Rules regarding visas and residency permits vary according to your country of origin, the length of your stay and your activity in France. The different procedures are presented below. Find the one relevant to you and do not hesitate to contact us via the form to find out more.

There are two types of visas:

  • Short-stay visas ("Schengen visa"), for one or more stays in the Schengen area for a maximum total duration of 90 days within any period of 180 days (about 3 months over the course of 6 months)
  • Long-stay visas, required when the length of stay (or the cumulative stays) in the Schengen area exceeds 90 days per 180 days’ period.

See the map of the Schengen area.

Who is exempt from the visa requirement?

If you are a citizen of a European Union member state, of the European Economic Area, of Monaco, Andorra or the Swiss Confederation
You do not need a visa or a residence permit to stay in France, regardless of the length of your stay.

If you come from another country

For a short stay, you will have to check whether you need a visa to come to France. It depends on your nationality, the duration of your stay and type of activity you undertake.
You can consult the page "Do you need a visa?" of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs website or ask your Consulate (see directory of embassies and consulates).

If you plan to stay more than 90 days per period of 180 days, you will need a long-stay visa.

Short stay

Your stay in the Schengen Area is up to 90 days (3 months)

You should check the type of visa you will need: multiple entry visas entitle you to leave and re-enter the Schengen area. Be sure to check this, for example before starting a tour with a date in the UK (not in the Schengen area) and other dates in the Schengen area.

We also advise you to mention all the intended destinations. For example, if you are planning to go to French overseas territories: the rules may be different from those applicable to mainland France.

Circulation visa
Circulation visas allow short stays (not more than 90 days per period of 180 days in one or more trips) within their period of validity, up to 5 years. They can usually be obtained from consulate of the country of residence after several trips have been made.


Long stay

Your stay in France or in the Schengen area is longer than 90 days (more than 3 months)

For stays exceeding three months, you need to ask for a long-stay visa from the French consulate in your country of residence.

You will then need to apply for a residency permit within two months after your arrival in France. This request should be made at the Prefecture of your place of residence in France.

The long-stay visa refers to the residency permit that you request from the Prefecture. Be sure that the long stay visa application made to your Consulate is as clear and complete as possible.

Feel free to fill in the online form so we can offer tailored guidance based on your activity and particular case.

Important: During the period in which your residency permit application is being processed by the Prefecture, work or travel to other countries might not be authorised. Check with the Prefecture or contact us via the online form.

Renewal / change of status

Once you have got your residency permit, it is possible to renew it or to apply for another type of residency permit. You need to make your application no later than two months before the residency permit expires (for an application for a "Skills and Talents" residency permit, this deadline is four months before the residency permit expires).

Change of status: this is the application for another type of residency permit, if for example you came as a student and have finished your studies, or as a visitor and you now plan to begin a professional activity. Note that a change of status request can usually be made after a stay exceeding one year.

Required documents for a visa application

The visa application must be made by the individual concerned (one file for each visa applicant) at the French Consulate in his/her country of residence.

We recommend checking the relevant Consulate website or contacting them directly for the precise list of required documents. On an indicative basis, here are the main documents needed for a visa application:

Documents to be provided by the host organisation or producer:

  • Invitation letter
  • Accommodation certificate
  • Repatriation insurance, return airline ticket

The documents required by the foreign national:

  • a passport that is valid for at least 3 months (minimum) after the visa requested is due to expire
  • a completed and signed visa application form
  • 1 or more standard photos
  • the amount of the application fee

Important: When crossing the external border of the Schengen Area, the border police may ask for the documents submitted for the visa application. It is therefore useful to have the original documents or at least a set of copies at hand.

Deadlines, making appointment to apply for a visa

For a visa application you will often need to make an appointment with a service provider.
Deadlines can vary from one consulate to another, but it is generally advised to make an appointment about 2 months in advance, but no more than 3 months before the planned departure date.
We invite you to visit the website of your consulate.