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Visa & Passport Requirements for France

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Minimum validity of travel documents
• EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, as well as third-country nationals who are exempt from the visa requirement (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians), only need to present a passport valid for the entire stay in France.
• However, other nationals subject to visa requirements (e.g. South Africans) must have a passport whose validity exceeds the duration of stay in France by at least 3 months in order to obtain a Schengen visa.

France is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between the countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most countries of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • Before boarding an international flight or ship, there is usually an identity check. Sometimes there are temporary checks at land borders.
  • Similarly, a visa issued for a member of the Schengen area is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.

Nationals of the following countries : Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Macedonia, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, St. Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Taiwan and Uruguay. Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Taiwan and Uruguay, and British nationals (overseas) may work in France without a visa or other authorisation for the duration of their 90-day visa-free stay. All other visa-free nationals, with a few exceptions, are exempt from the visa requirement for short-term employment if they have a valid work permit. However, this possibility to work without a visa does not necessarily extend to other countries in the Schengen area. For more information, see this website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreigners who are not exempt from the visa requirement (e.g. South Africans) must make an entry declaration at a police station or to border control officers when they enter France directly from another Schengen country (e.g. Italy), unless they are in possession of a long-stay visa or residence permit from a Schengen member state. Their passport will be stamped by the authorities to prove that such a declaration has been made. This government website (in French) provides more information.

If you intend to stay in France for more than 90 days, regardless of the reason for your stay, an early long-term visa is always required for non-EEA or non-Swiss nationals. It is practically impossible to change from entry status “C” (visitor) to status “D” (long-term resident) from France.

Since 2009, certain categories of long-stay visas, such as “visitor“, “private and family life”, “student”, “employee” and temporary worker”, no longer require a separate residence permit for the first year of stay in France. However, the long-stay visa must be validated by the OFII within three months of entry into France. To do this, a form received with the visa must be sent to the OFII with the address of residence in France, undergo a medical examination and attend an introductory interview in order to validate the visa. As of 2013, the fee paid to the OFII must now be paid at the consulate where the visa is applied for. The validated visa serves as a residence permit and also allows travel to other Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days within 6 months. However, a residence card is required after the first year and for many other visa categories that require a residence card on arrival. Contact the OFII for more information.

Note that the French overseas departments and territories are not part of the Schengen area and apply a separate immigration regime to metropolitan France.

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