Each month we answer one of your most frequently asked questions on buying or selling French property, moving to or living in France. This month, digital editor Zoë Smith addresses one of the most commonly asked questions regarding travelling to France with your EU spouse.
Question: Can I Travel to France With My EU Spouse?
My wife and I are UK residents and UK passport holders, but she also holds an Irish passport and so she can visit our second home in France without restriction. Am I entitled to get a visa that would allow me to accompany her for visits of more than 6 months cumulatively each year?
Answer: Yes. French citizens, EU citizens, and permanent residents all have the right to bring their spouses and dependant family members with them to France, for both short and long trips. However, you do need to provide the correct documentation.
First things first: as a British citizen (and this rule also applies to most non-EU/EEA citizens), you don’t need a visa to visit France, but you are subject to the 90/180-day rule, which you can read more about here. But what happens if you want to stay longer?
If you have overstayed the 90-day allowance and wish to enter the EU:
If you are travelling to an EU country with your EU national spouse, you should be granted entry without a visa, even if you have overstayed your 90 days, providing that you can prove your relationship. As laid out in the official EU rules on Europa.eu (find the full text here):
“It is always best for your non-EU family members to be well-informed in advance and to have all the necessary documents before starting their journey.
However, if they arrive at the border with their passport but without an entry visa, the border authorities should give them the opportunity to prove by other means that they are family members of a mobile EU citizen. They can do so by providing proof of their identity and family ties with an EU citizen (for example, a marriage or birth certificate) and, proof that they are joining or accompanying the EU citizen (for example, proof that the EU citizen is already living in the country where entry is sought). If they manage to prove it, they should be issued with an entry visa on the spot.”
If this situation applies to you, you should ensure that you have the correct documentation with you when you travel, for example, your marriage certificate.
If you want to stay longer than 90 days in France or another EU country:
If you wish to stay in an EU country for longer than 90 days, you are entitled to do this as the spouse of an EU citizen, you may enter the country without a visa. However, you will need to apply for a residency permit or Carte de Séjour within three months of your arrival in France.
The application process can be done online and follows a simplified process. Application requirements may differ depending on your personal situation, but typically you will need to provide your ID, marriage certificate, your spouse’s ID and proof of living together for more than six months (such as a utility bill in both of your names, a rental contract, or a joint bank account). You will also need to sign an attestation of non-polygamy.
A Carte de Séjour marked “family member of an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen” will typically be issued for five years and will allow you to come and go as often as you like for the duration of its validity. This residency card can be renewed within two months of its expiry.
*** It’s important to note that the procedure is different if you are married to a French national rather than an EU national – our article French Residency: Can I Join My EU Spouse or Family Member in France? explains more.
What about if I don’t want to move to France?
Note that the above-mentioned Carte de Séjour is a residency card and is therefore intended for those wishing to take up residency, either temporarily or permanently in France. If you wish to travel to France with your EU spouse for a period of up to six months, you need to apply for a temporary long-stay visa prior to travel. Note that this is still required even if you are travelling with your EU spouse and failure to do this will likely result in a fine as well as an over-stay stamp in your passport.
Have you applied for a French Carte de Séjour as the spouse of an EU citizen? Do you travel with your EU spouse to France for stays of more than 90 days? Please get in touch and share your experience!
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