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France visits: In what situations can I break EU’s 90/180-day rule?

There are limited circumstances in which stays can be extended

A woman stamping a document

Overstaying the 90/180 day rule in France without permission is liable to incur a fine Pic: AnnaStills | Shutterstock

Article published July 28, 2023, edited December 1, 2023

Reader question: Can we get a three-week extension to the 90/180-day rule if we have already paid for a hotel? We are being given conflicting information

For non-EU citizens without a residency permit or long-stay visa to France, trips are limited to a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period.

This could be split in several ways, for example spending 90 days in one go and not returning for at least another 90 days, or by having multiple shorter trips.

The best way to think about the rule is by ‘looking back’ – it does not relate to any fixed 180-day period but rather a rolling 180-day-period looking back from today.

A more in-depth explanation of the rule is given in our article here, and you can use the EU’s online simulation to check your situation.

Exceptions to the rule

Despite these rules, in limited circumstances, you can extend your stay (on French territory) over 90 days.

To do this, you will need to have a valid reason and apply in advance before the end of the visa’s validity period.

However, touristic reasons are not covered by temporary extensions and the extensions are aimed at unexpected circumstances, so, no, you cannot just extend your stay because of a hotel booking.

The reason usually has to be classed as being ‘serious and unforeseeable’ to be considered; examples include:

  • ‘Force majeure’, a situation outside of your control such as a natural disaster, weather events or political unrest. Cancellations of return travel plans due to these events can also be seen as force majeure
  • A medical reason, such as a serious illness or sickness that prevents you from temporarily travelling back to your home country, for example because you need urgent ongoing care in France
  • A family event, such as sudden illness, or death, of an immediate family member.
  • A professional work reason such as a training course being prolonged or a delay in the execution of a contract

Supporting evidence will have to be provided proving this status when applying for the extension.
Note that another possibilty is if you are in France with an EU citizen spouse, in which case it is possible to extend your stay by applying for a special residency card. 

Read also: What details will have to be given for EU’s Etias visa waiver scheme?

How do I apply for an extension?

You should apply to extend your stay at the prefecture where you are staying. Check its website to see how you can contact it and make an appointment (this can be more difficult in some areas than in others).

Dordogne’s prefecture has previously told The Connexion that people applying for this authorisation would be charged a €39 fee in timbres fiscaux for this (obtainable from a tabac or in a digital version at this site).

Documents you may be asked to show include:

  • Passport and a copy of this
  • Written request explaining why you want to stay longer than 90 days
  • Proof of health insurance such as an Ehic or Ghic card
  • One or two standard passport photos
  • Supporting documents concerning the reason for your request: doctor’s certificate, proof of business rescheduling, medical or death certificate of a close family member etc
  • Proof of address and of means of subsistence covering the possible extension of your stay, or if you are staying with someone a declaration from the host as to their relationship with you and willingness to take financial responsibility for you if required

Read also: Can Americans stay in France for 90 extra days due to 1949 agreement?

What happens if I overstay the 90 days with permission?

Slight overstaying is likely to be treated leniently, however it is possible for border police to issue an €198 fine.

How seriously it is viewed may depend on how long you overstayed for and whether it appeared deliberate or not.

In theory if you remain in the country without permission you can be subject to a deportation order. It is even possible in theory under EU rules to be banned from re-entering the Schengen area.

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