3 key things you need to know about visas for France

Applying for a France visa

Since the UK left the EU, British visitors need a visa for longer stays in France - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you want to move to France post-Brexit, or even spend more than three months there, how have things changed? Which visas will you need, and how do you get one. Karen Tait explains 

Since the UK left the EU, British rights to stay in Europe have changed. While we can come and go as tourists spending the odd weekend and two-week summer or ski holiday in France, anyone who wants to stay longer than three months in every six in Europe (known as the 90/180 day rule) will need to apply for a visa, of which there are various kinds. So, which one do you need, and how and where do get one?  

       1. WHICH VISA DO I NEED? 

  • If you want to spend more than three months at a time in France, for example, at your holiday home: You’ll need a VLS-T (Visiteur) – visa de long séjour temporaire ‘visiteur’ (VLS-T Visiteur), a temporary visa which allows you to stay in France for three to six months.  

  • If you want to retire to France: You’ll need a VLS-TS (Visiteur) – it may sound the same as the previous visa but there’s an extra ‘S’ and it stands for visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour ‘visiteur’ (VLS-TS Visiteur). With this visa you can stay in France for six to 12 months, but you’re not entitled to work there. 

  • If you want to live and work in France: Again you’ll need a VLS-TS (Visiteur), but either the VLS-TS Entrepreneur/Profession Libérale (if you’re intending to run your own business) or the VLS-TS Salarié (if you’ll be in salaried employment; note that you need to show you will have employment before applying for the visa, it’s not intended for jobseekers).  

  • Are there any other forms of the VLS-TS long-stay visa? Yes, including those for students, research scientists, intra-company transferees and their families, seasonal workers and more. The so-called ‘talent passport’ covers various categories such as skilled workers, researchers, experts in their field, investors and performing artists. Residents of other non-EU countries, such as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, can also apply for any of the long-stay visas. 

  • What if you’re married to a French national? You still have to apply for a visa. However, it would be the simplified VLS-TS vie privée/vie familiale visa.  

  • What if you’re a dual national? If you hold dual UK (or other country) and EU nationality, you do not need a visa. 

  • What happens if you want to stay for more than a year? The long-stay visa lasts for a maximum period of one year. Once in France you can apply at the local prefecture for a residence permit (carte de séjour) to stay permanently in France. 

        2. WHAT DO I NEED TO PROVIDE? 

  • Minimum income: You must prove you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself while in France – the amount is equivalent to the French minimum wage (salaire minimum de croissance or SMIC), which is currently €1,257 per month. This isn’t necessarily per person, however, as the French Consulate informed us that this figure would be sufficient for a couple with three children. Money from pensions, rental income and savings are taken into account. A monthly income slightly less than the minimum wage may be accepted if you own your property outright and aren’t paying a mortgage or rent. 

  • Health insurance: You need to show that you have sufficient travel health insurance cover for the duration of your intended stay in France. The EHIC/GHIC card is also acceptable (but note this only covers 70-80% of healthcare costs so you may also wish to take out top-up insurance). 

  • You will also need to provide various other documents as listed below. 

    Schengen visa in the passport issued by the French Embassy

    To apply for a visa you need to complete the online form and then visit your local French Consular Office - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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       3. HOW DO I APPLY FOR A VISA? 

  • If you’re not sure whether you need a visa or not, you can fill out the online ‘visa wizard’. If you have already spent time in Europe within the past six months, you can use the online ‘visa calculator’ to work out how many days you have left. 

  • Fill out the online visa application form within three months of your intended arrival in France. Although you start with this form, it then directs you to the TLSContact site to continue the application. Both forms are in English, and you can save your application at any point and return to it later. There is a £26 fee payable to TLSContact. 

  • Book your appointment at your closest French Consular Office (either London, Manchester or Edinburgh). You will need to take a printout of your application form with receipt, passport (under 10 years old and valid for at least three months after the intended visa expiry date) and two passport photos. You will need to provide proof of your health cover (for the duration of the visa), funds (e.g. last three months of bank statements showing you have enough money for the length of the trip) and address where you will be staying (e.g. rental agreement, hotel booking, property deed for holiday home, or attestation from your host in France). You will also need to prove your socio-economic situation (e.g. working, retired etc), and must declare the purpose of your travel, for example, staying at your holiday home, and for non-working visas you must promise not to carry out any professional activity in France. As documents may not be returned, it’s advisable to take copies. You may need to provide a marriage certificate too, for example, in the case of joint bank accounts.  

  • The application fee of €99 is paid at the appointment. 

  • Your application (online and Consular appointment) can be for a single person or for a group of up to six people.  

  • You will be notified when your visa is ready for collection or courier delivery. Note that you must validate your visa in France within three months of arrival - this can be done online and a state tax of €50 is payable. 

Read more about France visas:

How to apply for a long-stay visa 

Can I stay in France for half the year?

Rules for travelling to France after Brexit