'We'll give up our French house' - users speak of their frustration with TLS visa site

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
'We'll give up our French house' - users speak of their frustration with TLS visa site
A TLS Contact visa centre Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP

Readers of The Local have experienced ongoing problems with the TLS Contact website, used to make visa appointments for people in several countries, including the UK.


Applying for a visa to France has become more of a challenge for Brits and others required to go through the TLS Contact website, particularly in recent months, after the website underwent changes.

One respondent, John in North Staffordshire, told The Local: "The whole TLS process is very trying, we're seriously thinking this is the last time. We'll give up our place in France".

This website is used by those applying for a visa - including second-home owners seeking visitor visas to come to France for more than 90-days.

Applying for a French visa is a two-stage process - applicants first complete forms on the France-Visas page.

They are then directed to a contact centre to make an in-person appointment for the second stage of the process. For several countries including the UK, this service is run by TLS Contact. It is through this website that users request an appointment with the visa centre, submit their travel documents (and passport), pay any required processing fees, and submit biometric data (such as fingerprints).

Find more info in our visa section HERE.

It is TLS Contact who submits the final portions of the visa application to the French government. Users should be able to track the progress of their application using the website, but many have reported issues with being able to log in.

One respondent, Tanima Roy, applying from London, said: "The website was okay last year but right now for TLS France, its not working. It's very frustrating".

She said the primary issue has been with the log-in process - each time it brings the user back to the home page.

Sarah Dancy in Oxford, who tried to use the site in the last month, said: "It goes round in circles, in that you log in, try to move to the next stage, and find yourself back at square one. Very frustrating indeed, and no apparent way out of this vicious circle. Then one day, it just worked (albeit very slowly), by which time I'd torn out most of my hair!! It's very stressful."


Other users have noticed that it can take several days for the information submitted on the French France-Visas page to be recognised by TLS Contact. 

"It took several days (nearly a week) for the form filled in on the French government website to be recognised on the TLS website – again, no explanation or expectation that this should be the case. Then several failed attempts on the website before actually being taken to the list of appointment times", Dancy said.

When it came to actually making appointments, several noticed that it took many attempts to be taken to the tool that allows you to select an appointment time.

Second-home owner Helen Claire Gibb in Middlesborough told The Local the site was "unspeakably poor".

"I can't even get into site now to make new application as last one has timed out.

"By the time I have got in to appointments page there's never anything available despite constantly trying". 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What type of French visa do you need?

Others said that part of the problem is that the website cannot be accessed multiple times in one day, leaving many frustrated and confused. In a red banner on the top of the website, TLS Contact warns about this problem, saying "As a security measure, the number of connections and requests to the site is limited. If you connect too often to the website, you will be blocked for a limited time."


However, according to Deborah Perry in London: "TLS blocks you if you access their site too often, but don't tell you how often is too often". 

When Dave Sparks in Southport was locked out, he said he was "told by the TLS customer service that this could take between 2 and 30 days to clear".

This can be potentially problematic, as other users noted that a visa appointment with TLS should be booked as soon as possible after submitting documents to France-Visas. Deborah Perry was told that 20 days was the maximum.

On a general level, several users reported finding the website to be difficult to navigate and "not user friendly".

For example, minor errors in the contact form can lead to the entire application being rejected, which is what happened to Dave Sparks. Eventually, when he was able to submit a new application and log onto the site again, he found that there were no appointments available in the near future. 

Eventually, he gave up on a visa and is now limiting his visits to 90 days in every 180.


Others noted "ambiguous prompts", "out of date advice" and problems with hyperlinks. 

"Links in the site are not apparent, you have to hunt for links. They are not presented as 'hot links', you have no idea which piece of script you have to click to move on. This is time consuming and frustrating", John in North Staffordshire said.

While some users cautioned 'patience', others had practical tips for how to respond after having problems with the website. 

"Phone them," said Philip Hall McMillan from Ross-on-Wye. "Last year it was impossible to get through and messages were not responded to. This year there was no problem getting a reply and staff very helpful, made our appointment for us and solved the problem."

Some also found that applying early and well in advance helped to ensure that appointments would be available.

"There seemed to be more appointments available this year however they are booked for several weeks in advance, get your application in in good time", John from North Staffordshire said.

When it comes time for the appointment, others had administrative tips.

"Make sure all your supporting documents are in order, it is worth labelling the sections. If your not in order then you will be refused there and then and have to start the appointment process again.

"The chap in front of us forgot his original EHIC card for example, he had a photocopy of it but nevertheless he had to make a new appointment with its consequent delays", John added.

Dave Sparks recommended that people "be very careful in what you enter on the TLS form and print a copy before you ask for it to be validated as you cannot see it after that point!"

And when it came to some positive aspects of the website itself, John noticed that the tracking function appeared to work well: "It's not all bad. On the plus side on the website they do keep you posted on the progress of your application. This year our Visa was back with us within 10 days".

The Local has requested a comment from TLS Contact. 


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