France Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our France Traveler Information guide.
At AARDY we can’t recommend travel insurance enough. Whether you are just traveling a few hundred miles from home to see family, or traveling to the other side of the world, travel insurance should be considered an essential part of your holiday packing. The hope is that you won’t have to use your travel insurance, and that you’ll have a fun and enjoyable trip. The following France Traveler Information should help you make the most of your trip to France.
Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: Must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area. The 12-page U.S. emergency passport is not valid for visa-free entry into France.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: Must have at least one blank page for stamps.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Not required for stays under 90 days.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: 10,000 Euros Max.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: 10,000 Euros Max.
Embassies and Consulates
2 Avenue Gabriel
Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22, enter zero “0” after the automated greeting
Fax: +(33)(1) 42-66-97-83; +(33)(1) 42-61-61-40 (Special Consular Services)
Only the consular sections in Paris and Marseille are authorized to issue passports. The other offices provide limited services to U.S. citizens.
U.S. Consulate General Marseille
Place Varian Fry
13286 Marseille Cedex 6
Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-47-54
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
Fax: +(33)(4) 91-55-56-95
U.S. Consulate General Strasbourg
15, Avenue d'Alsace
67082 Strasbourg Cedex
Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-48-80
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
Fax: (33)(3) 88-24-06-95
When calling from within France, drop the country code and add a zero. For example: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22 becomes 01-43-12-22-22.
Please note that the emergency after-hours telephone number for all U.S. posts in France is: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22. Ask to speak to the duty officer if you need emergency assistance after business hours.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area. If your passport does not meet Schengen requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes. We recommend that your passport have at least six months’ validity remaining.
- The Government of France does not recognize the 12-page U.S. emergency passport, issued by U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, as a valid travel document for visa-free entry into France. If traveling on this emergency passport, you may be refused boarding and/or entry by immigration officials. Only direct transit through France for a destination in the United States is permitted with an emergency passport. You should check entry requirements of any other country of destination to make sure the emergency passport is accepted for entry.
- You may enter France for up to 90 days for tourist and business purposes without a visa.
- Immigration officers may also request you show sufficient funds for your intended stay and a return airline ticket.
- If you are traveling to France or Monaco for reasons other than business or tourism, such as employment (including diplomatic or official travel), study, or internship, you must obtain the appropriate French or Monegasque (Monaco) visa for that purpose before you leave the United States. You should be aware that it is nearly impossible to obtain or change visa status while in France.
- No vaccinations are required for travel to France.
- All minors (under age 18) traveling without a parent or legal guardian and who are resident in France must have the written consent of at least one parent or legal guardian to leave France. The minor must travel with his or her own I.D., a copy of the parent/guardian’s I.D., and form number 15646*01, executed by the parent/guardian and available here.
- If you are transiting through France to South Africa, there are special requirements for minors. See Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements for South Africa for additional information.
Contact the French Embassy in Washington at 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007, tel. (202) 944 6000, or one of the the French Consulates General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, or San Francisco for the most current visa information.
Special Note: Overseas departments and territories of France (i.e. those not located in Europe) are not included in the Schengen Agreement. Please see Country Specific Information on French Guiana, French Polynesia, and the French West Indies for entry and exit requirements. For other departments and territories, visit the Embassy of France website for the most current visa and entry requirement information for those areas.
Monaco: For further information on entry requirements to Monaco, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Principality of Monaco, 888 17th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington D.C. 20006, Tel: (202) 234-1530, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Consulate General of Monaco, 565 Fifth Avenue – 23rd floor, New York, NY 10017, Tel: (212) 286-0500, Email: email@example.com.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of France.
Safety and Security
Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.
French authorities have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions for terrorist attacks in Europe.
- France recently enacted a new counterterrorism law as a result of the terrorist attacks of 2015.
- The new law allows the government to prevent the circulation of individuals and to create zones of protection and security.
- The French government has reestablished border controls and movement may be restricted in some areas.
- The Government of France routinely conducts security and crisis management drills involving deployment of security forces, emergency services, and police to high profile areas that may be near popular tourist sites. U.S. citizens should be aware of the possibility of drills and should heed instructions of local authorities should they encounter them.
- French police and military routinely patrol public spaces. You should expect security inspections at the entrance to large public venues and businesses.
When traveling or living in France, you should:
- Be aware of your local security situation and take appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.
- You should monitor media and local information sources, Paris Travel Information webpage, and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- You should address specific safety concerns to French law enforcement authorities who have responsibility for the safety and security of all residents and visitors to France.
Demonstrations occur regularly. Large, public demonstrations take place for a variety of political and economic issues. Demonstrations tend to take place on politically significant holidays and during international summits hosted in the country.
- Demonstration organizers must obtain prior police approval, and police routinely oversee participants.
- Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.
- Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
- Check local media for updates on the situation and traffic advisories.
- Alerts issued regarding demonstrations are posted on the U.S. Mission’s website.
Crime: The majority of crimes directed against foreign visitors, including U.S. citizens, involve pick-pocketing, vehicle and residential break-ins, bicycle theft, and other forms of theft.
- Visitors to congested and popular tourist areas (e.g., museums, monuments, train stations, airports, and subways) should be particularly attentive to their surroundings. Rental cars are frequently targeted for break-ins when visitors exit their vehicles and leave valuables behind.
- Crimes of opportunity are more likely to involve violence on the street late at night or when the victim resists.
- Women should exercise extra caution when out alone at night and/or consider traveling out at night with trusted companions.
- While the incidence of sexual assault is statistically low, attacks do occur.
- Be aware of “date-rape” drugs, which are present in France. In the last year, the Embassy has assisted multiple victims who appear to have been targeted using these drugs.
- Be cautious in bars and clubs where alcohol is served, and do not leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from strangers, as they may have slipped drugs into the drink. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
- There are high incidences of “smash and grab” robberies in economically depressed areas or on highly traveled thoroughfares such as roads to and from the airport. Thieves on foot or motorcycle will approach a vehicle that is stopped in traffic, smash a window, reach into the vehicle to grab a purse or other valuable item, and then flee. Keep doors locked and valuables out of sight.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police by dialing 112 from a mobile phone or 17 from a landline and contact the U.S. Embassy Paris at +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- guide you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide the Paris Police Prefecture pamphlet in English, Guide to Staying Safe in Paris, which offers practical advice and useful telephone numbers for visitors
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
- provide you with names and addresses of specific victims’ assistance organizations in the U.S.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in France are severe.
- Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- In France and Monaco, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol could land you immediately in jail.
See also Public Transportation information.
Flying Drones: The use of drones and drone footage in France is highly regulated. It is against the law in France to operate drones over public spaces in urban areas, and near airports, military bases, prisons, nuclear plants, and large gatherings such as outdoor concerts and parades. The privacy of individuals captured in drone footage is paramount. Violators can be arrested and subject to fines of up to 75,000 euros and/or one year imprisonment. Review the information sheet provided by the French government concerning hobbyist drone flights.
- There are strict regulations concerning temporary importation or exportation from France of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, merchandise samples, and other items.
French Foreign Legion: U.S. citizens interested in joining the French Foreign Legion (FFL) should be aware that the cognitive and physical tests for acceptance are extremely challenging.
- Ensure you have access to sufficient funds to return home should your candidature be refused.
- Successful candidates report that the FFL provides a new identity and retains their U.S. passport during a long probation period. Lack of access to your passport can complicate routine or emergency travel.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
- Human Rights Report – see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in France.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. Getting around French cities can be challenging for those with mobility issues. Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets make access difficult, but the major tourist areas have better facilities.
- Although the Paris Metro is a very efficient method for traveling throughout central Paris, most stations are not readily accessible for people with disabilities. However, many Parisian buses and tramways are equipped with lowering platforms for travelers with limited-mobility, or sight- or hearing-disabled. Taxis are also a good mode of transportation.
The English-language Paris Visitors Bureau website contains additional information specifically designed for travelers with special mobility needs. For further information, e-mail U.S. Embassy Paris or U.S. Consulate General Marseille.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Dial 15 to connect to emergency medical services, or dial 112 to reach an operator.
Medical care is comparable to that found in the United States.
- Except for emergency services, you may be required to pay for service prior to receiving treatment in France. Be sure to obtain a “Feuille de Soins” for later reimbursement from your health care provider.
- You may be refused routine care under local law if you lack the ability to pay.
- Foreigners with terminal illnesses may be denied treatment if treatment is available in their home country.
- See a list of English-speaking doctors on the U.S. Embassy Paris website.
The U.S. government does not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of France to ensure the medication is legal in France. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Roads are generally comparable to those in the United States, but traffic engineering and driving habits pose special dangers.
- Lane markings and sign placements may not be clear. Drivers should be prepared to make last-minute maneuvers.
- Driving is typically faster and more aggressive than in the United States.
- Right-of-way rules differ from those in the United States. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, drivers entering intersections from the right have priority over those on the left, even when entering relatively large boulevards from small side streets.
- On major highways, there are service stations at least every 25 miles. Service stations are not as common on secondary roads in France as they are in the United States.
- Highway toll stations may not accept U.S. credit cards. For non-residents, the simplest way to pay is with cash euros at the toll lane marked for that purpose. Do not attempt to use a credit card if it is the only one you have in your possession in case the machine does not return your card.
Traffic Laws: While French cities actively encourage bicycle rentals through widely available city-sponsored systems, you should be cautious, especially in a busy and unfamiliar urban environment. Helmets are neither required nor readily available near rental stations. If you plan to ride a bicycle in France, you should bring your own helmet.
Pedestrian accidents occur when a pedestrian steps out into the street, often when a car or motorcycle is making a turn through a pedestrian crosswalk. Pedestrians should be cautious and aware of traffic even when they have a green walking signal since this is no guarantee against aggressive drivers. Do not assume cars will stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.
Public Transportation: Paris has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. The interconnecting system of buses, subways, and commuter rails is comparable to or better than that found in major U.S. cities. Similar transportation systems are found in all major French cities.
- If you use any of France’s excellent public transportation services, take particular care to retain your used or “validated” ticket, until you exit the bus, subway, or train station completely. Children over four years of age must have a ticket.
- Inspectors conduct intermittent, random checks and passengers who fail to present the correct validated ticket are subject to stiff and immediate fines.
- Inspectors may show no interest in explanations and no sympathy for an honest mistake. Failure to cooperate with inspectors may result in arrest.
Between cities, France has extensive rail service, which is safe and reliable. High-speed rail links connect the major cities in France. Many cities are also served by frequent air service. Traveling by train is safer than driving.
Please refer to our road safety page for more information. We suggest that you also visit the French National Tourist Office’s website for specific information on French driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance. See Embassy of France’s driving in France webpage for information on using U.S. driver’s licenses in France.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of France’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of France’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to France should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings.”)
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in France. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.”