Formalities for expatriates

Whether you are a French expatriate wishing to return to France and settle in the region, a foreign student wishing to do all or part of your studies here or in the process of an international recruitment opportunity to fill a position in one of the establishments in Brest, make sure to land smoothly and verify that no important details have been forgotten.

You are a European citizen and would like to come settle in Brest

Before leaving your country of residence 

Visa and residence permit

As a citizen of a country from the European Economic Area, or if you are Swiss, you are authorized to stay and work in France with your immediate family (spouse, children).

You can work any salaried or self-employed jobs (with the exception of certain public jobs and, under certain conditions, for regulated professions). You do not have to have a residence permit or a work permit.

After 5 years of legal and uninterrupted residence in France, you get access to permanent residence. At the end of this period, you no longer need to justify the conditions of your stay (worker status or not).

Conditions of granting

  • You must have a valid identity card or passport.
  • You must have health and maternity insurance.
  • You must ensure that you have sufficient resources for you and, eventually, for your family members, so that you do not become a burden on the French welfare system.
  • You can’t represent a serious threat to public order.

Upon your arrival in Brest


You can come to France to look for a job for a period of 6 months. Beyond these 6 months, if you have not found a job, you may have to leave France unless you can prove:

  • you are continuing to actively search for a job;
  • and that you have a real chance of being hired within a short time (examples: if you have a desired professional qualification or have a promise to hire).

You must register as soon as you arrive as a jobseeker. You can benefit from unemployment benefits if you have previously worked in the EEA without being compensated or if before leaving for France, you received unemployment benefits in another European country (with conditions).

To have the right to stay as a worker, you must be able to prove that you have a professional activity in France. However, even if you no longer work, you may retain your right to stay under certain circumstances, including:

  • temporary disability,
  • or involuntary unemployment.


Depending on the age of your children, enroll them in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school/year 6 to 9, or high school/year 10 to 12.

If they are preparing for a baccalaureate (end of senior year/high school/year 12 exam) or already have a baccalaureate degree, they can prepare for a higher education degree or diploma. For a 1st time university registration, they will have to follow the Parcoursup admission procedure. This procedure is designated to students that have:

  • a French baccalaureate obtained abroad,
  • or a European, Franco-German or international, baccalaureate,
  • or a foreign high school/year 12 diploma allowing access to higher education in the country of graduation.

If they have another diploma or if the training is not covered by Parcoursup, they can contact the institution or the board of education directly.

For more information on your rights, visit the official French administration website.

You are a citizen of a non-European Union country and want to move to Brest

Before leaving your country of residence 


To enter and stay more than 3 months in France, a citizen from a country outside the European Union must have a long-stay visa (type D).

This visa is granted by the French consular authorities. It is valid only for France. It is mostly issued for education, work or family reasons.

Several types of long-stay visas are available depending on the reason for the stay, its duration and personal reasons behind applying for a residence permit to permanently settle in France.

Those wishing to work on French territory must apply for a long-stay visa worthy of residence (VLS-TS). It exempts you from procedures with the prefecture during its validity period.

Granting conditions

The necessary documents vary depending on the reason for your stay: as an employee, student, family of a French citizen or a foreigner regularly residing in France, etc. Check with the French consulate in your country of residence to find out, according to your situation, the list of documents that you will need to provide.

French Embassy or Consulate Abroad

Make your request as soon as your file is complete. Check with the appropriate consulate in advance to find out access conditions to get to the visa office.

At the time of filing the application, your passport must be valid for a period of 1 year from the date of arrival in France. If the validity period of your passport is insufficient, your request will be refused. To apply, you must present your passport, complete and sign the cerfa form n°14571*05.

Other supporting documents vary depending on the duration and purpose of the visa you are applying for. Information on these documents is available on the consulate’s website or sometimes posted outside the consulates.


Upon your arrival in Brest


Long-stay visas valid as a residence permit (VLS-TS) are automatically validated, as soon as the work permit is received.

Your employer will have to take proper steps to confirm your work permit. Once obtained, you will have to undergo a medical examination.

Find out the steps you have to take when you arrive on French territory, from the competent consulate.


©Franck Bétermin/Brest métropole

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