Warning over fines for people who overstay 90-day limit in France

British second-home owners and visitors to France are being warned not to overstay their 90-day limit, as border guards begin checking passports and issuing fines.

Warning over fines for people who overstay 90-day limit in France
Since Brexit, Brits are subject to the 90-day rule. Photo: Sam van der Wal/AFP

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, Brits who don’t have either a residency card or a visa face limits on their stays in France.

But while the 90-day rule was widely known in advance – and has always been in place for other non-EU nationals like Americans and Canadians – it was not clear how strictly it would be policed.

Now British visitors have reported being stopped and fined at the border upon exit if the entry stamp in their passport is more than 90 days old.

The Local has previously reported on the case of Kerry, who was fined after her passport was incorrectly stamped as a non-resident.

But several other Brits have reported being fined after visits to France that lasted more than 90 days, in one case for an overstay of just two days. Fines can also be accompanied with a stamp in your passport marking you as an over-stayer, which can make future travel complicated. 

Brits who live in France can prove their residency status by showing their carte de séjour, in which case the 90-day rule does not apply.

However those who are not resident and are merely visiting – either on holiday or to stay in second homes – have only two options; either stay less than 90 days or get a visa.

90 days

The 90-day rule is broken down in more detail HERE, but in essence it gives visitors from certain non-EU countries access to short visits without the need to get a visa.

The allowance is 90 days in every 180 – so in total over the course of a year you can be in France for 180 days, but these cannot be taken together. This is a problem for second home owners who like to spend the summer in France and the winter in the UK, or vice versa.

The other important thing to note is that the limit is for the entire EU and Schengen area, so trips to all EU or Schengen countries, not just France, count towards the 90-day limit.

To help you work out your allowance, you can find the Schengen calculator here.


Those who want to spend more than 90 days at a time will need to get a visa.

You can find a fuller explanation of the French visa system HERE.

Different types of visa exist, but the most common for second-home owners who do not intend to work in France is the visitor visa.

Crucially, visas must be applied for in your home country so that can enter France showing both the passport and visa, so that the 90-day ‘clock’ does not begin ticking.

Member comments

  1. It’s one thing informing the public but someone needs to urgently inform those working at the border when to stamp the passport and when not to. I mean, how difficult can that be ?

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‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Europe's airports chief told passengers to leave time for delays this summer as the air travel industry struggles to meet surging demand after the pandemic.

'Arrive early': Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

“The clear conjunction of a much quicker recovery with a very tight labour market is creating a lot of problems,” Olivier Jankovec, head of the Europe branch of the Airports Council International (ACI), told AFP.

He said there were issues from airports to airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls, but insisted: “The system still works”.

READ ALSO: Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

“It’s important for passengers that they communicate with the airlines in terms of when they should get to the airport, and prepare to come earlier than usual to make sure to have the time to go through, especially if they have to check luggage,” he said.

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe – including this weekend – are adding to the disruption.

Speaking at the ACI Europe annual congress in Rome, Jankovec said airports had taken measures to improve the situation, which would come into effect from mid-July.

“Additional staff will be coming in July, the reconfiguration of some of the facilities and infrastructure to facilitate the flows will also come into effect in July,” he said.

“I think it will be tight, there will be some disruptions, there will be longer waiting times.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

“But I think that in the vast majority of airports, the traffic will go, people will not miss their planes, and hopefully everybody will be able to reach their destination as planned.”

He also defended increases in airport charges, after criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines.

Airports face “the same difficulties and inflationary pressures” as airlines, which he noted were putting their fares up, he said.

“Staff and energy is 45 percent of our operating costs, and of course inflation is also driving up the cost of materials,” he said.