advise on French immigration matters? We would be looking to take their advice in relation to the points below and just general assistance around getting the relevant paperwork in order.

2. We will be retiring to France as self sufficient. Whilst we will have savings from our house sale (which we appreciate are not counted towards self sufficiency), we will also be drawing regular income over and above the current minimum RSA thresholds from our private UK pension. We would turn 65 in our fourth year in France but in any event will be drawing above that increased RSA minimum threshold amount from day 1 and with UK state pension to also be available in year 5.

Does anyone know if it matters whether our pensions are paid into a UK or a French bank account? I assume not as the funds will be available to us and declared and taxed in France irrespective of where they are paid.

3. We will be looking to purchase a house in France next year (seeking to rent in the interim - and we note some of the issues others have flagged around this). We would prefer to have in place our application for the residence permit under the Withdrawal Agreement before parting with funds on a property.

Does there seem to be any benefit in making the application for the permit closer to the June deadline next year, by being able to provide additional evidence of regular income etc? Or will making the application after a short period be just as likely to succeed? Our pension is a defined benefit scheme so drawings will just remain ongoing, but maybe it helps to have further evidence of this after a few months living in France.

4. We will obviously also need comprehensive health insurance from arrival for at least the first few months/until we get any luck applying for cover under the French system. Does anyone have any recommendations of insurers who are familiar with what sufficient cover will look like?

Thanks again!

Best,

Malcolm
 

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One small caution, based on my immigration experience many years ago and from a distinctly non-EU country:

Immigration is normally a fairly cut and dried procedure and you may run into some difficulties if you are using an attorney to navigate the system. It's nothing specific, but some officials seem to believe that, if you feel you "need" an attorney you must have something to hide (or something like that).

In response to your question #2, it would help in a variety of things if your monthly (or regular) income is being deposited in a French account, even if you have to make the transfer of funds yourself using a transfer/exchange service. It's how most landlords like to see your level of income in order to assess your creditworthiness for renting their property. Also helps in "proving" your financial resources for other purposes - and if you track how much you receive in euros each month, it provides a basis for what you report on your tax declaration without having to fuss over "which" exchange rate to use.

For #3:
Does there seem to be any benefit in making the application for the permit closer to the June deadline next year, by being able to provide additional evidence of regular income etc? Or will making the application after a short period be just as likely to succeed?
Delaying your application will simply put your application at the back of the line for processing. To "prove" your draws on your pensions, you should either have a "pension letter" (i.e. telling you what your benefit is) or a record of your regular deposits in your bank (in the UK admittedly). These documents will come in handy for things like establishing a bank account in France in any event, so no real point in putting off the application process once you are on site.

4. Whatever health cover you get (and I'm no expert on the requirements, especially for Brits coming in at the end of the transition period), you may want to plan on having to cover yourselves for a good 6 to 12 months, seeing that the enrollment system may well get seriously backlogged early in 2021 processing applications from Brits who moved at the end of 2020.

Then, consider carefully your needs and expectations for health cover in France. You probably already know this, but lots of new arrivals get caught short every year by the fact that the French health care plan only partially reimburses most health care costs. You will also need a "mutuelle" to handle the part of the costs that the national system doesn't cover, plus types of care and treatment that are not covered by the national system (eye glasses, dental, hearing aids, etc.).

I'll let others here advise on which companies and what kind of policy for the "first few months" because it may well differ from what they expect from those coming on an immigration visa.
 

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...In response to your question #2, it would help in a variety of things if your monthly (or regular) income is being deposited in a French account, even if you have to make the transfer of funds yourself using a transfer/exchange service. ...
In addition, not having a French bank account and doing all your banking in the UK, may be seen as an indication of lack of commitment to becoming a true French resident.
 

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For a standard long-term rental, landlords expect a direct debit to your French bank account. The standard requirement for a long-term rental in France is that the rent not exceed one third of your income (though iif you have a significant amount in your account, that might well be accepted, especially if you use a garantor service such as garantme.fr (I have never used them and thus am unable to recommend them, but they seem to have a good reputation). In addition you will need to submit a 'dossier' that shows eg. bank statement/s, preferably in a French account, to document your income (or if you are relying on a large amount in your account, then that amount) and details of your proposed garantor - this, aside from the language and availability of rentals, is what makes it so difficult for those arriving now under the WA to find a rental.

Good luck.
 

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It is even more difficult during the winter months because of the trêve hinvernale , which usually commences in November and makes it impossible for landlords to evict many tenants, so actually having on hand your approval from a service such as garantme to submit with your dossier could make all the difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi all

Thank you for the helpful and quick replies! That's all good to know, I should've been clearer that I will be setting up a French bank account, I was just conscious if there's certain admin things that mean there's a short delay in getting that sorted.

Good point on the conversion rate for the tax declaration, I hadn't considered that.

I guess the main point outstanding is if anyone knows of any good insurers to approach. Just want to be sure that the cover is sufficient to cover what the residence permit application will require.

Thanks again

Malcolm
 

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Hi all

Thank you for the helpful and quick replies! That's all good to know, I should've been clearer that I will be setting up a French bank account, I was just conscious if there's certain admin things that mean there's a short delay in getting that sorted.

Good point on the conversion rate for the tax declaration, I hadn't considered that.

I guess the main point outstanding is if anyone knows of any good insurers to approach. Just want to be sure that the cover is sufficient to cover what the residence permit application will require.

Thanks again

Malcolm
We've been with MAIF for years, both house and vehicle. Always found them very helpful but not sure how prices compare. We pay around 900eur p/a for both, but I'd add that the household insurance gives wide health coverage for outside France, and the car insurance includes breakdown insurance and is valid throughout Europe so we've never bought travel insurance since we've been with them. Definitely worth thinking about what 'extras' are included in the cover and how it might affect your usage.
 

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We've been with MAIF for years, both house and vehicle. Always found them very helpful but not sure how prices compare. We pay around 900eur p/a for both, but I'd add that the household insurance gives wide health coverage for outside France, and the car insurance includes breakdown insurance and is valid throughout Europe so we've never bought travel insurance since we've been with them. Definitely worth thinking about what 'extras' are included in the cover and how it might affect your usage.
MWiltshi is looking for comprehensive health insurance (for cover on arrival). Someone might recall the one recommended by rynd2it and some US expats here that allows cancellations and refunds part of the premiums, unfortunately I don't.
 

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MWiltshi is looking for comprehensive health insurance (for cover on arrival). Someone might recall the one recommended by rynd2it and some US expats here that allows cancellations and refunds part of the premiums, unfortunately I don't.
Ah yes, my mistake. Thanks EH.
 

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I guess the main point outstanding is if anyone knows of any good insurers to approach. Just want to be sure that the cover is sufficient to cover what the residence permit application will require.
We joined the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (www.aaro.org) and bought into their health insurance plan that fully complies with the French requirements.
 

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We used ACS medical, paid just under €370 for the first 3 months each, OH needed another 3 months cover but as I set up a micro entreprise within that time I was covered by the French system. The reason we chose them is that they complied with requirements and we only had to buy 3 months cover initially which could be extended in 3 month blocks.

ACS did not cover pre existing conditions but our previous family doctor in Switzerland gave us 6 months medication when we left so we would only need to seek medical advice for illness. I did within my 3 months and ACS paid promptly.
 

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We joined the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (www.aaro.org) and bought into their health insurance plan that fully complies with the French requirements.
The one issue with ARRO is that you need to be a member, and to join AARO you need a "US connection" - whether through citizenship or perhaps having lived and worked there for a period of time (so that you have the usual tax and/or social security concerns).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks again everybody - that was really helpful and I think i've managed to solve most of the queries! Out of interest, Cigna seemed to provide the best value for money. Sorry for the delayed response - manic sorting things UK end with the house sale.
 
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