Getting a visa
General information for foreign nationals with ordinary passeports
All foreign nationals entering and staying on French territory must be in possession of a valid entry and stay visa, unless you are exempt from this requirement. The information below applies to foreign nationals who hold an ordinary passport.
How do I apply for a visa for an ordinary passport ?
The procedure depends on the length of your intended stay :
if your stay is equal to or shorter than 90 days in the Schengen Area : you must apply for a short-stay visa
if your stay in France is longer than 90 days in France : you must apply for a long-stay visa
Applying for a short-stay visa for an ordinary passport
1. Where do I apply?
The short-stay visa is a visa valid for all countries in the Schengen Area unless marked otherwise on the visa sticker. It is often called a “Schengen visa”.
France’s consular authorities, except for a few offices (see decree of 29/12/08), and those of all the other states applying the Schengen Agreement issue Schengen visas valid for France.
However, you cannot submit your visa application to the consular authority of any Schengen state - you must submit it to the consular authority of your main destination (the state where you intend to stay longest):
if France is your main destination : you must apply to the French consular authority ;
if another Schengen state is your main destination : you must apply to the consular authority of that country.
If your stay in various Schengen states is of equal length, you must apply to the consular authority of the country through which you enter the Schengen Area.
2. How do I enter the visa department?
An increasing number of visa departments receive applicants by appointment only. Please consult the website of the consular office where you intend to submit your application to see the procedures they use.
3. How do I complete my visa application?
For a Schengen short-stay visa, you must submit one application for each visa applicant, comprising the following items :
3.1. Items verified before the application fee is charged
a passport valid for 3 months beyond the expiry date of the visa requested;
a short-stay visa application form completed and signed;
photographs (maximum 3) to official standards ;
The visa application forms for a child under 18 must be signed by a parent or guardian.
3.2. Supporting documents
evidence relating to the reason for your stay in the Schengen Area ;
evidence of means of support during your stay and your accommodation ;
evidence of repatriation insurance ;
evidence of your return to your country of residence (return ticket or sufficient personal resources to buy it) ;
for children under 18, specific documents ;
documentary evidence to convince the consular authority of your intention to leave the Schengen Area when your visa expires.
The websites of the diplomatic and consular offices authorised to issue visas for ordinary passports may contain more detailed information appropriate to local circumstances. If so, it is the supporting documents stated there that must be submitted to the consular authority.
The consular authority will accept your application as you submit it and will make its decision on the basis of the guarantees and documentary evidence enclosed with your application.
3.3. Additional documents
The consular authority may ask you to submit additional documents within a stated period of time in order to process your application. In that case, you do not need to submit a new application or pay a further application fee.
4. Acknowledgement of visa application
When you submit your visa application, the official at the cash desk will give you a receipt for the exact amount of the application fee you have paid. This proof of payment is an official acknowledgement (récépissé) of your application.
5. Collection of biometric data
When you submit your application the consular authority will collect your biometric data. This data consists of a photograph and the fingerprints of both hands. Exempt from fingerprinting are children under 12.
6. Application processing and consular decision
After you have submitted your application, the consular authority processes it and takes a decision.
The consular authority provides an answer as soon as possible, depending on the checks it may have to carry out. There is no point in contacting the consular authority again during this processing period.
If you have received no response within 2 months, you may consider that your visa application has been refused (implicit refusal).
7. If the visa is issued
Possession of a short-stay visa is a necessary but not sufficient condition for entering the Schengen Area. When you cross the border of the Schengen Area, the border police may require you to show the supporting documents you submitted to obtain your visa.
8. If the visa is refused
Your passport will be returned to you with no visa sticker. Your application fee will not be refunded.
If your application is refused, you may submit a new visa application without waiting. You will need to complete and sign a new form, enclose identity photographs, pay the application fee and support your application with the required evidence and any new items you may have.
If you have been refused a visa, you may lodge an appeal with the Commission de Recours contre les Refus de Visa (CRRV) within two months of being notified of the refusal or of an implicit refusal:
44036 NANTES CEDEX 1
Applying for an entry and long-stay visa
To apply for an entry and long-stay visa, you must :
hold a travel document (passport) that is valid for the full duration of validity of the visa ;
complete and sign a long-stay visa application form ;
enclose with the form identity photographs to official standards. The number of photographs required depends on the consular office where you apply, your nationality and the reason for your stay in France : please consult the diplomatic or consular office ;
pay an application fee ;
submit supporting documents relating to the reason for your stay in France and your personal situation : please consult the diplomatic or consular office.
Additional documents may be required by the relevant authority in order to process your visa application, such as one submitted for a child under 18.
- Application forms
- Visas application forms
- Visa Photograph Requirements
- Sticker visa
- FAQ Visas
- OFII application form (in French)