Visas and residency permits

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.

For more information you can also download the “Practical Guide to visas” we wrote for Zone Franche.

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 France-Visas 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.

Multiple-entry visa
Multiple-entry 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, unless you are a citizen of a European Union member state, of the European Economic Area, of Monaco, Andorra or the Swiss Confederation.

Unless your stay does not exceed 12 months and you hold a “visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour” visa (VLS-TS), 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.

Residency permits

There are different types of residency permits, with specific criteria.

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.


“Passeport talent” residency permit

As of 1 November 2016, artists staying longer than 3 months in France must apply for the “Passeport talent” residency permit.

The “Passeport talent » residency permits may be granted to:

  • foreign nationals working as performing artists… or authors of literary or artistic works…”

When holding an employment contract with one or more businesses whose principal activity is the creation or exploitation of works of art, the total minimum duration of the contract(s) required to obtain the residency permit is 3 months over a one year period.

The artist must provide “all supporting documents on earnings, mainly from their work, for the planned period of stay, for an amount at least equivalent to 70% of the gross monthly minimum wage for full-time employment, demonstrating that they have sufficient resources, excluding unemployment benefit”.

  • foreign nationals of national or international renown coming to practice a scientific, literary, artistic, intellectual, educational or sports activity in France”.

Arts technicians are not entitled to apply for a “Passeport talent”. They are still covered by the ”temporary worker” residency permit (“travailleur temporaire”).

Period of validity and scope of the “Passeport talent”

The period of validity of the “Passeport talent” residency permit is determined in light of the reasons for the stay and work planned by the artist. If needed, it may be adapted to fit the duration of the employment contract. The maximum duration is 4 years.

No work permit is required in either case for the employment activity in respect of which the residency permit is granted to artists according the criteria set out above.

Performing artists who hold a multi-annual “Passeport talent” may only practice the professional activity for which the permit was granted.

Artists with a national or international reputation holding the “Passeport talent” residency permit are entitled to work in any field.

> For more information on “Passeport talent” (list of the documents to submit for the application and procedures), you can read the ” Practical Guide to visas ” we wrote. 


Residency permit: general rules

Once the residency permit has been granted, the holder may travel within the Schengen Area and complete other formalities as a resident in France: opening a bank account, social security registration, registration to Pôle emploi, etc.

Renewal / Change of status

The application for renewal of the residency permit must be submitted to the Prefecture of their place of residence no later than two months before the VLS-TS or the previous residency permit expires. Renewal is subject to fulfillment of the criteria required for delivery of the initial residency permit.

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 France-Visas portal and 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.