How to get a visa for France: a complete guide

You want to visit France

Are you planning a trip to France? A sweet getaway to visit the irresistible Provence, a business meeting or a new internship in Bordeaux, a training course in Lille, shopping with Granny in Paris, a week-end with your oh so beau fiancé in Biarritz or a ski competition in the Alps… Whatever the reason, you might need a visa to enter France as it is part of the Schengen Area.

We’ve prepared a complete guide to help you in your process to obtain your entry-pass to La Vie en Rose without making your head spin.

Don’t forget to also read all our recommendations to travel safely to France.

Follow our lead. We have all the answers to your questions concerning your visa for France!

Who needs a visa to travel to France?

It all depends on the nationality of the person traveling and how long they are staying in France.

For a short stay in France (90 days or less)

The citizens of about a hundred non-European countries (such as African countries, Russia, India or China) need a Schengen Visa to enter France. → To find out if this concerns you, read this page.

For a long stay in France (over 90 days)

All foreigners (not EU or Schengen nationals) must obtain a visa to stay in France longer than 3 months.

Who doesn’t need a visa to visit France?

For short stays in France (90 days or less)

  1. As France is part of the European Union and the Schengen Area, citizens of the EU, the Schengen area, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Vatican City do not need a visa to enter France.
  2. Citizens of about sixty non-European states (such as the United- Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Japan, Argentina and Mexico) because these countries have visa-free arrangements with the EU.
    Visit the European Commission website to find out more about each nationality.

    Beware! Starting 2025, the citizens of countries with a Schengen visa waiver agreement will have to provide a travel authorisation to visit Europe. They will be asked to fill out an ETIAS form on line (European Travel Information and Authorization System).
  3. Holders of a valid French residence permit
  4. Holders of a residence permit issued by a Schengen state
  5. Holders of a long-stay visa (type D) issued by France or another Schengen state.
  6. Holders of certain travel documents issued by an E.U member state.
  7. Holders of a special card issued by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs for the staff of diplomatic or consular missions.

For long stays in France (90 days and over)

Only the citizens of the EU, the Schengen area, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Vatican City do not need a visa to stay in France longer than 90 days.

What are the different types of visa for France?

Short-stay visa for France (less than 90 days)

1. The Schengen visa (type C)

The Schengen visa is a uniform visa for all the countries of the Schengen Area. It is the most requested and granted visa. It allows the holder to travel to and stay in the 29 countries of this European zone.

It is valid for a total duration of 90 days over a 180 day period. It is granted for the following travel motives:

  • tourism
  • professional obligations
  • family visits
  • short term trainings, internships
  • conferences, seminaries, business meetings
  • paid work not exceeding 90 days (a temporary work permit must be supplied).

It can be issued as a single-entry or a multiple-entry Schengen visa.

Good to know!

  • You need to apply for a Schengen visa even if you are only transiting through France and if you have to leave the airport zone (change of airport, transfer to a train station, etc.)
  • In certain situations, the Schengen visa can be of Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) which means that it only allows travelers to stay in one country or in certain countries of the Schengen Area.

2. The Airport Transit Visa (type A)

Some travelers (depending on their nationality and type of passport) must ask for an ATV to transit through a French airport to reach their final destination if it is located outside the Schengen area.
They must remain in the international zone of the airport while waiting for their corresponding flight and cannot enter the French territory.

3. The short-stay visa for the DROM-COM (the French overseas territories)

France‘s no- European territories (French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis-et-Futuna, The French Southern and Antarctic Lands and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon) are not part of the Schengen Area.
In order to visit these territories which used to be called DOM-TOMs, citizens of some countries must ask for a specific visa because the Schengen visa does not grant authorization to visit them.

→ To find out if this applies to your situation, visit this page.

Long-stay visa for France (over 90 days)

All foreigners* wishing to stay more than 90 days in France must beforehand obtain a long-stay visa (also called national visa or Type D visa). This type of visa is adapted to the duration and motive of the planned trip.

* Except citizens of the EU, of the Schengen area, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Vatican City who can remain in France more than 90 days without a visa.

How long is a long-stay visa for France valid?

Its validity is limited: between 3 months and a year.

If you wish to extend your stay in France beyond the validity date of your visa, you will have to ask for a residence permit to the prefecture of the department where you are staying.

What are the reasons to ask for a long-stay visa for France?

It can be granted for the following reasons: tourism or private motive (medical care for example), to practice a professional activity, to study, to follow a training or complete an internship or to meet family or a spouse. For each motive, specific supporting documents will have to be included with your application file.

The different types of long-stay visas for France

  • A long-stay visa, serving as a residence permit (VLS-TS)

    Beware! In the 3 months following your arrival, you absolutely must validate it on the website of the Directorate General for Foreign Nationals in France (DGEF) ). If you don’t, you might be considered an illegal alien on French soil!
  • A long-stay visa with the mention «residence card to be requested within 2 months of arrival »: the name is self-explanatory and requires that, in the given time, its holders go to the prefecture or sous-prefecture of the department where they are staying to apply for a residence permit.

How to apply for a visa for France?

Follow our instructions step by step:

  1. Visit the official website France-visas to find out what process you must follow depending on your nationality, your country of residence and the type of visa you need.
  2. Create your personal account
  3. You will then discover what are the supporting documents you must enclose with your application. Complete the form on line.
  4. After completing your visa application request, print it and sign it. It must be added to your application file with the application receipt.
  5. Depending on your country of residence, book an appointment with either the French consular services or a certified visa application center to hand in your application file in person. France currently works with 3 certified service providers to collect visa applications: VFS Global, TLS and Capago.
  6. During your appointment, hand in your file with the supporting documents. Your biometric data (photo and fingerprints) will be collected if this is your first visa application. Children under age 12 are not submitted to fingerprint collection.
  7. Pay the visa application fees and possible service fees if your application is handled by a service provider.
  8. Hold on to the invoice or visa application receipt with your reference number as it will allow you to track the progress of your file and recover your passport once a decision has been made by the consular authorities.
  9. Once the proper authorities have ruled, your passport will be sent back to the service provider where you have left it with your application. You will be informed via email, text message or phone call (depending on what you’ve chosen) and asked to come retrieve it.

When should you apply for your visa for France?

For a short-stay visa for France (type Schengen), it is recommended to apply 6 weeks prior to your trip. At the earliest, you can apply 6 months before your departure date and no later than 15 calendar days prior to your set date.

What documents must be submitted with your visa for France application?

Supporting documents vary depending on the applicant, the reason for the trip and the type of visa requested. Consequently the list below is not comprehensive but presents the main documents required for a short-stay visa application:

  • Your passport: issued within the last 10 years, with a validity of more than 3 months after the planned date of exit from the Schengen area. It must contain 2 blank pages.
  • Your completed and signed visa application form: you can handwrite it or complete it online before printing it.
  • The printed receipt of your application request.
  • Two ID photos
  • A cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip
  • Proof of your pre-booked round-trip ticket.
  • Proof of your accommodation in France (accommodation certificate or hotel reservation)
  • Proof of your financial means: documents (bank statements, salary slips…) showing that you can provide for your needs during the entire duration of your stay.
  • A travel insurance certificate: it is compulsory and it must meet several requirements to be accepted


How much does a visa for France cost?

Rates include visa fees for French consular authorities and sometimes service fees if a certified service provider handles your application file.

IMPORTANT! Visa fees and service fees are not refundable even if your visa request is denied or if you withdraw it.

How much does a short-stay visa for France cost?

1. For short-stay visas (Schengen visa and Type A Airport Transit Visa)

  • Adults and children over age 12: €80
  • Children between ages 6 to 12: €40
  • Children under age 6: free
  • Spouses of French nationals and family members of EU, EEA- Switzerland citizens : free

Special cases: for holders of non biometric passports from Albania, Bosnia, Georgia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Ukraine and for citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan: €35

2. For short-stay visas for Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy:

  • Adults and children over age 12: €60
  • Children between ages 6 to 12: €35
  • Children under age 6: free
  • Spouses of French nationals and family members of EU, EEA- Switzerland citizens : free

3. For short-stay visas for New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, Mayotte and French Southern and Antarctic Lands: €9

  • Spouses of French nationals and family members of EU, EEA- Switzerland citizens : free

How much does a long-stay visa for France cost (national or type D visa)?

  • Adults and children: €99
  • Students who have followed the EEF (studying in France) procedure: €50
  • Spouses of French nationals: free

What travel insurance must I choose to obtain a visa for France?

In compliance with the Schengen visa Code, applicants for a visa for France as well as all the citizens of countries which require a Schengen visa must enclose with their application a travel insurance certificate.

This visa health insurance must meet several requirements to be valid:

  • Guarantee minimum coverage of €30,000
  • Cover possible expenses linked to emergency medical care, emergency hospitalization or sanitary repatriation or death.
  • Be valid in all Schengen member states (and not just France!)
  • It must be valid during the entire duration of the stay in the Schengen area
  • It must be issued by an insurance company certified by consulates and embassies of Schengen countries

Important! Without this insurance certificate, your visa application will be denied.

Save time and subscribe online to AXA travel insurance for France

It meets all the requirements to obtain your visa and its 3 different plans offer comprehensive protection and excellent value for money.


Other Schengen countries you might be interested in

Austria visaBelgium visaCzech Republic visaDenmark visa
Estonia visaFinland visaFrance visaGermany visa
Greece visaHungary visaIceland visaItaly Visa
Latvia visaLiechtenstein visaLithuania visaLuxembourg visa
Malta visaNetherlands visaNorway visaPoland visa
Portugal visaSlovakia visaSlovenia visaSpain Visa
Sweden visaSwitzerland visaCroatia visa 

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about obtaining a Schengen Visa to travel to France

Can I use my Schengen valid visa to enter and stay in a French overseas department or territory?

A French visa does not authorize you to enter and stay in any of the French overseas departments or territories unless you possess a visa that specifically allows you to.

Can I change my visa type or my residence status once in France?

After you enter France you cannot make any changes to your visa type or residence status - so you need to make sure you apply for the correct type visa.

As a French short-stay visa holder- can I extend my visa while in France?

You can extend your visa but only in exceptional circumstances.