How long to get a visa for France, what is cost for a courier service?

Taking advantage of all services offered can help facilitate the visa process

A number of Britons with second homes in France have reported difficulties obtaining a visa
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Reader Question: I want a visa to visit France from the UK for more than 90 days, will I need to wait long? And if I want it delivered to my house, what is the cost?

The first thing to note is that here we are talking about an application for a temporary long-stay visa to spend up to six months in France. To live in France you need to apply for a different visa to move there full-time.

In many countries – including the UK and the US – the handling of visas is outsourced to companies.

As your question is UK specific we are answering specifically for this, the process may differ for other nations.

Before you apply, you should use the official French visa wizard to see if your situation warrants a visa. If you want to continue, the initial online application is on the same France-Visas site.

How long does getting a visa take?

As mentioned, to apply for a visa to France from the UK, you will need to apply via France-Visas, after which you need to book an appointment to take supporting papers to the TLSContact service which has three UK centres.

You can submit an application a maximum of three months before the date you want your visa to start.

Having said this, one visa expert we spoke to, Ilya Zlokazov, a France-based visa consultant, suggested a workaround to allow checking for appointments with TLS at the earliest opportunity.

It is not possible to give an exact length of time it takes to book an appointment as this is variable but starting the process as early as possible is one of our readers’ top tips for the application process.

You will need to attend an appointment at one of the three TLSContact centres in the UK – London, Manchester, or Edinburgh. TLSContact usually offers the possibility for someone to visit you to conduct the appointment although this costs significantly more.

Finding a suitable slot for this appointment time can be difficult, either because of your availability being limited or the general rush for visa appointments, for example if you are applying close to the high-season period.

Appointment slots usually fill up quickly in spring – with people looking to spend the summer in France – there should be more availability in the autumn.

After the appointment your dossier is passed to French consulate officials. It usually takes on average around 15 working days for your visa to be processed, plus any additional time required to either collect your passport from TLSContact or have it sent to you.

Read more: Visas to stay in France for six months: Q&As on appointment process

Receiving your visa via a courier service

TLSContact can arrange to have your passport returned back to a location of your choosing, using a courier service.

If you do not choose this service, you will need to collect your passport at the centre where you left it.

You can add this service (and others) to your application before booking your visa appointment.

Other additional services that have in the past been offered by TLSContact include at-home appointments, assistance with completing the application, and out-of-hours appointments at quieter times.

Readers have told us that the courier service now costs around £30 in the UK, in addition to the other visa application fees.

However, there are ongoing technical problems with TLSContact’s website for UK-based services for those coming to France, and we were unable to log on to check the latest precise fees and services this week.

Read more: Is the French visa process set up to put people off?

Difficulties getting a visa

The Connexion has written a number of articles this year highlighting the difficulties Britons have experienced obtaining a visa for an extended visit to France.

Many of these issues centred around problems with using the TLSContact website, obtaining appointments and contacting the company. Some people also experienced long waits at the centres, however others noted that staff had been helpful once they were there.

Mr Zlokazov stated that he believed the underlying issue with difficulties booking was possibly related to the number of consulate staff available to process visas, and quotas for appointments given to TLSContact by the consulate.

Related articles:

Bugs continue with French visa appointments system in UK

‘Preparing to put house up for sale’: Readers criticise French visa woes