Since 1er October, the British – like all foreigners not belonging to the Schengen area – must have a residence permit to reside in France. At the end of September, they were 163,653 to have deposited a request on the special website of the Ministry of the Interior.
In 2020, 136,000 British residents were counted by INSEE. The gap of nearly 30,000 between requests and the 2020 census can be explained by duplicate requests, indicates the Ministry of the Interior, and by the fact that the INSEE census is done in part by estimation. Contacted, the institute did not provide details.
The number of British citizens in France saw a sharp rise during the years 1990 to 2010, partly due to the high level of house prices in the United Kingdom. Since 2011, the trend has slowly reversed, and this ebb has even increased with Brexit in 2016.
Before Brexit, in 2016, France was the second European country which hosted the most British nationals (they were then 148,300, against 136,000 in 2020) after Spain (296,408 residents in 2016, 300,640 in 2020) . In France, as underlined by an INSEE study, the British are mainly installed in a south-western arc, going from Haute-Vienne to Gers while passing by Périgord.
More than 30,000 naturalizations in 2019
While the British must now have a residence permit to reside in the twenty-six countries of the Schengen area, there is a legal possibility to settle there permanently: naturalization.
After the result of the referendum leading to Brexit, many British Isles nationals asked for a change of nationality. While the average was 2,710 naturalizations per year between 2010 and 2015, in the countries of the European Union (EU) and the Schengen area, this figure almost tripled (7,426) in 2016 , before reaching 30,742 in 2019, according to most recent data available on Eurostat. It must be said that time was running out: for any naturalization application accepted until December 31, 2019, the British – then still EU nationals – could keep their nationality in addition to the new one. Indeed, several countries (including Germany) do not accept the principle of dual nationality, except with EU countries.
More than France, Germany has the most naturalizations of Britons. Sweden also seems very popular, but claims nearly 1,700 euros (17,000 crowns) then a Swedish language and culture test. Spain requires ten years of residence in the country to apply for naturalization, in addition, again, to a test of Spanish language and culture.
Germany shows more flexibility : at least eight years of residence and only a language exam are required. In addition, the German administration has reinforced the teams responsible for processing the naturalizations of Britons, indicated the Guardian in June 2020.
In 2020, not all states have released their figures, but those that have all show stagnation or a significant drop in naturalizations, which suggests that all UK citizens who wanted to change nationality have done so. According to the German Federal Statistics Office, the pandemic and its consequences also slowed down the number of cases that the authorities could process.
Thus Germany fell from 13,675 naturalized Britons in 2019 to 4,390 in 2020 (i.e. three times less), the Netherlands fell from 2,597 to 1,360, Belgium from 1,630 to 868 and Switzerland from 868 to 729.