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How to Get a Tourist Visa to Visit France

Updated on February 1, 2013
Roquebrun, France
Roquebrun, France | Source

Visa To France

Isn't France a lovely country, from romantic cities to suburbs to the countryside, from wandering water ways to rolling vineyards, France offers much for the weary traveler. In times past, a visitor would just travel France by passport alone and not worry much more about their status until their holiday was ended. However, in our modern world, one must be aware of if and when they need to take the extra steps to secure certain types of Visas to France.

US and Canadian citizens who want visit France for a short visit of less than 90 days don't need a visa to enter France. However, a passport is required. There are exceptions to this rule. Journalists on assignment, film crews, and those with diplomatic or official capacity passports will need to submit a short-stay visa application. If you will be on a visit to France and her nearby countries for more than 90 days, a Schengen visa may be in order. You may want a Schengen visa, anyway - even if you are not staying beyond 90 days. This is because it eases border crossings between the countries participating in the Schengen visa program.

** European Union Members don't need a visa to enter France, and may have an unlimited stay in France.

Bayonne, France
Bayonne, France | Source

How To Get A Tourist Visa

Travel Requirements To Travel To France

If you want a visa for France, they have more hoops to jump through than other countries do:

  • If with minors, you need to follow special protocols, including obtaining a copy of your Ex's passport. It might be tough luck if you Ex has gone MIA because France is very strict about their documentation!
  • Proof of accommodation is required. You can show a hotel reservation or, if you're visiting friends/family, the friends/family must obtain a special document in France, at their City Hall, that "vouches" for you!
  • Financial guarantees are necessary. So, you must prove, in the form of official bank statements going back 3 months plus at least 3 prior pay stubs that you have $100 for every day of travel in France. If you're poor, you can get around this last part by getting a sponsor. If you're a business owner, you can demonstrate your financial solvency by providing your business license/registration/permit and last tax return (first 5 pages).
  • Medical coverage that includes the words "medical, hospitalization, and repatriation." If you don't have that kind of coverage, you need to get a coverage plan that does. This is where International Travel Insurance comes in handy.
  • Proof of your identity is a must. This will include birth certificate, passport, and prove of your current home state.

Schengen Visa To France

What Is a Schengen Visa?

This is a special visa allowing you to visit freely within Europe. Schengen is a location, in and of itself. You can apply in Schengen for access to the following countries:

  • France
  • Hungary (business, not tourist)
  • Poland (business, not tourist)
  • Germany (business, not tourist)
  • Portugal

But you can't apply for a Schengen visa in Schengen for the countries listed below (go to the Embassy of one of the countries listed instead):

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

There are 25 Schengen countries in Europe. Not all of them are in the European Union (EU).

So, Who's Missing?

The United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland do not participate in the Schengen visa program.

The Louvre - Paris, France
The Louvre - Paris, France | Source

Where to apply for Schengen visa:

Go the Embassy or Consulate of the Schengen country you will spend the most time in or the only country you plan to visit. If you want this kind of visa, you'll need to apply before travelling. Travel insurance is required, as a condition of obtaining the Schengen visa.

You can go to the Embassy or Consulate of the country you wish to visit, in your own homeland, if they have one there. For example, in the United States, there is a French Consulate in New York. However, not all Consulates will accept applications from just anyone. This French Consulate in New York only accepts applications from residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Bermuda. It's worth your time to make a phone call before making a trip to the Consulate, only to find out it was a wasted effort and you should have taken another course of action. (The links at the end of this article list all the Consulates in the USA and Canada.)

If You Are From the UK:

You will need three months left on your UK immigration visa by your return date out of the Schengen area - if you are from the UK. For example, if your visa expires on June 15 of a year, you won't be allowed to travel beyond March 15 of the same year in the Schengen area.

Multiple Schengen Visa:

You can apply for this multiple Schengen visa but it's going to depend on where you applied, as to whether you will be approved or not. This type of visa is for the traveler who needs to enter and exit the Schengen area multiple times.

Tourist Visa Rules

Many times, people who expected approval for 3, 6, or 9 month Schengen visas end up receiving only a 5-10 day pass. Having a standard or Schengen visa do not guarantee your right to be in a territory or country. Always carry the same original documentation while traveling that qualified you for the visa in the first place. If your visa is not for work, you may not work in that country. Leave when you are supposed to! Remember, you are a guest in another country. Act as you would if you were a guest in someone's home and don't go breaking the rules, lest you be thrown out... or worse!

Corsica - France
Corsica - France | Source
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A markerEiffel Tower -
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B markerBayonne -
Bayonne, France
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C markerCorsica, France -
Corsica, France
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D markerRoquebrun, France -
Roquebrun, France
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E markerParis, France -
Paris, France
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    • Li Galo profile image

      Li Galo 5 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thanks point2make. Things have definitely changed for people traveling to France and her neighbors. It's not like the old days when you could just pick and go... I miss those old days a bit.

    • point2make profile image

      point2make 5 years ago

      Very informative. I was not aware of the potential complications in not securing a proper visa if and when required. Thank-you for this very important information. Well done voted this hub up.