Updated 11 months ago

France is one of the most-visited countries in the world and the French lifestyle itself is a phenomenon. With a rich history, unrivalled architecture and sumptuous food, it is no surprise that the country continues to attract despite the negative publicity that has resulted from the terrorist attacks the country suffered during 2015/16. Since the attacks, the French authorities have taken multiple measures to protect both its citizens and tourists, and the country remains a safe destination. The visa procedures have been simplified for many countries, so pack your bags and “allons-y”!

France is part of the Schengen group of countries. The Schengen area consists of 26 countries, and includes members of the European Union as well as signatories of trade agreements with the EU. This includes countries like Norway and Switzerland. Therefore, if you are travelling from afar, France can be your entry point as well as your hub to the rest of the Schengen space. France boasts an excellent network of air connections as well as trains running from Paris to Brussels, Amsterdam and Italian cities, to name a few.

Do you even need a visa?

Some nationalities do not require a visa to travel to France and the wider Schengen area. Additionally, holders of diplomatic and official duty passports are covered by different sets of policies. Nationals of the European Union, of the European Economic Area, and of Switzerland are not subject to visa requirements, irrespective of the duration of their stay. Certain ordinary passport holders are also exempt from the visa requirement for short stays. A short stay is either a single stay which lasts less than 90 days, or a series of short stays which last less than 90 days in a 180 day period. For many travelers, this means travelling in and out of France and the Schengen space with no visa requirement whatsoever. For instance, nationals of Australia, Canada, Brazil or Japan do not need a visa to visit France for a short stay. Finally, it is important to note that for some nationalities, a visa is needed if you are transiting through a French airport. Please refer to the link below for additional information about specific requirements on transiting through France.

For regularly updated information about visas and exemptions, you can consult the webpage of France Diplomatie, as well on information if you are transiting through France.

If you need a visa

If you come from one of the countries requiring a visa, or if the duration of your stay will exceed the visa exemption period, it is best to get in touch with the consulate of the country in which you will apply for the visa. Indeed, different countries have slightly different procedures and the lengths of queues at different consulates can vary widely. Short-stay visas are issued for tourism, specific business activities, family visits or certain selected training courses. France categorises longer-stay visas as visas exceeding 3 months, and these can be delivered for study, work or family reunions. There are specific requirements for long-stay visas, and these include registration with the French Immigration and Integration Office (known as OFII in France) and registration with the prefecture of the area in which you intend to stay while in France, so it is advisable to visit the relevant government website for more information.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.