A number of people trying to enter France from the UK are being turned back at the border, due to their passport failing to pass the EU’s rules for entry to the bloc’s borderless Schengen area.
Rules regarding a passport’s age, and how close it is to expiring, mean visitors can be denied entry to the EU, even if their passport is currently valid for international travel.
Although this is largely affecting tourists, some Connexion readers were worried this would also affect those arriving in the country with visas and residency permits.
The rules can apply to those without residency permits even if they are on a long-stay visa, but it should be noted that the French do not as a general rule issue visas in the first place to people whose passports would fall foul of the rules.
Below, we go over the rules for EU entry depending on your residency status.
What are the EU passport rules?
To enter the Schengen Area (which consists of most EU countries including France) as a non-EU citizen you will need to hold a valid passport. But it must fulfil two additional criteria:
It must be less than ten years old on the date of entry
It must have at least three months of validity after the date on which you will return to your home country
These are the rules for people entering the EU from visa-waiver countries (Australia, UK, US, Japan, etc), meaning nationalities that do not require a ‘short-term’ Schengen visa even for brief visits.
In the case of the second rule, if you have no defined return date at the time of entering the EU – for example, you have not booked a return flight home – then the passport must be valid for three months after your last possible day to stay in the Schengen area without a visa.
This is 90 days after you first enter, provided that you have not been in a Schengen area country within the last 180 days.
In effect, people in this situation will need about six months of validity left on their passports.
If you have no visa, and only visit France/the EU for 90 days out of any 180-day period (the Schengen Area rules), these passport requirements apply to you.
Do these rules change if I have a visa?
If you are obtaining a temporary long-stay visa granting the right to stay in France, typically for less than one year (to visit your second home, for example), then the rules do not change.
Note that this is different from the ‘short-stay’ EU visas, valid for up to three months for stays in the EU issued to people from countries that are on the visa-waiver list.
A long-stay visa is issued for between three months and one year and is, for example, given to those staying in the country for an extended amount of time for personal reasons (such as spending time at a second home), students, or those working in the country.
Those who want to live in the country longer than one year receive a visa which can be extended by applying for a residency card (titre de séjour), either within the first few months or the first year, depending on the type.
Most readers who have a second home will be applying for a temporary long-stay visa that allows people to stay in the country between three and 12 months without applying for a residency permit (they are often issued for a defined six-month period). These cannot be extended to stay on longer in France.
To obtain a long-stay visa to visit France, you will need to use your passport to apply for the document.
When doing so, the French visa website’s visa wizard tool specifically states that your passport must be “issued less than 10 years ago… [and] in the case of a long stay visa, valid for at least three months beyond the date of expiry of the visa applied for.”
France’s Interior Ministry also clarified that the visa software will simply not accept a passport issued more than 10 years ago to be entered into the system.
You will not in general be issued a visa, therefore, unless your passport already passes at least the same requirements as above.
These rules are also the same for those who are applying for short-stay visas (up to three months) to France from countries that do not have a visa-waiver agreement with the EU.
The main idea behind the three months rule is to ensure that there is plenty of time left on the passport for you to return home after your intended stay.
An exception to the rule on ‘three months’, however, is in the case of a long-stay visa issued for a year and renewable by applying for a carte de séjour, in the context of moving to France to make this your main home.
The French Interior Ministry website states that long-stay visas issued for a year or more are comparable to having a residency card (see below) for purposes of entering the Schengen area.
What about if you have a residence permit?
The rules change if you have a residency permit, such as Brexit Withdrawal Agreement card, or other titre de séjour, that gives the holder the right to live in France for one year or more. Essentially, this is because you are going to your home and have no set leaving date.
In this case, you can enter and exit the Schengen Area as you please provided that your passport is valid (en cours de validité).
The only thing you will have to make sure of is that your passport is valid on the dates you exit and enter France.
Be aware, however, that passport renewal can take several months, so it is still recommended that you renew your passport before its expiry date if you are living abroad, in case you have to leave the country in an emergency.