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Warning over fines for people who overstay 90-day limit in France

British second-home owners and visitors to France are being warned not to overstay their 90-day limit, as border guards begin checking passports and issuing fines.

Warning over fines for people who overstay 90-day limit in France
Since Brexit, Brits are subject to the 90-day rule. Photo: Sam van der Wal/AFP

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, Brits who don’t have either a residency card or a visa face limits on their stays in France.

But while the 90-day rule was widely known in advance – and has always been in place for other non-EU nationals like Americans and Canadians – it was not clear how strictly it would be policed.

Now British visitors have reported being stopped and fined at the border upon exit if the entry stamp in their passport is more than 90 days old.

The Local has previously reported on the case of Kerry, who was fined after her passport was incorrectly stamped as a non-resident.

But several other Brits have reported being fined after visits to France that lasted more than 90 days, in one case for an overstay of just two days. Fines can also be accompanied with a stamp in your passport marking you as an over-stayer, which can make future travel complicated. 

Brits who live in France can prove their residency status by showing their carte de séjour, in which case the 90-day rule does not apply.

However those who are not resident and are merely visiting – either on holiday or to stay in second homes – have only two options; either stay less than 90 days or get a visa.

90 days

The 90-day rule is broken down in more detail HERE, but in essence it gives visitors from certain non-EU countries access to short visits without the need to get a visa.

The allowance is 90 days in every 180 – so in total over the course of a year you can be in France for 180 days, but these cannot be taken together. This is a problem for second home owners who like to spend the summer in France and the winter in the UK, or vice versa.

The other important thing to note is that the limit is for the entire EU and Schengen area, so trips to all EU or Schengen countries, not just France, count towards the 90-day limit.

To help you work out your allowance, you can find the Schengen calculator here.

Visa

Those who want to spend more than 90 days at a time will need to get a visa.

You can find a fuller explanation of the French visa system HERE.

Different types of visa exist, but the most common for second-home owners who do not intend to work in France is the visitor visa.

Crucially, visas must be applied for in your home country so that can enter France showing both the passport and visa, so that the 90-day ‘clock’ does not begin ticking.

Member comments

  1. It’s one thing informing the public but someone needs to urgently inform those working at the border when to stamp the passport and when not to. I mean, how difficult can that be ?

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TOURISM

‘A European exception’: How tourists are flocking back to France after Covid

France is looking forward to a strong summer for tourism as homegrown holidaymaker numbers are boosted by the return of international travellers after two years of Covid-19.

'A European exception': How tourists are flocking back to France after Covid

In February, revenue from international tourism in France “came close to those of 2019”, according to tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

At €2.7 billion, revenues for the month were up €1.5 billion compared to last year – still down eight percent compared to 2019, before the pandemic, when France’s tourism sector represented 7.4 percent of GDP and 9.5 percent of jobs.

According to Lemoyne, France is “very well positioned” as the “number one destination for travel in Europe for Americans, Belgians, Italians and Spaniards”.

The French, for their part, are “a European exception”, the minister said, pointing out that 60 percent plan to remain in their own country over the holidays.

“With a domestic base that will remain very strong and the return of international customers, this means that we are in for a summer season that can be very, very dynamic,” he said.

But Didier Arino, director of the Protourisme consultancy, warned there could be trouble ahead.

“It is not the market that is going to be problematic, it is the cost of production of tourist stays, competitiveness, the suitability between the prices of products and purchasing power,” he said.

“The players are all increasing their prices, and right now it is going well because people want to enjoy themselves. But we are reaching the limit of what is acceptable for many customers.”

Globally, international tourist arrivals worldwide have more than doubled, up 130 percent in January 2022 on the same period last year, according to the latest UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) figures. 

In Europe, tourists are heading to France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Iceland, but still not in the same numbers as before Covid.

Worldwide, there have been 18 million additional visitors, the UNWTO said, “equivalent to the total increase recorded over the whole of 2021”.

In 2019, global tourism revenues reached $1.48 trillion. That figure dropped by almost two thirds due to the pandemic the following year.

But UNWTO also highlighted how the Omicron Covid variant put the brakes on the rise, with international arrivals in January 2022 still 67 percent lower than before the pandemic.

Larry Cuculic, general manager of the Best Western hotel company, is optimistic. “I travelled earlier this week and I can tell you that the airports, the international terminals in the US are very crowded and there is a demand or an interest in travelling to Europe, because for several years we couldn’t do that,” he told AFP. “We miss going to Paris, Rome and Berlin.”

Travel by Chinese tourists, the world’s biggest spenders before the pandemic, is also severely affected by China’s zero-Covid policy. But travel analyst ForwardKeys has indicated that the second quarter of 2022 still looks “more promising for international travel in the world than the first quarter”.

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