If you wish to visit France with the purpose of tourism for a period shorter than 90 days, depending on your nationality, you might be required to obtain a France Tourist visa first.
The French Tourist visa permits you to stay in France for 90 days at most per a period of 180 days. Aside from the cases when your visa is marked as a Limited Territorial Validity visa, in general, you are permitted to travel with this visa to the other Schengen countries within that period.
Who needs a France Tourist Visa?
Whether you need or you do not need a short-stay visa to visit European France or its overseas territories, collectivities, departments, and regions, it all depends on your nationality.
If you are a national of Andorra, Monaco or Switzerland, or any of the European Union member states or the European Economic Area member states, then you do not need any type of visa to enter France as a tourist and remain there.
You will not need to obtain a French tourist visa either if you are a national of one of the countries listed here.
If you do not belong to any of the countries mentioned and listed above then you will probably have to obtain a visa in order to be allowed to enter France.
Things to Consider Before Applying for a French Tourist Visa
Before you apply for a French tourist visa you should:
- Check your passport. Make sure your passport meets the validity requirement. If not, apply for a new one before you apply for a visa.
- Book your flight in time. Do not leave it for the night before your visa appointment after you have completed everything else. You may fail to find a place on a flight on your intended date.
- Make sure everything is as required. Do not tell yourself “Maybe they won’t notice this,” or “they can’t make a huge deal out of such a small detail.” The consular officers check everything with the utmost attention, so you’d better follow all procedures and meet all requirements.
When Can I Submit the Application?
Submitting the application file at the right time is crucial for a positive outcome on your France Tourist Visa application. According to the France tourist visa rules the earliest that you can make the application is six months before your booked flight to France.
On the other hand, the latest you can do so is two weeks before the date of your intended trip.
Where Should I Lodge my Application for a France Tourist Visa?
According to the French authorities in your country of residence and how they have regulated visa admission, you may have to submit your application at:
- The consular section of the French embassy in your country.
- A French consulate in your country.
- A third party visa-processing center, to which France has outsourced visa submission in your country.
- The French embassy/consulate/visa processing-center in a neighboring country, to which French authorities in your country of residence have outsourced visa submission.
What if I have to travel to other countries besides France?
If you will be traveling to the Schengen Area to visit other countries aside from France, then you might have to apply to another embassy, rather in that of France. This might sound a bit complicated to many, but actually, it is very simple.
First of all, list the countries you are planning to visit and write the number of days you are going to spend in each country. Apply at the embassy where you are planning to spend most days. I.e. if you are visiting Germany and France, and you will be spending three days in the first and five in the latter, then you will have to apply at the embassy of the country where you will be spending more days, in this case in France.
On the other hand, if you will be spending an equal amount of days in two countries or more, i.e. two in France, two in Germany, two in Switzerland, then you will have to apply at the embassy of the country where you will be landing first.
How to Obtain a French Tourist Visa?
The application process for a French Tourist visa might seem complicated and frustrating, especially for people who have never had to obtain a visa before. However, if you make a list of the steps you have to take and follow them slowly, then you will easily achieve your goal and obtain the visa:
- Complete the French Tourist Schengen visa application form.
- Collect the required documents.
- Book an appointment.
- Pay the fees.
- Show up at the appointment.
Complete the French Tourist Schengen visa application form
You can find the France tourist visa application form at the website of the France embassy in your home country. If you do not, then you can require a form to be sent to you online through email by the embassy.
Fulfill the application form with honest and correct information. Keep in mind that the information you give in this form must comply with that in the other documents, otherwise, your application most probably will be rejected. Do not forget to print it twice, and sign both copies at the end.
Collect the required documents
After the completing application form, collect the required documents for a France tourist visa. Take care to have each document in original and copy. Do not miss even one document on the day of your appointment since that might result in the refusal of your application.
You should submit the following documents to apply for a Tourist visa for France:
- Completed French Tourist Visa Application Form. Make sure you complete the right form, and the information you provide is correct.
- Two passport-style photos. They must be no older than three months.
- Your valid passport. It must have been issued within the last 10 years and valid for a minimum of 3 months after the end of your planned stay in France. The passport must have at least two blank pages in order to be able to put the visa sticker on it.
- Copies of older visas. If you have ever held any visa to any country in the world, submit copies of those visas.
- Travel Medical Insurance covers a minimum of €30,000 for your entire stay in France and the Schengen.
- Certificate of criminal record of the home country– showing that candidate has no open crime case involvement
- Proof of paid visa fee.
- Travel Itinerary. This is a document that shows what you will be doing in France, when you will arrive and when you will leave, and includes proof of arranged transportation as i.e. plane tickets booking and hotel booking.
- Proof of Accommodation in France. It can be a hotel/ hostel booking, or a letter of invitation if you are planning to stay over at friends or relatives.
- Means of subsistence. Proof that you have the financial means to cover your whole stay in France and other Schengen countries if you are planning to. This could be: a bank statement no older than three days covering the last three months or a scholarship certificate stating how much you will be receiving during your whole stay.
Book an appointment
You will need to book an appointment for your interview with a consular officer of the French embassy. The interview is a must for every applicant over the age of 12. Book the interview online at the website of the France embassy or consulate in your country. If that option is not available in your country, then you will have to go to the embassy to schedule an appointment.
Pay the fees
You will have to pay the visa fee before you attend the interview on the day of your appointment, at the embassy, consulate, or visa application center. The fee for a French tourist visa is €80.
You will have to pay the fee in euros or the local currency, according to the exchange rates applied by the embassy.
On the day of the appointment
On the day of your appointment, show up on time at the France embassy, consulate or visa application center. Getting there late might result with the cancellation of your appointment, and then you will have to schedule another appointment and wait for your turn.
Wear something you will be comfortable with, but that looks a bit more official. Try not to be nervous. Arrange your documents prior to your meeting with the consular officer, so you will not have a mess in your hands during the meeting. The interviewer will ask some questions regarding your trip to France, the purpose of travel etc. In general, this interview lasts less than 10 minutes.
France Tourist Visa Validity
The validity of your visa depends on the French embassy that issued it to you. The maximal validity of a French tourist visa can be three months, within half a year.
Now the embassy may issue you a visa for the required period, i.e. ten days, three weeks, or even three or five days. On the other hand, you can still get a multiple entry 3 months valid visa, in particular, if you are a frequent traveler to the Schengen territory.
Can I visit Other Countries in Europe?
If the visa sticker in your passport says “Schengen States” or “États Schengen” or the same words in another EU language, then you can travel in the whole Schengen territory with that visa, as soon as it becomes valid.
On the other hand, if your visa says “Schengen states (-the acronym of a country)” it means you cannot visit only that particular country i.e. “Schengen states (-ES)” it means you can visit all the Schengen states but Spain. You can also receive a visa that includes only the acronyms of the states you are permitted to visit i.e. “F, FIN, GR”, which means you can only visit France, Finland, and Greece.
Tips for Traveling With a France Tourist Visa
You may be an experienced traveler, or at least you have previously been to France as a tourist. Yet, some extra tips may be quite handy for you. After you receive your France tourist visa:
- Make a list of the places you want to see in France. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Arch of Triumph, these are of course things every person in France with a tourist visa wants to see. Yet, you should know that traveling from one place to the other will take time. Therefore, instead of just going from the Eiffel Tower to the Arch of Triumph, you should take the time to visit the places in between. That my friend, is called good trip planning.
- Pack according to the weather. You should pack according to the temperatures in France. Still, always take with you at least an outfit for colder weather, and one for warmer days than foreseen.
- Take comfy shoes with you. You may have to do a lot of walking.
When in France with a tourist visa:
- Keep cash. In most places, you can pay with a card, but in others, you may have to pay in cash, in particular, in smaller shops and restaurants.
- Be careful of pickpocketing. Especially in crowded places as museums and highly frequented streets. They may come from behind of you, or snatch your wallet or phone out of your hands. Keep these things always close.
- Try the street food. Whether it is a baguette sandwich, grilled cheese, or crêpes, you should try at least one of them. Visiting France is meaningless if you do not take the time to taste street food.