Sunday, May 25, 2008

Expat? Well, almost...

An aspect we have not touched on much, but which is perhaps a significant phenomenon, is the "part-time" expat!

Is such a thing really possible? Well, there are those who want to enjoy the pleasures of one or more other countries without making the full commitment and that is quite possible simply by way of regular extended holidays, especially if you have the free time, such as in retirement. Here we certainly see many Brits in this situation who want to maintain the security of a base in the UK but enjoy as much time as they can in France, for the pleasures of the culture, climate, cuisine, etc. - just the same as any expats really.

However, a recent conversation brought home how careful one needs to be as a part-timer in this context. In any foreign country one should be sure of one's rights of part-time residency and what the implications may be in breaking the rules, even inadvertently. In this particular case, this part-time expat said that she loved life in France and that, although she is maintaining tax residency in the UK for access to the health service there, she is now spending "most of her time" in France.

On hearing that if one spends 183 days per annum in France then one automatically becomes tax resident here, this friend said that she is never here for that long at a stretch and regularly returns to the UK for a few days. This emphasises the need to know exactly how you stand in any country because in the case of France it is purely a matter of how many days you spend here in a year, rather than the length of any visit, and that friend should probably be declaring herself tax resident in France - and making contributions to the French health system!

So, if you are enjoying the part-time expat life, get proper advice - or hope you don't break a leg enjoying your alternative lifestyle...

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