Victoria, our MD, started the process of applying for French nationality in 2016 via naturalisation. She has been here a long time and had felt for a while that obtaining French nationality would represent the level of her integration and committment to her life in France, as well as entitling her to vote in all elections, something that is very important to her. She obtained it, via the Prefect's Office, 'Préfecture', in Toulouse in September 2017.
Following the referendum vote obtaining French nationality was of the upmost importance to Victoria and the agency due to the fact that Victoria is the MD and holder of the agency licence, 'carte professionnelle', which is a legal requirement to run an estate agency in France. There are criteria to be met to obtain a licence as it is a regulated profession with the licence being renewed every 3 years. The rules are not the same for obtaining this licence between EU and non-EU citizens so becoming French was absolutely necessary for Victoria.
For other of our teams members, Philippa obtained her 5 year residence permit last year. It is the local Prefect's office in the Gers (32) that processes the application for residence permits. This guarantees her right to live and work here in France. She is now applying for her permanent permit having been here for 5 years now. The process has been straightforward and quick. The people at the Prefect's Office have been pleasant to deal with and helpful. Philippa is also in the process of exchanging her driving licence for a French one, a largely on-line procedure which has so far proved relatively simple. In the event of a 'no deal' Brexit British driving licences may well no longer be valid in France so this aspect was also essential for Philippa to ensure no difficulties in the immediate term and reducing the risk of delays later on if left to the last minute...
Neelam attended the Tarbes (65 - Hautes Pyrénées) Prefect's Office the other day as this is where she lives (she looks after the Trie-sur-Baïse area). She was intending to apply just for her residence permit but the very helpful and open lady who met with her said that she meets the criteria in terms of time spent in France for applying for nationality and that she more than meets the language requirement as they chatted at length! She advised her to submit her French nationality application at the same time.
Talking with British ex-pat friends and clients (all sorts of profiles - working, retired, students) here in the Gers and Hautes-Pyrénées, by and large their experiences seem to mirror ours, namely that the authorities have been welcoming and helpful with not too many obstacles (other than the usual form-filling and paper trails which they have assisted them through for the most part). This is good to know in these uncertain times! Toulouse is a big city with big city considerations so Victoria found the Prefect's Office there somewhat less friendly and open, let's put it that way..., but she got there in the end, as did a number of other ex-pats she knows living locally, some of whom she met at her official ceremony (the champagne and canapés were really rather good, exactly what one would expect from the Gers with its great food, wine and hospitality).
If you would like to talk to us about your concerns we are more than happy to share our experiences and knowledge. Just get in touch!