France attracts almost 90 million tourists a year making it the most visited country in the world. With Paris as its capital, home to the emblematic Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral, plus breathtakingly beautiful countryside, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re one of the many travellers who has put the European nation at the top of your bucket list, you’re probably asking yourself the question “Do I need a visa to go to France?”.
Of course, the answer to this query depends on your nationality and your reason for travel, with different permits required for passport holders from different parts of the world.
Keep reading to find out whether you qualify for visa-free access to France with an ETIAS travel authorization or whether you’ll need to apply for a Schengen visa before departure.
Countries That Need an ETIAS Visa Waiver for France
The great news is that you can enjoy up to 90 days in France for tourism or business visa-free. Until now, as a traveler from one of these exempt nations, you’ve been able to cross the external EU border using just a valid passport. Fast and hassle-free.
Requirements are soon to change slightly in 2022. Although you’ll continue to enjoy visa-free privileges, you’ll also need to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization for France before you travel.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is being introduced to increase security and safety across Europe. By pre-screening all non-EU nationals, potentially dangerous individuals can be prevented from crossing the border legally, so you can travel to places like France with greater peace of mind than ever before.
How to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver for France
There’s no need to worry about long application and processing times, ETIAS will be quick to apply for online without even needing to leave home.
Once the essential visa waiver becomes available, you’ll be able to obtain the permit by completing an online form with a few basic personal details such as your nationality and date of birth, as well as passport details.
The next step is to pay the ETIAS visa waiver fees and submit the request. At this point, your application will be cross-checked against international security databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), amongst others. Provided there are no hits, your request will be approved almost immediately and the ETIAS visa waiver will be linked electronically to the chip in your biometric passport. In the unlikely event that something is flagged up, your application will be processed manually to verify your eligibility to enter Europe.
How long can I stay in France with ETIAS?
Once your application has been approved, you’re able to travel to France visa-free for up to 90 days in a 180 day period. With up to 3 months to explore, you can discover much of what France has to offer including the major cities as well as the stunning wine growing regions in Southern France or the cultural highlights in the north.
Another advantage is that ETIAS is valid for the entire Schengen Area, which means you can make the most of your trip to France and visit nearby countries such as Spain, Germany, and Italy.
You also won’t need to reapply for 3 years or until your passport expires.
Who Needs a Schengen Visa for France?
If you’re from a country that isn’t eligible for visa-free access to European countries, you’ll most likely need a Schengen visa for France. The application takes longer and is slightly more complex than registering for ETIAS, so make sure you begin the process well in advance of departure.
There are additional requirements that you’ll need to meet in order to be granted a Schengen visa. As well as providing passport and personal data, you’ll have to present some extra paperwork, including evidence of travel insurance valid for the entire Schengen zone and proof of financial means. You’ll also be asked about your travel itineraries such as dates and accommodation arrangements.
Like ETIAS, a Schengen visa is valid for the entire travel zone but you should apply to an embassy or consulate of France if that’s the country you intend to visit first.
Nations with Visa-Free Access to France
Of course, if you’re from another Schengen country, you don’t need a visa or an ETIAS visa waiver to go to France. Schengen Area countries are almost all European Union Member States with the addition of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.
If you’re from one of these territories, you can cross the internal border into France without being stopped at a checkpoint, just be sure to have your ID document with you.
Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips with the audience.