Long-term residence in France is tied up with your type of visa; see ‘Residency’ below. Rules for work permits vary depending on your country of origin; see ‘Work Permits’ below.
Citizens of a country in the European Union or the European Economic Area can enter and remain in France as a tourist for any length of time without a visa. Until the end of 2020, the UK is still regarded as an EU country for purposes of travel. It is not yet known what arrangements will apply after 2020.
Citizens of the following countries, together with close family members, can enter and remain in France for three months without a tourist visa: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. After three months, a visa is required.
Anyone else who wishes to enter France for any length of time will need a visa.
If you are unsure whether you need a visa to enter France, the French government’s visa wizard can help you find out.
These are for stays of up to 90 days and come in three types:
• Schengen visa and airport transfer visa
• Short-stay visa for people from Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy
• Short-stay visa for people from New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Mayotte, and French Southern and Antarctic Lands
These are for stays of more than 90 days and come in two types:
• With the obligation to apply for a residence permit: you can stay in France for three months, but a residence permit is required to stay longer – see ‘Residency’ below
• Equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS: Visa de Long Séjour-Titre de Séjour): for visitors who already know they intend to stay longer than three months – see ‘Residency’ below
Applications can be made online, and are then followed up by a face-to-face appointment at an issuing authority. All applicants aged 12 or older must attend the appointment in person.
Once you have created an account, you can start your application at the France-Visas website, but you should not do this more than three months before your visit. Your application can be saved at each step of the process. Once you have created your first application, you can add up to five more people to create a group application.
Depending on your circumstances, you will be told which supporting documents you need. As a minimum, you will need:
• A passport that is less than 10 years old, which is in good condition and has at least two blank pages. For short-stay visas, it must be valid for at least 3 months after the date on which you plan to leave the Schengen Area. For long-stay visas, it must be valid for at least three months after the expiry date of the requested visa
• Two recent ID pictures, as PDFs in ISO/IECI format (see the France Diplomatie website for details)
Certain supporting documents must be translated into French by a certified translator, which can be found on the Directory of Sworn Translators from France website. You can determine which documents need translating at Service-Public.fr. Once translated, the documents can be certified at the French consulate or embassy in your own country, or at your country’s consulate or embassy in France. You must pay the cost of translation.
Once the application is complete:
• Print out the application form
• Book an appointment at your local issuing authority via the France-Visas website. Your appointment must be no more than three months and no less than two weeks prior to your departure date.
• Bring your form and all supporting documents to the appointment, as well as money to pay your fee
If you submit a group application, then everyone in the group will be called to the appointment.
All visas issued by France are biometric. Biometric data (photo and fingerprints) will be captured at the appointment.
You can track your submitted application on the France-Visas website.
A table of the fees associated with different types of visa can be found on the France-Visas website. The fee is retained even if the visa is denied.
If application fees are received by an external service provider, there may also be a service charge, but this will not exceed €30 per application.
On entering France, visa holders may be required to show the supporting documents, which are listed on the France-Visas website. Spouses of French citizens do not have to present supporting documents.
In addition, anyone who fits the below criteria must present a Reception Certificate on arrival, as proof of accommodation:
• You are visiting France on a private or family visit, to stay in a specific household
• You are not from the EU, Andorra or Monaco and do NOT hold a Schengen visa or a long-stay VLS-TS visa
For more details, visit the Service-Public website. The intended host of the visitor must apply for the Reception Certificate at their town hall.
Visitors From The European Economic Area And Swiss Nationals
You can look for work, and work as an employee or an employer, without a work permit. However, you must be demonstrably in work within six months of entering France, unless you can show that you are actively seeking work or that you have a good chance of being employed shortly. Allowances are made for temporary incapacity to work or involuntary unemployment.
If you have a valid long-stay visa, then you may look for work. Before you commence employment, however, your future employer must apply for a work permit on your behalf – this must be done at least two working days before you’re due to start. Once your work permit is approved, you must take a medical examination. You can visit the Service-Public website for more details about this procedure.
Postings To France
You may be exempt from requiring a work permit if you are a salaried worker posted to France by a European employer, or are working in certain capacities for less than three months. See the Service-Public website to check whether you fall into this category.
Citizens of a country in the European Economic Area, or Switzerland, can stay in France for more than three months without a residence permit, but can apply for one if they wish through their department’s prefecture or sub-prefecture.
Anyone else wishing to stay in the country for more than three months should have a long-stay visa or an EU Blue Card.
If your long-stay visa contains the words ‘titre de séjour à solliciter’ (‘residence permit must be applied for’), then you must apply for a residence permit within two months of arriving in France. In Paris, you can do this at police headquarters. In any other department, you can apply to your prefecture or sub-prefecture.
If you have a VLS-TS visa, then you must validate it within three months of arriving. This can be done online on the Foreign Nationals in France website. Once validated, this visa gives you the same rights as a residence permit but not a work permit.
EU Blue Card
This is for highly skilled nationals from non-EU countries. You can find out more on the Visa Guide World website. To be eligible, applicants must find a job in France in the field that matches their skills and educational qualifications. The job should have a minimum gross income of €53,837. Applicants must have a high level of proficiency in French.
The EU Blue Card is valid for up to four years and is renewable. If an employment contract is for less than four years, but for more than one year, the Blue Card will be issued for the length of the contract.
To apply for an EU Blue Card in France, contact your nearest French consulate. You will also be required to apply for a VLS-TS long-stay visa.
Anyone who spends five years in France, legally and without interruption, may apply for permanent residence. Look for details on your prefecture’s website.