Diocese launches Residency Support Project to help UK Nationals in France


The Diocese in Europe has launched a £250,000 project to support UK nationals living in France with residency permit applications.   The award has been made under the UK Nationals Support Fund Programme (UKNSF) for projects across EU and EFTA member states, administered by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).    

Under the EU exit Withdrawal Agreement agreed by the EU and the UK last year, UK Nationals wishing to remain legally resident in the EU will require "settled status” by June 2021.    It is estimated over 1.3M UK Nationals currently live in the EU, including over 400,000 in France.    

Damian Thwaites, Bishop Robert's Attaché to the European Institutions and Diocesan Director of Communications, has been leading the development of this Diocesan project. He said:

“Our launch marks a key implementing step for work that began last September to plan and prepare a project bid, particularly around the constraints of covid-19, and negotiate a delivery contract. From the start, we wanted to focus effort on the people whose needs would be greatest, supported by our network of Anglican chaplaincies and congregations that could have the biggest impact in helping UK Nationals to apply for residency.  

The huge amount of work that has gone into digital project design, delivery and operational set up by our initial project team, in such a short space of time, has been fantastic.”   

The French authorities are expected to launch this week an online portal for the submission of applications to obtain residency permits.

The Diocese in Europe Residency Support Project will focus geographically on the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, which has the largest proportion (an estimated 40,000) of UK Nationals living in France; and demographically on those aged 65+ who may need additional support in applying.  



The project website provides official guidance published by UK and French Governments for everyone living in France and signposting to other services. A Helpline is scheduled to go live this week to answer queries on the French Government's online portal, and planned project services include casework support on residency applications.  All services are offered free of charge.



The Diocese is one of eight voluntary organisations that have received grant awards under the UK Nationals Support Fund Programme (UKNSF).  In France, we shall be working closely alongside SSAFA France, who support Armed Forces veterans and their families, the International Office for Migration (IOM), and the Franco-British Network. Our project is also reaching out to existing citizens’ groups working in France.

The British Embassy and Consulates in France are working closely alongside UKNSF projects.  They will continue to deliver their normal consular services for UK Nationals.

Bishop Robert said:

“I am delighted to launch our Diocese in Europe Residency Support project to help UK Nationals in France.  The ability to remain legally resident has been the biggest post-Brexit concern among people who have contacted our diocese over the past year.  

I recognise the prospect of applying for residency is a truly daunting one for people right across the Diocese, particularly when deadlines are tight. And it can be particularly tough for older and isolated people, for whom our service is especially intended.

So we hope our new service with its friendly helplines and web facilities will help. Let me emphasise, too, that the Diocese in Europe is offering a service to all. We’re not just here for those who might join us at a Church service. And we look forward to you being in touch.”



In a video message to the Aquitaine Chaplaincy, The Revd Tony Lomas said:

“For all of us who are resident in France, [Brexit] is going to mean something of an administrative upheaval and we will all, without exception, be required to obtain a new residency permit …  it’s really encouraging that our Church is taking such a pro-active approach to helping the British community in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.”

You can click on this link to see Tony’s full video message on the Residency Support Project 


The Diocese is also supporting the work of another project under the UKNSF helping UK Nationals in Spain.  It is being run by Age in Spain a voluntary organisation focused on meeting the needs of the 65+ age bracket.  Their operations are underway in mainland Spain, Balearic and the Canary Islands.  “Given our shared focus on helping elderly people, we're encouraging friends in our chaplaincies across Spain to offer support to Age in Spain’s effort,”  said Damian.

The full list of eight organisations across EU/EFTA who are providing support under the UKNSF Programme are:

AIRE Centre (Bulgaria, Greece, Iceland, Norway)

Age in Spain   (Spain)

Asociacion Babelia (Spain - Alicante)

Church of England - Diocese in Europe (France)

CIFSA (Cyprus)

Franco-British Network (France - Dordogne)

International Organisation for Migration  (France – Brittany, Normandy, Paris; Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain)

SSAFA (France, Germany, Cyprus)


We will keep you updated on our UKNSF project.  In the meantime, if you're in France please spread the word in your chaplaincies about this project, especially among those who may need the services it offers.  Please do also sign-post people in your chaplaincies to the work UKNSF organisations above are doing across the EU and EFTA.  

Look out, too, on the Project website for opportunities to join and support the Project Team in France!