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EXPLAINED: How to get a visitor visa for France

Whether you're just planning a long holiday or you want the freedom to spend extended periods in France, if you're coming from outside the EU you will need a visa. Here's how the French system works.

EXPLAINED: How to get a visitor visa for France
Photo: AFP

Anyone who is moving to France from outside the EU needs a visa, but visas are also required for stays over a certain period.

If you want a long holiday or have a second home in France that you want to spend plenty of time in, you will need a visa if you are the citizen of a non-EU country.

Since January 1st 2021, this of course also includes British nationals.

The French government guidance says: “As of January 1st 2021, UK citizens will need a Long Stay visa if staying in France or in a French Oversea Territory for more than 90 days whatever the purpose of stay (work, studies, Au Pairing, passport talent, visitor, family reunification, family members of French nationals, etc).”

Non-Europeans are subject to the 90-day rule visiting France, which limits visits to 90 days in every 180.

Find out about how the 90-day rule works HERE.

Anyone who wants to do paid work in France – even if they are staying for less than 90 days – will also likely need a visa – find out more HERE.

But for people who just want to spend an extended period in France without working, the visitor visa is available.

Here's how it works:

The visitor visa allows you to stay for up to a year, needs to be renewed every year and requires an undertaking that you will not be doing paid work while you are here.

You will also need to provide financial information to show that you can support yourself for the duration of your stay (more on that below).

What about second home owners?

Those who own property in France are not exempt from the visa requirement and must choose between either limiting their stays to less than 90 days per 180, or applying for a visa.

The French government says of second-home owners: “If you are spending between three and six months a year in France in total, you are not considered as a resident in France and cannot apply for a carte de séjour under the withdrawal agreement. You will have to apply for a temporary visitor visa – visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur.

“If you spend more than six months a year in France, you are then considered as a French resident and must apply for a long stay visitor visa (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour visiteur).”

How do you get a visa?

The key thing about the visa is you have to apply for it in advance from your home country. 

The initial process is online, you can head to the French government's visa wizard HERE and enter your details and it will tell you whether you need a visa and what type. This portal has now been updated with the post-January 1st requirements for Britons.

You first need to set up an account on the site, then fill out the form with all the relevant details. You then submit it and print out the form and receipt and take that printout along with all the supporting documents requested to your nearest French consulate in your home country.

As well as personal information and proof of ID, you will also need to provide information on your financial status.

You can find more information on financial requirements HERE, but the guidelines figure is that you need around €1,200 for each month of your stay – this can either be evidence of a regular income such as a pension or a lump sum for the whole year – roughly €14,000 – in a bank account.

The visa lasts a year, so you will need to do this for every year you want to spend more than 90 days at a time in France if you want to remain as a visitor.

If you later decide that you want to move to France permanently, you can apply for a carte de séjour residency card, but these are only for people whose full-time home is in France.

How much are they?

Visas are not free, you will be charged a fee and this is not refunded even if your application is denied.

You can find the full list of fees here, but generally short-stay visas are €80 and long-stay are €99.

This is only part of the cost, however. Most supporting documents that you supply must be translated into French and you will need to pay for a certified translator to provide these. Find out more about certified translations and costs HERE.

Member comments

  1. Oh no! I was just about to apply. when did they stop? is it normal that they don’t mention that on the embassy website and still seem to be inviting applications?

  2. I’m a Canadian and have been in France on a 1 year visitor visa since 2018. I would like to travel outside of Europe to see my family when conditions improve. Will I be able to return to France? The government websites say that permanent residents can return but my ID card says ‘carte de séjour temporaire’ and ‘visiteur’

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Macron wants new suburban train network in France’s main cities

Sometimes counting over 1.3 million passengers per day, Paris' suburban transport system - the RER - helps people get in and out of the city without having to rely on a car. According to French President Emmanuel Macron, it might soon be duplicated in other French cities too.

Macron wants new suburban train network in France's main cities

Those commuting in and out of Paris, as well as tourists looking to enjoy a day at Disneyland, are familiar with the region’s extensive suburban train network (RER). According to French President Emmanuel Macron, it might soon be replicated in other French cities in the coming years.

In the latest in a series of short-videos answering constituents’ “ecological” questions, the President responded to the question “What are you doing to develop rail transport in France, and offer a real alternative to [travelling by] car?” by offering plans to duplicate Paris’ RER system elsewhere.

You can watch the full video here;

Macron said that building suburban train networks in other cities would be “a great goal for ecology, the economy, and quality of life.”

While he did not name any locations in particular, the president did say that the plans would concern “the ten main French cities.”

While reminiscing about his grandfather, a former railway worker, Macron added that the project would help to decarbonise transport and ease congestion in city centres.

The RER (Réseau Express Régional) system in Paris is a network of trains running across the region, connecting the suburbs to the city. The network has been expanding since the 1960s. While it now covers a large area, the network is notably less reliable than the city-centre Metro services, with users often complaining of delays and poor infrastructure.

According to Le Figaro, cities such as Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, and Aix-en-Provence have already expressed plans to develop similar suburban train networks.

Lyon, France’s third-largest city and second-largest metropolitan area, has already discussed plans for the Lyon RER, with hopes that it will be fully operational by 2035, at an estimated cost of between €1.4 and €7 billion.

As for when, the President did not give a timeline, but the Elysée told Le Figaro that the first step would be for “the orientation council for transport infrastructure” to identify which projects could be “launched first.”

The project will also be steered by France’s Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, the former Minister of Transport. When she was in this role, Borne had submitted plans to develop RER systems in different French cities.

The project to add suburban train networks across the country was met with support from the current Transport Minister, Clément Beaune, who welcomed the plans as a “major ecological and social transformation for the coming decade.”

However, not everyone is convinced. Some, like the Mayor of Cébazat in Puy-de-Dôme, have already questioned whether the Paris region concept, which would require heavy investment, could effectively be replicated smaller cities.

“It must be fully efficient,” the Mayor, who is also an expert in transportation, told Le Parisien.