Since the UK left the EU, British travellers have still been able to travel to France but there have been some key changes, including how long you can stay in France once you’re there.
Length of time on passport
Your passport must be valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave France (or other EU country). However, it is recommended that you have six months left on your passport before you travel (to take into account the fact that you may choose to stay visa-free for three months within the EU). Your passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years.
Older burgundy passports with the EU stamp on the cover are still valid for travel but these are gradually being replaced by the navy blue UK passports.
Your passport must be stamped
Your passport will now be stamped on entry to and exit from France or any other European country. This is proof of how long you have spent in the EU – if not correctly stamped, it could cause problems when you wish to return to the EU/France, due to the 90/180 rule (see below).
British travellers can no longer join the EU queue at passport control. You may also be asked more questions than previously when the UK was part of the EU; such as reason for your visit, intended duration of visit etc.
The 90/180 days rule
British nationals do not need a visa to visit France, provided they abide by the 90/180 days rule. This means Brits are now only allowed to spend 90 days within 180 days in the Schengen Zone, which comprises 26 countries in Europe including France. So you can only spend three months within any six-month period in Europe. If you want to spend up to three months in France on holiday, visiting relatives, on business, studying, at your holiday home or for any other reason, you can do so without having to apply for a visa.
If you don’t have sufficient days remaining, you could be turned away from the border. Those who stay longer than the permitted time could be fined, deported or face difficulty acquiring a visa in the future.
If you’re having trouble calculating the amount of days you have left for travel to Europe, there are various short-stay ‘calculators’ online including here.
You may be asked to provide any of the following at the French border.
Proof of accommodation during your stay, for example, a hotel/gite/B&B/Airbnb booking; or proof of ownership for second-home owners such as a utility bill; or attestation d’accueil if you’re staying with friends or family.
A return ticket or the ability to buy one
Sufficient financial means to cover basic costs during your stay in France (ranging from €33 to €120 per day, depending on circumstances).
Insurance covering health costs and repatriation if required. Note that although the EU/UK reciprocal EHIC/GHIC card covers healthcare while visiting France for less than three months, it doesn’t cover non-urgent or ongoing medical treatment or repatriation.
For longer stays, you’ll need a visa
To stay longer than 90 days within 180 days you will need to apply for a long-stay visa. There are various different visas, including those suitable for longer holidays, those that can be used to start the permanent residency process, working permits and so on.
The temporary long stay visitor visa ‘VLS-T Visiteur’ is the one you want if you plan on spending three to six months a year in France. With this visa you are not considered resident in France and cannot apply for a ‘carte de séjour’ or ‘titre de séjour‘.
To spend more than six months a year in France, you will need a ‘VLS-TS Visiteur’ (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour), and will then be considered as tax domiciled within France, so should take this into account before applying.
The old EU pet passports are no longer valid for travel to the EU, and have been replaced with the Animal Health Certificate (AHC), which an official vet must issue no more than 10 days before you leave the UK, and which remains valid for four months. Pets must be microchipped and have up-to-date vaccinations, including for rabies.
Driving in France
British drivers don’t need a ‘green card’ from their insurance company in order to drive in France, and can continue to use UK driving licences. If you have a photo licence you won’t require or an international driving permit (IDP).
If driving your own car, you will need to take your motor insurance, vehicle logbook (V5C) and a UK sticker if your number plate has the Euro symbol (you don’t need a sticker if your number plate includes the GB identifier).
There are strict rules on what you can bring into the EU from the UK; banned items include most animal products (meat, fish, dairy etc – and including a ham or cheese sandwich!), some fruit and vegetables, and plants.
Note that there is a limit on the total value of goods you can bring in to France, which could particularly affect homeowners bringing over furniture etc – loads of more than €430 in value may be liable to import duties.