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Retire to France

Retire to France

Retiring to France is often the choice of foreigners who want to enjoy great standards of living and the excellent quality of life provided by this country.

The conditions are not complex, however, citizens from abroad should pay attention to the general rules for this process, a matter where guidance and legal advice can be obtained from our immigration lawyers in France.

A French retirement visa is not in place in this exact form, meaning that one cannot apply for a retirement visa specifically. There is, however, the option to apply for a long-term visa.

Conditions for retirement in France

The retirement process in France is simple and straightforward, involving basic formalities that can be entirely handled by one of our French immigration lawyers.

EU/EEA or Swiss citizens who wish to relocate to France after they retire to not need to apply for a special permit to enter the country. They are allowed to remain in the European French territory for more than 90 days without a visa. However, they will apply for a residence permit if they wish to benefit from state services and aid.

Non-EU/EEA retirees will need to apply for a residence permit, which can be seen as an equivalent of a French retirement visa, although this type of visa does not exist for this specific purpose.

If you want to retire to France, here are a few important conditions to pay attention to:

  •  A valid passport is required.
  • The application form offered by the French authorities must be completed with personal information.
  • Proof of income to support living in France is required.
  • Information about accommodation in France is needed.
  • The marriage certificate is also solicited.
  • The long-term residence in a notarized form is part of the retirement process.

Some foreign nationals may decide to remain in the country indefinitely and in this case, applying for French citizenship may be an option. For those who are not married to a French national, or those who do not have French relatives, the option to acquire French nationality is possible through naturalization. This is based on a minimum length of stay (at least five uninterrupted years) and it is also subject to other conditions concerning regular income and French language knowledge level.

These are a few of the important conditions referring to documents and other formalities that must be considered by a foreigner interested in retirement in France. The process is simple, but legal advice is recommended, in order to properly prepare all the documents, a case where our immigration lawyers in France can provide legal assistance and support.

How do I obtain the residence permit in France?

The Carte de Sejour is the residence permit in France, a necessary document for foreigners who started the retirement process.

While it is not a retirement visa in France in an exact form, the long-stay visa is the one that it is applied for by those who wish to retire to the country.

This is an important document that needs to be obtained prior to the arrival in France. Just like in the case of a French visa, several documents are solicited by the authorities, among which, proof of the accommodation and funds, medical insurance, and passport-size photos, to name a few.

The application for the equivalent of the retirement visa in France can be made at the nearest French Consulate or Embassy in the home country, with the mention that the entire application can be handled by our team of immigration lawyers in France.

Many foreign nationals, especially those who retire to France early, will wish to apply for citizenship through naturalization after the minimum period of 5 years during which they have been lawful residents in the country.

We invite you to watch a short video about how to retire to France:

Reasons to retire to France

There are many interesting advantages linked to retirement in France, and foreigners have lots of reasons to do so. We present you a few of the reasons why you should retire to France:

  •  The low costs of living – It is a known fact that the costs of living in a country will weigh much for the decision to retire in a certain country. The same thing is available for France, where the costs of living are quite affordable for public transport, medical services, foods, entertainment, etc.
  • Affordable real estate properties – besides Paris which is one of the most expensive capitals in the world, the prices for houses in other cities of France are quite affordable. For example, the price for a small farmhouse can start from USD 34,000.
  • Excellent transportation system – the French rail system is well-known in the world, mentioning that TGV is one of the fastest in Europe, connecting not only cities in France but also in Europe. The French highway system connects with Spain, Germany, Belgium, Andorra, Monaco, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, so it is quite easy to travel.
  • A great medical system – the World Health Organization considers that France has one of the best and appreciated health systems in the world. Citizens can benefit from complete emergency services, and free treatments for long-term illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, etc.
  • Great standards of living – Besides the above-mentioned reasons for retirement in France, one should note that the country offers amazing cityscapes, great entertainment, remarkable food and climate, and a good lifestyle overall.

If you want to retire to France, please feel free to get in touch with our French immigration lawyers and find out more about the implications and conditions involved. Residing in France after retirement can be a dream scenario for many foreign nationals. If you are nearing your retirement age, you can start planning your relocation by discussing the main requirements for residency in France with our team. We will give you all the needed details about receiving your pension income in France, tax matters, as well as other important issues.

We can also assist you if you are already retired and living in the country and wish to know more about how to obtain French citizenship.

Taxes for retirees in France

Once retired to France, foreigners will be levied on the pension they earn, no matter if such income is registered in the home country or in France. According to the tax law in France, one should note that:

  1.  The taxes are applied to the worldwide income, as a resident in France;
  2. the individual income tax rate varies between 0% and 45% depending on the value of the taxable income (listed below by our experts);
  3. A deduction of 10% rate is applicable to household pension incomes of EUR 3,660.
  4.  Inheritance benefits are applicable in France, so, there is no tax for beneficiaries owning up to EUR 152,500.

The different tax brackets that apply in France for the year 2021 are the following:

  • 0% for income of up to 10,225 EUR;
  • 11% for income between 10,226 and 26,070 EUR;
  • 30% when the income is between 26,071 and 74,545;
  • 41% for income between 74,546 and 160,336; and
  • 45%, the maximum rate, for income above 160,336 EUR.

The manner in which pensions are taxed can be influenced by an existing double tax treaty between your country of origin and France.

In general, pension income is taxed in France, and also included in this category are early retirement pensions. If you also derive income from another source, such as income from renting property or if you have a small business in France, you will need to declare all of your income for the purpose of personal income tax.

In France, the tax year is the same as the calendar year for individual taxation purposes. Married individuals file a joint tax return.

For individuals who are self-employed, their income is due on a monthly basis or on a quarterly basis in some cases. In this situation, the tax is debited by the authorities directly from the taxpayer’s bank account.

Even if the tax is automatically withdrawn, tax returns are still due, most commonly by the end of May (31st of May) after the end of the tax year.

You will want to understand the manner in which tax returns are filed and the tax is paid before you need to meet these requirements (i.e., preferably before you relocate and start to receive income in France) in order to avoid the penalties that can apply for late tax filing or for failure to meet the tax requirements for individuals.

What to think about before deciding to retire to France

Moving to a new country has unique challenges at any age, and how one plans and prepares for the move can be even more important at an older age, even if young children are not involved anymore.

Issues like buying or renting property, taking up health insurance, and/or making sure that you will find an experienced physician if you have particular medical needs or chronic illnesses are all important.

Likewise, it is also essential to take into account how the move will impact your social life, your family ties, and the relationship with your significant other (if applicable), once you make the move permanent.

Many couples fall in love with France after their first visit and make a promise to return permanently once their retire.

While this dream can be years in the making, some of the most important steps, such as submitting the needed visa and residence permit applications, will only happen once you decide to relocate entirely.

Once you get to this stage, working with an experienced team of immigration lawyers in France, such as our team, can be very helpful to help relieve part of the issues that need to be handled for the move.

As stated above, one of the most important issues you will need to consider is your financial situation once you move to a France city.

Will you be relying on the pension from your home country? Do you plan to make an investment or start a small business?

Taxation can be different depending on your source(s) of income and it is important to understand the tax laws (and the ones for accounting and reporting if you have a business) in order to comply with the local rules and be able to remain in the country. We can also advise on France residency by investment.

Buying or renting property is another important issue to think about when you retire to France.

Depending on your budget, you may wish to purchase a property in France. If so, you may need specialized legal aid in order to negotiate with the seller, particularly if language is a barrier.

Working with an estate agent you can trust and one that has experience with working with international clients may be preferable. Also, the French real estate agent or agency you choose to work with should be an accredited one. Our team of lawyers can also provide you with complete assistance during these essential steps.

Obtaining permanent residence after retiring to France

Gaining permanent residence in France is often the goal of many foreign nationals who relocate to the country.

For persons over 60 years of age, applying for the permanent resident card is possible within 2 months before the first, initial resident card expires.

The same applies to those who have held 2 consecutive resident cards, however, Algerian citizens are not subject to the permanent card, but the residence certificate.

The permanent residence card is a natural extension for those who have applied initially for the equivalent of the French retirement visa.

The application is submitted to the prefecture or sub-prefecture in the area where the accommodation is located and each of these public authorities may have different requirements for making an appointment or other submission requirements for the card.

In some cases, advance online appointments are made several months in advance. Given the fact that the card should be applied for within 2 months before the current one expires, we strongly encourage foreign nationals who live as retirees in France to start this process well in advance.

Those who do not submit their application in due time will need to pay a penalty fee of €180, in addition to the cost of the card.

The following documents are required for the application for a permanent residence card:

  • data about the applicant’s marital status (and about the spouse and children, if applicable);
  • proof of domicile;
  • 1 photograph;
  • the expired residence card;
  • a certificate of honor proving the continuity of the stay in the country (some administrations can choose to not request this document);
  • statement of honor for respecting the principles of the French Republic (for those who have not previously signed a Republican integration contract);
  • proof of sufficient French language knowledge;
  • other documents (for example, a declaration of non-polygamy for those who are married and are citizens of a country that allows polygamy).

The submission of an application for permanent residence following the choice to retire to France can be denied when the prefect sends a notification in this sense or when there is no reply from the prefect regarding the request.

In some cases, when the time required for an answer expires and the prefecture has issued no answer, the processing time can be extended. It is still possible to obtain the residence card at the foreign office in the prefecture where the applicant resides.

Our French immigration team can provide you with more details about these special situations.

We can also assist you if the prefect has refused the application for the permanent residence card used for retirement purposes by individuals aged 60 years and over.

Retiring to a new country offers unique new possibilities and the promise of a different, perhaps better retirement age.

As you enter into this new chapter, you may find that certain questions remain present, whether you are in your home country or in a different one.

Some of these may relate to quality medical care, thus, moving to a country that allows for reliable services can be an important criterion. Luckily, France offers much more than cultural delights and beautiful scenery.

Foreigners wanting to retire to France can contact our team of French immigration attorneys for legal advice, assistance, and guidance. We can handle the entire process and deal with the bureaucracies involved.