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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Exchange rate: What are your options if you live in France but have income in pound sterling?

The value of the British pound has fallen steeply against the dollar in recent days and also against the Euro, so what should you do if you live in France but have income - such as a pension, rental income or a salary - in pound sterling?

Exchange rate: What are your options if you live in France but have income in pound sterling?

Exchange rates might sound like a spectacularly dull topic, but if you live in France (where, naturally, your day-to-day living expenses are paid in Euros) but have income from the UK in pounds, then the movement of the international currency markets will have a major impact on the money that ends up in your pocket.

And this is far from an uncommon situation – France is a popular retirement destination for Brits, who will usually be receiving a British pension paid in pounds.

Non-retirees might be still working for companies in the UK, with a salary in pounds, while others have income from rental properties or investments.

So a big loss in the value of the pound against the Euro has a major impact on Brits in France, many of whom – particularly pensioners – are already living on low incomes. 

The most recent fall in the value of the pound was sparked by the UK government’s new mini budget (we’re far from experts on economics, but the reaction from most economists seems to be that the budget is deranged) and has already seen a recovery. 

The pound-euro exchange rate over the last month. Chart:

But while this one-time fall is spectacular, it’s also part of a longer term trend in the fall of the value of the pound, especially since Brexit, that has seen some pensioners lose a big chunk of their income.

The pound-euro exchange rate over the last 10 years. Graph:

So if you have income in pounds, what are your options?

Euro income – obviously this isn’t an option for everyone, especially pensioners, but the best way to protect against currency exchange shocks is to make sure that you’re paid in the same currency that you spend in.

The advantage of the euro is that you’re not limited to finding work only in France, but could work in any EU country – including the anglophone ones like Ireland – and get your salary in euros.

What are the rules for foreigners working remotely from France?

Depending on your employer, it might also be possible for you to ask to bill in euros. 

Work in France – if you’re currently not working, then an obvious option is to take up some work in France – although if you are in France on a visa, you need to check whether your visa allows you to work.

Exchange rate – if your income can only be paid in pounds, it’s crucial to ensure that you get the best exchange rate possible and that you don’t waste money on international transfer fees.

The best options here are online banks or money transfer services, which compete on the rates that they offer, so usually have the most advantageous rate.

Some online banks also have the option to set up accounts in both pounds and Euros, so that you can receive money in pounds and spend it in Euros without having to make bank transfers, which can attract fees.

We spoke to a financial expert who explains the best options HERE.

Financial help – the French state offers fairly significant financial aid to people on low incomes, but while this generally comes automatically to French families, sometimes newcomers can slip through the net, especially pensioners who have never worked in France.

This autumn, for example, is a new €100-€200 chèque energie (financial grant) to help low-income households deal with the rising cost of energy bills.

In addition to one-off payments like this, you may also be entitled to top-up benefits or aid with making your home more energy efficient.

You can find out more HERE, and if you think you are eligible you can visit your local CAF office to ask how to apply.