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Travelling to France

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Whether you intend to move to France for a few months or indefinitely, you will find yourself immersed in a country defined by its diversity, culture and history. A lifetime is not enough to enjoy the pleasures of a nation that prides itself of its strong traditions. In recent years, accessing France has become easier, through the development of visa schemes for entrepreneurs and by the profusion of opportunities for those who are highly-skilled.

Being part of the Schengen zone is also a strong selling point for France, since a single visa can now allow you to discover the immensity and fabulous treasures of countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain or Portugal, to name a few.

Travelling to France

If you are travelling to France from the European Union, you have a range of transportation options at your disposal. Because there are no customs checks within the Union, you can drive to France without any concerns for lengthy border checks. France and the rest of Europe have very well developed highways and the construction of toll roads allows Europeans to drive easily from country to country, even though the tolls can be a significant budget in and of themselves.

Alternatively, you can also travel via railway. In recent years, the operators of different countries have teamed up to make travel between European states ever more seamless. For example, you can easily travel from Paris to Turin, Amsterdam or Belgium by train. Many of the major cities of Europe can be reached by a single train ride. Otherwise, connections are always possible and are generally smooth.

In fact, one popular activity for young Europeans is to buy a European railway card which allows unlimited stops, in order to discover the historical and cultural beauty of the old continent. It is also very convenient to travel to and from the United Kingdom on Eurostar trains. The company has also recently launched the “Eurostar Snap” system, which allows travellers to specify the day on which they want to travel, but not the exact timing, and to benefit from substantially reduced fares.

If you are travelling from afar, or if you are on a budget, it might be cheaper to travel to France by plane. The low cost offering is vibrant in Europe, with Ryanair, Easyjet, Air Berlin, Norwegian or Transavia (again, to name a few examples) offering low priced tickets to a wide range of European destinations. Most major French cities have international airports, and in recent years, many smaller airports have mushroomed in more isolated towns thanks to the arrival of the low cost carriers. Otherwise, France is served by a multitude of full service carriers, and it is very easy to reach any major airport by using Air France, KLM or one it the partners of the two companies. Note also that there are carriers offering highly discounted prices, examples being Air Transat or Corsair.

Paperwork required

Nationals of the UE, EEA, Switzerland and Croatia can live and work in France provided they are in possession of a valid identity card and a passport. In other words, nationals of these countries can literally pack and unpack and settle in the country whether to work or set up a business without requiring any work or resident permit. After five years, it is possible to request a permanent stay permit. Note that there are specific regulations covering issues such as health insurance or unemployment benefits for EU and EEA nationals.

If you do not come from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Croatia, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican or San Marino, you must be in possession of a valid passport and apply for a long stay permit to be allowed to settle in France. Note that you will need to apply for the visa before travelling. Documents to be produced generally vary according to the purpose of stay and it is advisable that you enquire with the French embassy or consulate in your home country beforehand. Once you have lived for five uninterrupted legal years in France, you can apply for a EU Long Stay Permit.

Nationals of some countries, who do not come from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Croatia, Andorra, Monaco, Vatican or San Marino, may be eligible for exemptions provided they are in possession of a resident permit, or a TIR or a DCEM.

The resident permit is intended for foreigners (non-French) complying with all conditions to be allowed to stay permanently in France. The DCEM is intended for minors living in France and who wish to travel abroad. Finally, the TIR is an identity document intended for less 18 years old people who are born in France to foreigners. This allows them to stay regularly in the country.

For further information, please consult the articles covering visas.

Useful links:

Applying for a long stay visa and applications for a Republican Identity (TIR) or a travel document (DCEM)
Ministry of Internal Affairs – Prefectures
Paris Police Prefecture

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See also

Known as the Pink City, Toulouse attracts not only tourists but also expatriates who wish to live and work in France.
Expats seeking to work in France might want to consider the popular tourist destination Nice, located on the Côte d’Azur in the South of France.
A popular expat destination in the South of France, Marseille has employment opportunities for foreign job-seekers in France.
In addition to it's impressive scenery, Lyon is also one of France's major economic hubs, making it ideal for expat job-seekers.

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