Residents of non-EU countries must adhere to the following limits:
- Alcohol 16L of beer, 4L of wine and 1L of spirits
- Perfume up to a value of €430 (arriving by air or sea); up to €300 (arriving by land)
- Tobacco 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of loose tobacco
For visitors from EU countries, limits only apply for excessive amounts; see www.douane.gouv.fr.
Generally no restrictions for EU citizens. Usually not required for most other nationalities for stays of up to 90 days.
There are no entry requirements for nationals of EU countries and a handful of other European countries (including Switzerland). Citizens of Australia, the USA, Canada and New Zealand do not need visas to visit France for up to 90 days.
Everyone else, including citizens of South Africa, needs a Schengen Visa, named after the Schengen Agreement that has abolished passport controls among 26 EU countries and that has also been ratified by the non-EU governments of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. A visa for any of these countries should be valid throughout the Schengen area, but it pays to double-check with the embassy or consulate of each country you intend to visit. Note that the UK and Ireland are not Schengen countries.
Check www.diplomatie.gouv.fr for the latest visa regulations and the closest French embassy to your current residence.
Titre de Séjour
If you are issued a long-stay visa valid for six months or longer, you may need to apply for a titre de séjour (residence permit; also called a carte de séjour) after your arrival in France. If you are only staying for up to 12 months you may not need it, but you will need to register with the French Office of Immigration and Integration (www.ofii.fr). Check the website of the Préfecture de Police (www.prefecturedepolice.interieur.gouv.fr) or call 01 53 71 53 71 first for instructions.
EU passport holders seeking to take up residence in France don't need to acquire a titre de séjour; a passport or national ID card is sufficient. Check the Préfecture de Police website to see which countries are included.
Foreigners with non-European passports should check the website of the Préfecture de Police or call 01 53 71 53 71.
Tourist visas cannot be extended except in emergencies (such as medical problems). If you have an urgent problem, contact the Service Étranger (Foreigner Service) at the Préfecture de Police for guidance. If you entered France on the 90-day visa-waiver program (eg you are Australian, Canadian or American) and you have stayed for 90 days, you must leave the Schengen area for an additional 90 days before you can re-enter.
Work & Student Visas
If you would like to work, study or stay in France for longer than three months, apply to the French embassy or consulate nearest to you for the appropriate long séjour (long-stay) visa. Au pairs are granted student visas: they must be arranged before you leave home (unless you’re an EU resident); the same goes for the year-long working-holiday visa (permis vacances travail).
Unless you hold an EU passport or are married to a French national, it’s extremely difficult to get a visa that will allow you to work in France. For any sort of long-stay visa, begin the paperwork in your home country several months before you plan to leave. Applications usually cannot be made in a third country, nor can tourist visas be turned into student visas after you arrive in France. People with student visas can apply for permission to work part time; enquire at your place of study.