Visa for France: Requirements and Application Process in 2021
Soon moving to France to start a new job? Planning a trip to Paris or an escape to the French Riviera next summer? Whatever your reason for considering a trip to France and however long you plan to stay, you may need to get a Visa. All the details about the requirements and application process are below.
Do I need a French Visa to enter and stay in France?
The answer to this question depends on several factors, mainly a person’s nationality, the reason of travel and the duration of their stay.
There are 2 main types of French Visas: those of short stays and other for long stays. On top of this, the French Law divides the French territory into 3 categories, where different rules will apply. Find out below if first off you need a Visa or not.
Visa requirements for short stays
The short stay Visa ("Visa de court séjour") is ruled by the European Law, and is addressed to people wanting to travel within the French European territory for under three months (90 days). It is the most common issued type of Visa, and covers the purposes of:
- private or family purposes.
These apply to non-Schengen nationals, however there are many foreign countries that do not need a Visa for short stays - find out more about these exemptions below.
What about layovers in France? For people having to change airports in case of a layover in France - say, having to get from Paris Orly to to Charles de Gaulle airport - you will need to get a Schengen Area permit, and present both this permit and a copy of your Visa valid for your final destination. If you are only changing terminals and staying in the same airport, this doesn't apply to you
Visa requirements for long stays
Long stay Visas (Visa de long séjour) are for people planning to move to France for over 90 days and will have a validity of no longer than one year (you will need to renew your Visa if you wish to stay beyond that time).
A long term Visa for France enables the holder to travel freely within other countries of the Schengen Area, for up to 90 days out of a period of 180 days.
- If you are planning a visit of under 6 months, you will be given a temporary long term Visa (VLST), and in the majority of cases won’t be renewable. This Visa doesn’t allow for receiving social benefits from the French government.
- For stays of over 6 months, you will receive a French resident permit specific to your reason of going to France.
Visa Requirements for French Overseas territories
The Schengen Agreement applies only to the European territory of France, and not its oversea territories. For the latter, a distinct Visa will be required, regardless of whether a national is exempt or not from a Visa for the European territory. And likewise, if a national is in a French Oversea territory and wishes to visit the Schengen Area, he or she will need a Schengen Visa issued by the Oversea State authorities.
Exemptions from getting a Visa for France
Not every foreigner needs to go through this process in order to enter the French territory, as Visa exemptions for France apply to some nationalities, depending on what territory you plan on visiting.
Exemptions from a French Visa: the European French territory
France’s European territory is part of the Schengen Agreement, as are the following other European countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. In this Schengen Area, it is the European Union which defines who is exempt from a Visa for short stays (meaning a stay of under 90 days).
Are exempt from getting a Visa for the European territory of France the following individuals:
- Nationals from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland
- Nationals from the following countries: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brunei Dar-es-Salaam, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, United Arab Emirates, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras , Israel, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mauritius, Moldova, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Holy See, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Samoa, , Seychelles, Taiwan (passport bearing ID card number), East Timor, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uruguay and Vanuatu
- Nationals from the following countries that own a biometric passport: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia
- Nationals from the following countries: Australia, Brazil, South Korea, the United States, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Venezuela. For these nationals and in the case they are coming to France to work, the exemption only stands if the person has a valid work permit.
- Holders of a passport from the administrative regions of Hong Kong or Macao
- Holders of a “British Nationals Overseas” passport
- Holders of a valid residence permit or a long stay D Visa, delivered by France or another Schengen member
- Holders of some permits issued by member States of the EU
- Holders of a special card issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for personnel carrying out diplomatic or consular missions.
Moving to France from the UK, the USA or Canada?Find out all you need to know about the process, pre and post Brexit in this dedicated article on moving to France from the UK, check out this guide about moving from the US to France or read through our page on moving to France from Canada.
Exemptions from a French Visa: the Overseas French territory (Outre-mer)
The Schengen Agreement applies only to the European territory of France, and not its oversea territories. For the latter, a distinct, French Overseas Visa will be required, regardless of whether a national is exempt or not from a Visa for the European territory. And likewise, if a national is in a French Oversea territory and wishes to visit the Schengen Area, he or she will need a Schengen Visa issued by the Oversea State authorities.
Exemptions from a French Visa: long term stays
Are only exempt from a Visa for a long stay (of over 90 days) the following countries: nationals from the EU and the EEA, Switzerland, Monaco and Andorra.
Still unsure about your situation? The French government has a website dedicated to Visas, with a Visa Assistant that in a matter of minutes can help you establish whether or not you need a Visa and what steps to follow next.
Documents needed in the Visa application process
Below is a checklist of all the documents you will need to apply for a Visa for France, some common to all situations and some additional documents depending on your situation and motive for traveling.
General documents for all French Visa applications
Whatever your specific situation, there are documents that are required to complete the French Visa application process:
- The France Visa Application form, which can be downloaded on the French Visa website, filled out in complete honesty.
- 2 passport-format (35x45mm) identity photos, taken within the last 6 months, with a neutral expression and with a light background
- Your passport, which has to be valid for over 3 months beyond the date of return and contain at least 2 blank pages.
A copy of previous Visas, if applicable
- Proof of your civil status (birth certificate, marriage certificate, PACS certificate…)
- A flight/travel itinerary - it is not recommended to book a flight to France before getting your application approved, but you can get a flight itinerary which is a document showing the flight you intend to purchase, with the flight arrival and departure dates, number, airline, airport codes, reservation number or booking ID and price
- A cover letter which states why you are going to France and for how long, as well as your planned itinerary
- A proof of a travel Visa insurance with coverage of over €30,000 in France and the Schengen Area.
- Proof of where you are going to stay for your entire visit (accommodation in France, hotel booking, statement from host…)
- Proof that you have sufficient financial means to stay in France for your entire visit. More specifically, the European Commission states that applicants have to attest that they have at least €120/day if no hotel is booked, and €65/day on days for which a hotel is booked. For applicants with proof they are going to use a cheaper accommodation type - such as staying with a relative - the amount is €32.25/day.
Other documents for particular status situations
On top of the list above, you may also have other documents to get ready if you fall into any of the categories mentioned below.
For employed individuals
If you’re coming to France to work, in addition to the documents mentioned above, you will need to be prepared to provide the following:
- The relevant employment contract
- Your bank statement from the past 6 months
- A leave approval letter from your current employer
- A proof of tax returns: either your Income Tax Return (ITR) form, or the Certificate of Income deducted at the source of salary
For self-employed individuals
For self-employed individuals seeking to move to France, the additional documents are required:
- A copy of your business license
- A bank statement from your company of the past 6 months
- Your Income Tax Return (ITR)
Students planning to come to France for a semester or more will need to provide
- A proof of enrollment in the relevant study course
- A certificate of non-objection from your current school or university
For retired individuals
Retired individuals seeking a move to France need to be ready to provide a pension statement of the past 6 months.
For underage children
If traveling with underage children, the parent or guardian has to provide:
- Proof of the parent or guardian’s regular income (depending on which applicable - a work contract specifying the monthly income, a bank statement or a business license)
- A parental / guardian consent
Note that the parent or guardian has to accompany the child to the appointment to their country’s French embassy or consulate appointment when applying for the Visa.
Additional documents needed, relative to the purpose of visit
Depending on the motive of your visit, you may also need to present some of the documents mentioned below during your application process.
For business purposes
People traveling to France for business need to provide:
- An invitation letter from the concerned French company, with their contact details and your dates of visit. This letter must also state which entity will be taking care of the applicant’s expenses during his or her stay in France (either the employer or the partner company)
- A certificate from your current employer which allows your business trip
- A proof of previous trade relations between the two companies, if relevant
- A business bank statement from the past 6 months
- If applicable: a Memorandum and Article of Association, in original and certified copy (registered with joint stock companies), a Trade License (both the first issued and the present renewal), any applicable proprietorship/partnership documents
For an internship, training or research purposes
Applicants coming to France to carry out an internship, research or any form of professional training need to provide:
- a certificate of enrolment in the relevant course;
- a proof of completion of the courses attended;
- a proof of sufficient financial means during the stay in France.
For tourism purposes
Nationals traveling to France for tourism need to provide:
- if visiting a relative or friend: an invitation letter from the person, with their contact details;
- your bank statement from the past 6 months;
- a copy of your passport and that of the person you are visiting.
For medical purposes
On top of the basic documentation required for a short-stay Visa, foreigners coming to France to seek medical treatment will need to provide the following:
- A written confirmation of admittance from the relevant French healthcare facility, with the dates and duration of the stay in care as well as an estimation of the cost of the treatment
- Proof that all medical fees have been paid for
- If applicable, a letter from a health insurance organisation, and in addition, if there is a reciprocal social security agreement between France and your country, you need to provide a prior approval by the health insurance company from you country to cover the cost of care)
- If applicable, a proof you have been registered on the French national organ and cornea transplant list (provided by the surgeon or medical team).
Accompanying a relative getting medical care in France? You will need to provide, in addition to the required Schengen Visa documents, a proof of the family relationship with the patient and a proof that your costs will be covered by the same health organisation taking care of the patient’s costs.
Find our more about Visas for healthcare in France in this document put together by the official French Government website for Visas.
For a French citizen’s spouse
Applicants planning a move to France to join their wife / husband need to prepare to show the following documents:
- A proof of French citizenship: ID card, certificate, consular card, naturalisation order
- The French marriage or PACS certificate
- The French Family record book
In relation to cultural, sport, filming or religious events
For a national visiting France for an event linked to culture, sports or religion, they should prepare the following:
- An invitation letter from the relevant religious / cultural / sports authority, detailing the nature of the event, the purpose of the visit and the way the participant’s expenses will be covered
- Comprehensive information about the event: the applicant’s full itinerary while in France, the duration of his or her stay, the names of the other crew members enrolling in the event.
While on a cruise
You may need to get a Visa if you are going on a cruise with a planned stop in France. Your cruise advisor has the duty let you know exactly what documents and permits you need to be in order during your cruise and its stops.You should not hesitate to contact your cruise advisor if you have any questions regarding your situation before your departure.
Moving to France with a pet
Applicants planning to bring a pet along with them to France from outside the EU will have to prepare for their pet to be quarantined. If moving to France from another EU country, quarantine won’t be necessary as long as the animal has an ISO microchip and has been vaccinated for rabies and other diseases for between 21 days and a year prior to the day of travel.
How much does a French Visa cost?
The answer is that it depends on your situation. You may pay either regular fees, reduced fees, or find yourself exempt of fees.
Regular application fees
The regular fees for a French Visa are as follows:
|Motive for Visa||Price|
|Visa for a short stay or an airport transit in European France||€60|
|Visa for a short stay or an airport transit in French a Overseas department / region||€60|
|Visa for a short stay or an airport transit in French Overseas territories||€60|
|Visa for a long stay in France||€99|
|Visa for a long stay in France for students||€50|
|Visa for a long stay in France for foreign children adopted by French citizens||€15|
In some cases, the Visa application fees are reduced to €35, namely:
- Nationals from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine or Russia
- Nationals who don’t yet have a biometric passport, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Moldova, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia or Montenegro
- Children of any nationality aged 6 to 11
Note that if your application is denied after consideration by the French diplomatic office, the fees you paid will not be able to be reimbursed.
Exemptions from Visa application fees
There is a long list of exemptions from French Visa fees, as follows:
- Children under the age of 6
- Foreign citizens who have family members that have an EU/EEA or Swiss nationality
- A French citizen’s foreign wife or husband
- Scientific researchers coming to France for research purposes
- Students in primary / secondary school visiting a French school, or traveling for other study purposes or educational training in a French territory, and the teachers accompanying the students
- Beneficiaries of bilateral agreements between France and another country
- Representatives of non-profit organizations under 25 years old, coming to France to participate in seminars, conferences or sporting / cultural / educational events organised by non-profit organizations.
- Foreign teachers or language assistants coming to France to teach French
- Fellows from the French government, foreign governments or foreign foundations and beneficiaries of community programs
- Foreigners invited by intergovernmental organisations in France
- Foreigners holding a diplomatic / service passport
- Veterans traveling to France to seek medical care, and who hold a free health care card
- Nationals holding a French government study grant / foreign governments, foundations or EU study grants
- Foreign seasonal workers
NB: This article is based on the information available on the official French Visa website, France-Visas, and is up-to-date as of February 2019. We recommend that you always double check on the French Authorities website as the information state above may be subject to change.