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Moving from France to London: What You Need to Know

posted: 31/03/2024

Eiffel tower in FranceThe past few years have been a whirlwind, and the pandemic lockdowns have reshaped our priorities. We’re all more mindful of what truly matters; acting on those values can be life-changing. This is especially true when it comes to where we live.

Whatever your reasons for considering a return to the UK, Top Removals is here to guide you through the process.

For EU citizens, relocating to the Island has changed significantly in recent years. This article provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about moving from France to the UK.

We aim to equip you with essential information for a smooth, stress-free relocation. We hope you find this guide helpful!

Brexit Changes the Landscape for Moving Back to the UK

The Brexit vote and resulting policies have impacted the ease of travel between the EU and the UK. It is particularly relevant for British citizens considering returning due to Brexit. While many may choose to stay in Europe, understanding the implications of Brexit is crucial. This information will be vital if you decide to relocate in the future.

Before moving, ensure you properly notify and de-register from French services and local authorities. This streamlines finalizing your affairs in France and allows for a smoother re-registration in the UK.

For those with UK citizenship or settled status post-Brexit, the process for returning is simplified. They can live permanently in the United Kingdom without further action.

However, the process is more complex for those who relinquished their UK passport and became French citizens. They must apply for permanent residency in the UK, following standard immigration rules for non-UK citizens.

For a smooth and legal move, consult the UK Government website. It provides all the necessary information to ensure a stress-free relocation from France.

New Visa Requirements

As mentioned earlier, the rules for returning to the UK from the EU have changed significantly.

travel visaIf you’re an EEA/EU citizen planning to stay in the UK for over six months, you’ll need a points-based immigration visa. Though not new to the UK, this system is new for EE/EU nationals. Before Brexit, free movement allowed EU citizens to reside in the UK without visas.

Unfortunately, relocating to the Island from France now requires a longer process for those needing a long-term visa.

Visa-free movement applies only to short visits, such as tourism or visiting family. Anyone intending a more extended stay must navigate the points-based immigration visa system.

The good news, despite the changes to UK border rules, is the simplified process for those with family in the UK. In this case, you may qualify for a family member visa, allowing you to join them.

It’s important to note that various types of family visas are available. These include visas to join a spouse, parent, or even children.

While a family permit generally lasts two and a half years, the validity of your specific visa may differ depending on the type. A family permit is a type of visa that allows you to enter the UK for a limited period, while a family visa is a longer-term visa that allows you to live and work in the UK.

Remember, any changes in your family status, such as marriage, require you to apply for a new visa promptly to avoid legal complications.

Moving to London: Essential Information on Shipping Costs

While London’s charm is undeniable, planning your move there requires practical considerations. Amid all this, shipping is one of the biggest challenges. There are a couple of shipping methods you can choose from:

  • Air Freight: Ideal for speed (1-2 days) but expensive.
  • Sea Freight: Cost-effective option using shipping containers. Choose a 20ft or 40ft container based on your belongings.
  • Less Than Container Load (LCL): When your cargo is less than 15 cubic meters, it shares a container with others’ goods.
  • Door-to-door vs. Port-to-Port Delivery: Door-to-door is more convenient but pricier.

Remember that two major shipping routes lead to the Port of Tilbury and London Gateway.
That is not all. Once your items arrive, you must secure their unrestricted entry into the country. When dealing with the customs office, keep in mind the following:

  • Prepare a detailed inventory of your belongings.
  • Check restrictions/prohibitions on the UK border.
  • EU residents generally avoid customs duty on personal belongings.
  • Non-EU residents might be exempt if goods are used, owned for 6+ months, and intended for your new UK residence.

Top Removals can help with your international relocation! We can explain the process and help you complete the necessary documentation before departure.

For further details, visit the UK customs website.

Bringing Your Furry Friend: Pet Regulations

cat travelling in a carAre you considering moving from France to the UK with your furry companion? This section has you covered!
Whether your pet came from the UK or joined your family in France, specific criteria apply when relocating to the UK.
Here’s what you need to know for a smooth pet relocation:

  • Microchip: Ensure your pet has a valid microchip.
  • Documentation: Have either a valid pet passport or health certificate.
  • Rabies Vaccination: Up-to-date rabies vaccination is mandatory.
  • Additional rules may apply depending on your pet type.

For instance, bringing a dog requires a tapeworm treatment administered 24-120 hours before travel, a regulation not applicable to cats.
Consult the Government website for detailed information on specific animal requirements.
Non-compliance can lead to a stressful 4-month quarantine for your pet in a government facility. Let’s avoid that!


What can I bring with me when moving to the UK from France?

There are specific rules for what you can bring when relocating to the UK from France. Banned items like drugs, weapons, and endangered species are not allowed.

Important to remember:

  • Declare all your goods to UK customs before you arrive. You can even do this online up to 72 hours beforehand.
  • Restricted items may require special permissions.

Can You Drive in the UK with a French License?

Good news! French citizens can drive in the UK using their valid French driver’s license—no international driving permit is required. However, to ensure smooth sailing, your car needs UK-specific insurance. It is essential if you’re relocating and bringing your vehicle.

Can I start a business in the UK as a French citizen?

Paris, FranceThe UK welcomes French citizens looking to set up shop! Just be sure to follow visa and relocation regulations.
The Tier 1 Investor visa could be a good fit for those with significant investment capital (at least £2 million). The application process requires starting paperwork three months before your UK move. It includes providing proof of investment funds, opening a UK bank account, and demonstrating your intention to invest in UK government bonds, share capital, or loan capital in active UK companies.
Entrepreneurs with innovative ideas can consider the Start-up visa. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Endorsement: Backing from a UK organization supporting young entrepreneurs and innovation.
  • Innovative Business Idea: A clear and compelling plan for your business.
  • Healthcare Insurance: Proof of health coverage.
  • Financial Independence: You cannot rely on public funds.
  • Family Inclusion: Partners and dependent children can be included in your application.

London, with its vibrant culture and exciting opportunities, awaits! This guide has equipped you with the essentials for a smooth transition from France. Remember, planning and preparation are key. Whether it’s navigating customs, driving regulations, or business ventures, the resources mentioned throughout this article can help. For a stress-free move and expert guidance, consider consulting our immigration specialists. Bon voyage, and good luck on your London adventure!


Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Removals for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with moving companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Removals with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.

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