Reader question: Passport control gave me a stamp coming back to France from the UK even though I showed my carte de séjour. I believe this is not right? What do I risk?
Officials of the French Interior Ministry and British Embassy in Paris have both stated in the past that it is incorrect for Britons in France with a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) residency card to have their passports stamped on entry to France.
The purpose of stamping, which is only done at Schengen area external borders, such as between the UK and France, is to make sure that non-EU visitors to the area do not overstay.
As such, a European Commission source told The Connexion that border guards across the zone have been advised not to do it.
“The reason is that with this status and documents these people have a right of residence in the host member state which is not subject to any time limitation.
“The exemption from stamping applies at the Schengen external border (of all member states) and not just at the border of the host member state. In fact, the purpose of stamping a passport is to establish whether a non-EU national respected the authorised length for short stays within the Schengen area.
“However, a member state may stamp the travel document of non-EU nationals holding a residence permit issued by the same member state, if such a possibility is provided under national law.”
There is no stamping at internal Schengen borders, she said.
The Connexion is not aware of any French law which specifically permits stamping of passports of foreign residents of France, though we have asked the Interior Ministry if it can confirm this point.
However, the ministry’s website notes the rule that stamping is only applicable to visitors, not holders of a Brexit WA residency card.
We believe stamping is sometimes happening due to lack of attention by certain border guards.
A British Embassy spokeswoman confirmed that WA holders’ passports should not be stamped, but the embassy understands that if they are stamped it will not have any impact on the rights of the holder in France.
The British foreign office’s France travel advice to Britons living in France prior to 2021 (therefore with Withdrawal Agreement rights) reminds WA holders to carry their residence permit (or receipt of application) when travelling in the Schengen area and to ‘proactively show’ it when asked for your passport at border control.
“If you cannot prove you are resident in France you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area and your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in France,” it states.
The advice also notes that WA holders are not concerned by rules on their British passports needing a certain length of validity time left to run in order to enter or exit the EU.
A Facebook administrator for a rights group for Britons in the EU said: “In France, it appears it just depends who is sitting at the border desk as to whether you get it stamped or not. From members’ posts, it appears to happen more at airports than at the tunnel or ferries.”
She added: “The only possible problem I can see is, for example, if I come from the UK to France and it gets stamped, then 93 days later fly to Germany and they say ‘your passport says you’ve overstayed’. What happens then, I don’t know.”