Okay maybe not so much our babies anymore – actually nearly fully grown adults but as many a parent will tell you, they will always be our babies. What I want to talk about is the impact on our young Britons living in France post Brexit. Given that my own children have been here a wet week, by some stalwart standards, many have lived here a very long time and plenty of which were born here. Or certainly moved at a young age. In any event, they are all treated the same – British Nationals living in France.
Before I go into the ball ache our youngsters now have to experience because of the UK’s departure from the EU – I should point out this is in no way a criticism of the French government. In fact, it is my view, that they have been exceptionally generous in the way in which they processed the initial round of ‘Titre de Sejour’ cards. Why do people call them Carte de Sejours? Is this old terminology as the card itself says Titre and is always referred to as this. Peu importe. Answers on a postcard.
Going back to the French government – you often have Brexiteers pop up on French Online News for Anglophones bemoaning said government. Although they aren’t so buoyant these days are they. Remember the early days? The triumphant virtual fist pumping that was going on and the whole “get over it” comments like it was akin to losing a game of Monopoly. Yeah, they’ve all gone a bit dark haven’t they?! In particular, when it comes to asking what the bloody point of it all was. Turns out from where I’m sitting in Lower Normandy, in case you’re asking, none.
So yes, they pop up and like to do their French bashing about how France is punishing Brits for leaving. Yawn. It is like nothing is the cause of Brexit for these people. Everything is awesome. Nothing to see here. It’s like trying to have a coherent conversation with a drunk person. It cannot be done. Just. Do. Not.
In actual fact, the ‘French’ set up the Brexit portal for Brits to apply for their residency permit in English. It seriously took all of 10 minutes to complete and was free. You didn’t even have to submit paperwork or detail your income or anything. A load of worry and facebook group fretting for nothing. Job done.
Many a non EU resident was a bit put out by this. Whilst doing my language course (I will be writing lots, so more of this soon) the various different nationalities on said course did not have this special privilege. And we were treated like special cases.
They, like everyone else, had to queue up for about 2 hours to submit information to get their cards which are frequently dished out for only 2 years and not 5 years which the vast majority of Brits received. For those that had been in the country for more than 5 years, they received cards for 10 years. Alright, some waited a year (my good self included – nothing that an email to my local MP sorted out) to finally get their card and there was no rhyme or reason with this. But that was it. Some got their card in a few weeks having only just arrived on the boat over. I have yet to hear of one single Briton that did not receive their card in this corner of Normandy. And believe me, we would have heard about it. We would still be hearing about it!
Indeed, my own Master Normandy who turned 18 received his card in record fashion. Even though the Brexit portal was closed and it looked like I might have to apply for a visa. He obtained his rendez-vous the day after he turned 18 and he received his 5 year card one month later.
So what is your problem you might ask? Well I shall tell you and more of what the problems our young people now face.
Well after all the obtaining of cards. There was the continuation of the pandemic and very restricted travel between the two countries. Coupled with the fact that Boris Johnson seemed to make it his preferred hobby, to go out of his way to piss Macron off, relations between the two countries were at an all time low. They are not that much better now.
I could even feel the shift towards Britons living here. We were like the pain in the arse of Europe. For example, the UK had said that the fisherman could fish in its waters near Jersey. It then refused to renew many licences for fisherman based in Granville some 40 minutes from here.
Like the fishmen said on the French telly at the time, fine you want to leave Europe (in fact, Dear Brexiteer, the French couldn’t give a toss – no one does quite frankly) but we have fished here for over 40 years, what else are we meant to do? Plus you were the ones that said we could post Brexit!
Macron then threatened to turn the electricity off in Jersey before realising that he was getting down to Boris’s level. For your information, the lights remain on in Jersey.
Then there were the migrants at Calais. The accusations of it being all the Frenchies fault and responsibility. The large retailer, Decathlon, decided not to stock or sell any inflatable boats in and around the Calais area. Hardly not doing anything. And a bit of a pain if you were a local wishing to purchase said item.
France has continued to function very well as a country despite Brexiteers believing the Daily Mail’s narrative that it is in a worse state of affairs than the UK. Like how is that even possible?!
I think, during confinement/lock-down, the UK were one of the last countries to have travel restrictions lifted by France. Perhaps with good reason given the number of Covid cases. Then UK British Nationals could not return to the UK unless they had good reason. Seeing your friends and family was not a good enough reason. Say what?
So yes, essentially France banned UK nationals returning to their home country from 17 December 2021. Hence a hasty return on my part and a mass exodus at the port of Dieppe. So it is safe to say the relations were and are probably at an all time low. Thankfully the Normandy people dislike Parisians more than anyone else – not to offend any Parisians, it just keeps me under the radar for a bit longer. Thank you Parisians of Normandy.
The problems we now encounter, for the vast majority of our under 18s, is the lack of knowledge that they do not need a Titre de Sejour. Bypassing on line systems that request a Titre de Sejour as soon as “non EU” is input. As they are transiting from 17 to 18 they become fully fledged adults and need a Titre de Sejour immediately.
Here are a few examples of the difficulties they are experiencing.-
I can use my own son as an example. In 2021, Master Normandy returned alone from Portsmouth to Caen (as I did not want him to miss any school should we get locked down in the UK).
He had on him his Carte Vitale, his school report, several attestations that he lived here, covid free etc, a facture/bill in my name, a copy of my passport, a copy of my Titre de Sejour. He was held for 45 minutes by douanes (customs) and told in no uncertain terms that he could not prove he lived in France. WTAF.
Despite telling them, in fluent French, that what else did he need to prove he was resident? He also did not have a Titre de Sejour because he was under 18 and did not need one. My friend waited anxiously as they refused to let him through and wanted to put him back on the boat. Eventually he was let through but not a pleasant experience for Master Normandy.
This also happens to parents across the country at various ports and airports -demanding that young children have a DCEM card despite their parents having a Titre de Sejour. This is such a joke. It costs 50 euros – the children already have a passport. You can apply on line but then you have to go and get the card. Some have this card, some don’t and here’s what they say
Foreign minors are not required to have a residence permit to stay in France. Well that should be the end of it then!
However to facilitate their travels outside France they need to apply for a travel document for foreign minors (DCEM). Why doesn’t the passport facilitate their travels?!
The DCEM certifies the regularity of the minor’s stay in France and allows him/her to return to France or to the external borders of the Schengen area after a trip abroad without the need to obtain a visa.
When did children need a VISA to return to the country they live in? This is such a money making nonsense. This eliminates the need for a child going to school to have a VISA?!
So it has become a lottery whether or not – you will get a right grilling for not having one of these cards, or get your passport stamped, roughed up (I jest or maybe hope?!) You can only stay 90 days if you do not have a Titre de Sejour but even if you do, they stamp it anyway! Not a problem until….er…it becomes a problem.
I suspect drug traffickers get a better rap at the ports than post Brexit Brits or certainly feel more relaxed at any rate! Like seriously, all we’re trying to do is leave and return – but you’re made us all feel like we’ve got a year’s supply of class A drugs on us!
Don’t even get me started on the bounty of goods we now can’t bring back (hiding bacon and cheddar like the trafficker above). We are all guilty of being Cadbury and bacon smugglers that’s for sure. Maybe they should have a special sausage, bacon and dairy milk prison for naughty Brits – in Jersey. Preferably with the lights on. For the love of god isn’t there more important things to be preoccupied with? But, hey, it’s our own country’s decision. We had freedom of movement and now we don’t. France didn’t ask for this pantomime either.
Miss Normandy flew out from Paris to Gatwick and back again in the summer. No questions asked guv, however, she is due to go on a school trip to December via, yarp you guessed it, Caen. The scene of the interrogation with Master Normandy. Hopefully the fact she is with her school, sans Titre de Sejour will be sufficient evidence that she does, in fact, live here and she hasn’t overstayed her welcome given that she too has a nicely stamped passport.
We’re only trying to get these through customs – not these! #cadbury #traffiquers
A Normandy mum has tried very unsuccessfully to get her daughter a Titre de Sejour having just turned 18. Of course, she strived to obtain this prior to her daughter turning 18. Us mum’s are becoming a dab hand at dancing the Brexit tune. The préfecture has not responded and the Brexit portail is closed.
Again there is no rhyme or reason with the different préfectures. It is a lottery. Our préfecture is very good. Across the border into 14 (Calvados) not so – where Caen is dealing with possibly a much higher application rate than, say, us here in 50 (Manche) where it is in the hands of St Lo.
So this lady’s daughter is in a position whereby she has a job offer but cannot take the job as she cannot work without her Titre de Sejour. You cannot get a Titre de Sejour before you are 18. but you can get a job at 17 (and younger). She is essentially going to miss out on a good opportunity because she does not officially have the right to work here. Despite going through the French schooling system and speaking French without a foreign accent. Goals by the way. Never. Gonna. Happen.
The same scenario happened to me – I could not work for a French company as an employée as I needed a Tire de Sejour but ironically (or painfully) to get a Titre de Sejour now you also need to have a job or proof of some form of income.
You can start driving lessons here from age 15 (scooter at 14) but yes, you’ve guessed it you need that pesky Titre De Sejour to take your code, sit a driving test and are asked for it even if you don’t need it. So if your teenager is about to turn 18 and wants to take their driving test they will not be able to without a Titre de Sejour. And the acceptance of this is not in dispute. However, it is something the children did not need before they were stripped off their EU citizenship. Now, when they do need it it is at a critical time in their lives and they can’t obtain it, in some cases, quick enough. Those key things – job, driving licence, university that we aspire for our children.
University Accommodation/Bourse (grant)
This one gets even better. The school year goes from January – December (luckily my son’s birthday is in January) so depending on when your child was born will have an influence as to whether you will get this card in time. If you can get the Titre de Sejour before applying for University in May, than chapeau, but if not a whole stressful can of worms opens up. For example your child turns 18 in August – applications close in May when your child is 17 with no Titre de Sejour.
Like it isn’t enough trying to figure out the Uni application process here and the accommodation that you gotta throw this into the mix. I know of one student, because his birthday is in December and is already currently at university, he was unable to get any university accommodation and had untold amount of hassle regarding his course because, yes you’ve guessed it, he doesn’t have a Titre de Sejour that he doesn’t need.
Returning to France/Studying abroad eg UK
This is the Top Trump of The Brexit Shit Show as a young adult. One mum I know (the one who has the daughter who cannot accept a job offer) also has a son who turned 18 but was studying in the UK. He did have an under 18 card (the one you don’t really need) but has expired as has the Brexit portail. He now, technically, lives in the UK as an adult (despite being in France from age 7 having been schooled here) but now needs to apply for a Titre de Sejour.
Technically this young adult can now only stay in France for 90 days as he does not live here. Now I know what I would do – he never was there guv’ner. As who knows how long it will take for him to get his residency permit or whether or not he will get a card given his absence from France. What’s your income – I don’t have one – you can’t get a job without the Titre de Sejour. And like his mum said to me – when we moved this was never on the cards. Non EU nationals always had to have a residency permit. We did not. The French do not want this hassle either and it causes untold amounts of stress for parents trying to sort this out for their now adult children.
Just because a child turns 18, as many a parent can testify, they don’t all of a sudden become responsible and don’t need the aid of their parents to help them navigate through the adult world of paperwork and consequences of losing your passport, debit card etc. They need our help with this.
If you’ve been dealt this one then you really do have my sympathy. You are in no man’s land. Even activating a British Bulldog Mum might not even cut through this mess. But by jove we’ll give it a good go! And whilst on the subject of us Brits (men and women alike) we are not a nation of people that go down without a fight if we go down at all.
Someone once said to me, you Brits all stick together out here. And I was a bit like, nah actually there are plenty that would happily stab you in the back but, in actual fact, they were right. In fact, maybe more so with Brexit. We do try and help each other out and find a solution to all the problems. Even the ones we don’t like too much!
If our fish n chips are down (sorry it’s late now!) we’re going to rally around and that’s just part of our DNA. We love an underdog. Nothing will piss a Brit off more than a sense of injustice and a catch 22 scenario that has zero logic. edit – actually there might be something – someone queue jumped me at a car wash. That will do it. The scars run deep on that one. The actual nerve…..C’est ça va pas !
I have given all the information I can and suggested other avenues for parents in the above situation and they will 100% do the same for me. We are all in this Brexit boat together and if you want anyone in a sinking boat – it is us. We will be resilient to the end. And whilst I have spent a good many years not being proud of being British – here in France whilst watching my own country’s politics – I can hand on heart say that I am proud of the way in which we all try and support and help each other navigate the problems some families are encountering.
The Brexit Muppet Show continues to play out for us here in France but this show ain’t over until we get another Prime Minister before Christmas.
You have been reading Our Normandy Life!
If you have been affected by any of the above please do not hesitate to share in the comments section below or PM me
6 thoughts on “Our Brexit Babies”
GOODNESS what a farce. And I agree, the French have been 300 times more helpful than the stupid Brit Govt. Boris is a dipstick and should be shot. Good luck!!!
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Hi Simon, thanks for reading and commenting. Yes it was nothing short of criminal but that is how it seems the UK government go about things. They appear to be above the law!
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“She’s back, telling it like it is!” a really good read! Fingers crossed the systems improves, our oldest is only 7 yrs so, a while to go, but seriously contemplating the DCEM cards. I used to travel back and fourth with my daughters kids with just a copy of her passport and a letter giving her permission but increasingly concerned by the horror stories. I try to take FB with a whole bag of salt but by the same token don’t want to be stranded at either Calais or Dover with three small kids. Looking forward to your next post…..x
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Ahhh thank you so much – it’s great to be back although I am super busy with work but I must find the time as I love to write! If I were you I would get the card as much as it pains me to say it – it just might make things easier when you do come to obtain a TDS. x
It’s so interesting to read about your experience, and reassuring to know that it can be just as much as a shit show wherever you are! I’m in Cyprus and while I always say I wouldn’t change a thing, if I’m honest I’d certainly make some improvements when it comes to paperwork and dealing this kind of stuff!
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Ha ha – it certainly is and I know Brits in Spain had a tougher time with regard to residency criteria but yes, like you, I do like living here but it certainly takes some of the enjoyment off of it and also the peace of mind that you are European and don’t have to worry about stuff like this. So yes, thanks a bunch Brexiteers and don’t even get me started on the ones that voted for it then moved here!