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Brexit France: Do Britons need attestation d’accueil to visit family?

These forms have long been officially required by all non-EU citizens staying with friends or family in France. However, feedback from our readers suggests that, in practice, Britons may not be asked for it.

13 May 2021

British people travelling to France to stay with a friend or family member may be asked to prove where they will be staying. However, it is thought that in most cases they will not be asked for this proof. Pic: Alicia Bruce / 2018

By Thomas Brent

Reader question: I have been told that people living in France who plan to host friends or family from the UK for holidays must get an attestation d’accueil from their mairie to certify details of the guests due to Brexit. Is this correct and, if so, how does that work?

This is a timely question with many UK nationals preparing to visit family and friends - as well as second homes - in France when foreign travel opens up in the UK on May 17.

All non-EU residents entering France for a short holiday are officially required to be able to prove where they will be staying, the French government states on its web page dedicated to Brexit (scroll down to the first FAQ and look for the clause marked [1]). 

For visiting Britons planning to stay at a friend or family member’s home, the official requirement is that the host obtains an attestation d’accueil from their local mairie - at the cost of €30 per document. The host then needs to send a copy to their visitor/s to present to border agents if asked [see UPDATE note at bottom of this page].

The attestation d’accueil is not a new document linked to Brexit and has been in use for non-EU citizens entering the EU for some time.  

The French government website here explains that all non-EU short term tourists who come to stay with family or friends, as opposed to in a hotel or other tourist accommodation, must have an attestation d’accueil.

However, The Connexion looked into this issue in its Brexit and beyond guide and found that in a survey of readers, those who were asked for this form only came from a country that requires a Schengen short-stay visa to visit France. This is not the case of the UK.

Countries that require such a Schengen short-stay visa include India, Russia, Turkey and South Africa. Countries that do not include the US, Australia, Israel and New Zealand. 

You can find here a list here of which countries’ citizens need such a visa.

Several Americans in France have told The Connexion their visitors have not in recent years been asked to show this document and usually just show their passports. This is also backed up by readers who have family and friends who have visited in recent years from Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

However, readers with relatives and friends coming from countries that require a visa, including Cambodia and the Philippines, were asked to show the document.

Attestation d'accueil and d’hébergement: what is the difference?

Are tourists staying in hotels affected?

According to the official French government sites quoted above, non-EU holiday-makers visiting for a short stay (under three months) could be asked to show proof of their hotel or other accommodation booking. 

But again, in practice, the feedback from readers shows this is applied mainly to people coming from countries that require Schengen visas for short holidays - which is not the case of the UK. 

If you are a UK national coming for a holiday to France, you could be careful and have proof of your hotel booking to hand (you will probably have this with you in any case) or ask your host to send an email in French that you can print, inviting you to stay with them at their address, with arrival and leaving dates if set.

Do second-home owners need this document?

Britons visiting their second homes in France do not need to get an attestation d’accueil but could again, in theory, be asked for other proof of their address, such as proof of contract, recent electricity bills (EDF bills), etc., with their name on it.

What if I am letting a friend stay in my holiday flat?

The above also applies in this case. To be on the safe side, you may want to send your friend an email inviting them in French to stay with you at your holiday flat address, with arrival and leaving dates if available and proof of your ownership of the flat.

How do you get an attestation d’accueil?

The application for an attestation d’accueil must be made by the host to their local mairie. 

One form must be filled in for each guest visiting. However, legal partners and children can be included on the same application form.

It costs €30 per form. A family can all be included on the same form. This means you will only need one form to host a family of four. However, if four non-related friends are staying, you will need one form for each of them. 

What documents does the host need to provide the mairie?

The original versions of:

  • Their identification (identity card, passport)
  • For non-French nationals, a titre de séjour
  • Documents proving status as the owner, tenant or occupier of the accommodation: contract, lease, local tax ‘avis’ notice, rental agreement with latest proof of payments etc.
  • Recent proof of address: utility bills, EDF bills, rental payment receipt, etc.
  • Any document justifying your financial security (last three pay slips, last tax assessment) and your commitment to financially support the guest if he/she is in default
  • Any document proving your ability to accommodate the guest in acceptable conditions (in terms of size of accommodation, safety, health and comfort). It is not known exactly what documents would prove this. 
  • If the application is for an unaccompanied minor, a statement written on plain paper and signed by the parental guardians of the child should be provided. It should specify the duration and purpose of the child's stay

Payment is made with timbres fiscales which you can buy at this link - https://timbres.impots.gouv.fr/index.jsp

Note: Some mairies will also ask for copies of these documents as well as the originals. You should ask your mairie in advance if copies are needed.

How long does the process take?

This varies so it is best to do it as early as possible. The mairie of Bordeaux states: “Issuance “will not necessarily be immediate. A thorough examination of the file or an investigation of the host accommodation may be necessary.”

You will need to collect the form in person from your local mairie. 

Does the guest need to book travel before getting the certificate?

Not necessarily. The application form does ask for the dates that you intend to host the guest, but no evidence of the guest’s travel is required. 

Can the application be refused?

Yes. If the correct documentation is not supplied or the mairie finds a problem with the accommodation where you are planning to host the guest. You can find more information on that here

An example of an attestation d'accueil

What other documents could Britons be asked to show when entering France?

Britons without a visa or residency in France or another EU country can only stay for 90 days out of 180 in the EU

In theory, Britons arriving in France for a holiday of less than three months could be asked to present some or all of these documents to border agents - however it is unlikely according to past reader experiences of receiving foreign visitors.

  • Proof of accommodation covering the whole duration of the stay (hotel reservation and/or certificate of staying with a relative validated in the town hall);
  • Sufficient financial means. The means of subsistence shall be assessed according to the duration and purpose of the stay and by reference to the average prices for accommodation and food in the Member States;
  • A return ticket or the financial means to acquire one at the envisaged return date;
  • Any document providing details on the profession or the capacity of the traveller as well as on the establishments or organisations located in France which are expecting you, if you are on a professional trip.
  • You must have an insurance certificate covering all medical and hospital expenses for which you may be liable for the duration of your stay in France, as well as medical repatriation costs and expenses in the event of death.

This is in addition to a valid passport issued less than 10 years before and valid for at least three months after the envisaged departure date:

See more information on the French government’s visa page here.

What is meant by proof of sufficient financial means to cover your trip?

This is a minimum of €65 per each day of your trip if you have a hotel booked for every day.

If you have only booked a hotel to partially cover your trip, you will need to have a minimum of €65 for each day you have a hotel booked and €120 for each other day.

If staying at a friend or family member’s home, you will need to have a minimum of €32.50 for each day of your trip

UPDATE 19 May: We have noted that the current version of the first question and answer at this official French government page on Brexit now directs visiting Britons to Annex 1 of the Schengen Borders Code for a list of supporting documents needed to show fulfilment of entry conditions. The borders code states that an invitation from the host is acceptable as proof of staying with a member of the public. This is a general EU document of border rules for the Schengen area which may be modified by individual state's national rules.

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