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How to Marry a UK Citizen and Get an EU Passport

If I marry a British citizen can I get an EU passport and open a business in France? Yes, if you’re an EU citizen you can set up business in any other EU country. EU citizen can stay for as long as they want in any other EU country. To get married to a UK [...]

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If I marry a British citizen can I get an EU passport and open a business in France?

Yes, if you’re an EU citizen you can set up business in any other EU country. EU citizen can stay for as long as they want in any other EU country.

To get married to a UK citizen it is often far easier to go back to the UK to live until all the paperwork is processed and you are awarded citizenship. Be warned, this often takes over three years of constant UK residency. It is relatively easy to get a fiance/ marriage visa to the UK, but the kicker is that you often need to return to your home country to apply. I would highly suggest checking with UK consulates in mainland Europe to confirm this though, as Australia is a long haul away and visa “rules” often turn out to be pliable and open to interpretation. Definitely check with the UK embassy in Spain to see if they could just grant you a fiance visa, as there are immigration “rules” and then there are loopholes that appear every so often.

There is a two year probationary period where you need to remain in the UK after being married in order to receive “indefinite leave to remain” status. You need to be living with your husband for this entire period. You need to remain in the UK for three years before you can become a naturalized citizen. Once you have citizenship you are free to move about the continent, and open up your business in France.

In order to obtain any of the above you need to be able to prove that you have enough money to fund yourselves in the UK without needing public assistance.

Keep in mind that you can’t change your visa status once in the UK. So you can’t enter on a tourist visa and then switch to a marriage visa. So if you’re going to make a go for this you need to do it straight up.

So, basically, you’re looking at the 3 year investment of living stable in the UK before you can get that EU passport.

Here is one story that I was sent from someone who did not have a fiance visa when arriving in the UK. I would not recommend trying this, even though it worked out for this particular individual:

As for the question regarding UK visas, when I came over we managed to find a loop hole in the visa system. I’m not sure if it still exists but it definitely bears checking out. I was initially told that I could apply for my fiancee’s visa when I got here which turned out to be incorrect. Turning up at Manchester airport with a one way tickets and 10 suitcases of luggage and declaring that I was here to get married almost got me deported on the spot! They finally let me in with a 3 month visitors visa, then as we were married before that visa expired, I applied directly for my “marriage visa” which gave me what is called “permanent leave to remain” which means I can stay as long as Peter and I are married, however I have no recourse to public funds or benefits should I be unemployed etc. I do however get national health care and the honour of paying taxes here. 😉

It seems as if getting married to a UK national may be the long route towards being able to open a business in France. You may be better off drawing up a business plan and applying for an investor’s visa in France. The problem here is that you often need to be able to show a relatively large amount of available funds — but there are often loopholes or degrees of interpretation depending on the individual who reviews your application.

Keep in mind also that opening a business in France is often very difficult even for French people, and horror stories abound everywhere (just do a relevant internet search to find them). It seems to me as if you may be better off continuing to live on sailboats.


Original question:

I am a 31 year old Australian holding a Australian passport and my boyfriend is British. We have been working on yachts together for 8 years in Europe and various other places and as a result I fall into a void for visas as I have been moving so often. I have resigned from the boat and wish to set up a business in France. As I can not obtain a work visa easily and can only stay in the EU for 90 days in 180, we are thinking of getting married if it helps my situation. Are you able to advise us on this subject? If we were to be married, would I be able to work in France? We are currently in Spain and I am approaching the end of my 90 days. What should I do is the big question?



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Filed under: England, Travel Help, Visas

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

4 comments… add one

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  • Matt Derrick February 4, 2012, 4:17 pm

    Hey Wade, if you get UK citizenship, does that get you a longer visa stay in Australia?

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    • Wade Shepard February 9, 2012, 2:31 pm

      Not really. Australia does offer working holiday visas to UK nationals under 30 years of age and they may be slightly more prone to giving you a regular work visa if you have special skills, but, for the most part, a UK national does not really have any special immigration rights in Australia. You can also get a working holiday visa being an American.

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  • Terry January 12, 2014, 2:08 pm

    I am a uk citizen and i have been retired since i was 55 ( im now 59 ). My income is a small rental from my UK property and two pensions that i took early. I have never received or applied for any sort of benefit or handout from the UK. I reside between UK, Spain and Australia.
    My partner is Australian and is 50… She is disabled due to a broken back. She can walk small distances as long as hills or steps are not involved. Her income is her Australian Disability Pension which she has successfully claimed so that she does not have to be on Australian soil every 6 weeks to ” check in “.
    We have been together 2 years and only been apart 3 months during that time.
    My question is she wants to stay with me without constantly moving every 3 months due to visa restrictions…. IF she applied for a fiance visa for the UK , could she come to Spain when it got cold ( not a vanity thing , but when she gets cold her back in unbareably painful )…or does she have to stay in the UK all the time ????

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  • Anonymous coward January 23, 2014, 7:36 am

    Note that if the person wants to live in France with her British husband and open a business, she can do so immediately. It’s only to have a right to do it alone that she would need to gain British citizenship first.

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