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FRANCE - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for France. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the current elevated threat of terrorism.
Following the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, the French authorities have raised the Vigipirate alert to the highest level (terrorist alert) and have declared a country-wide state of emergency.
See Security for more details<.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
State of Emergency
Following the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, the French authorities have raised the Vigipirate alert to the highest level (terrorist alert) and have declared a country-wide state of emergency. Controls have been reinstated at points of entry, enhanced security measures have been put in place at airports, curfews could be imposed in certain areas, traffic could be restricted in some neighbourhoods and there could be disruptions to public transportation in Ile-de-France. Due to the state of emergency, there is a heightened potential for police raids to take place. If you are in an area where a police raid is being conducted, remain indoors, close all windows and blinds, and stay away from windows. Exercise a high degree of personal security awareness, maintain a heightened level of vigilance and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
The French government has set up a hotline to provide information +33 (0) 1 45 55 80 00.
Petty crime (pickpocketing and purse snatching) occur in major tourist areas, in department stores, in train and bus stations and aboard public transport, especially in larger cities. Purse snatchers operate both on foot and on motorcycles. These thieves are very skilled and often work in groups.
There has been a significant increase in violent theft on public transportation in Paris and its suburbs. Thieves often use violence (bag snatching) and target people talking on phones. Limit the use of mobile phones while on public transportation to avoid attracting attention.
If you are robbed, go to the nearest commissariat de police (police station) to report the crime. They will provide you with a declaration of theft. Keep a copy of this document, as you will need it if you require a new passport or you wish to make an insurance claim. If the theft occurred in the metro, you may ask for assistance from a metro agent, who will direct you to the nearest police station.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels, schools, places of worship and airports and other transportation hubs. Exercise caution if attending sporting events, religious holiday celebrations and other public festivities. Remain vigilant at all times, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
The French government maintains a government alert system, Vigipirate (French only), the purpose of which is to protect the country’s population, infrastructures and institutions, and to prepare response measures in case of attack. The alert level for France is currently at the highest level (terrorist alert). Expect tighter security measures and increased police/military presence at all points of entry (road, rail, sea and air) and in public areas. Monitor the Ministry of Interior’s website (French only) for additional information.
Strikes, student demonstrations, labour unrest and other protests occur occasionally. They can lead to significant disruptions to public transportation and postal services. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Roads in France are well maintained. Drive defensively and obey traffic regulations. Excessive speeding poses a risk.
There is a high frequency of vehicle break-ins. Leave nothing in view in the vehicle and above all do not leave valuable objects, passports, money or credit cards in a vehicle. As well, never leave personal belongings unattended and use secure parking facilities, especially overnight. Be vigilant when renting automobiles, as rented vehicles are target of choice.
Theft of parked cars or their contents is particularly common on beach roads in Corsica. There are also reports of thefts from vehicles parked at Normandy beaches and war cemeteries.
Always be suspicious if individuals signal for you to stop on the highway. Drivers are often tricked into stopping their cars by thieves who either obstruct the road or distract the driver (for example by flashing their headlights). They may also pretend that you have a flat tire (which they sometimes puncture themselves). Once the vehicle is stopped, the thieves seize the opportunity to steal a bag or other valuable objects. Aggravated thefts sometimes occur at isolated rest stops along highways.
Be especially vigilant when stopped at traffic lights, as bags are often snatched from the front passenger seat by thieves travelling on scooters. Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times.
Major cities have an effective public transportation system and are served by an extensive intercity rail network.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Exercise normal safety precautions. Never leave your bags unsupervised at a ticket office or a registration desk. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Ensure as well that your credit and debit cards, cash and any other financial resources are not all kept in the same place. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.
You are strongly advised to keep photocopies of the identification page of your passport, as well as your birth certificate, Canadian citizenship card, driver’s licence, train or plane tickets and credit cards. Keep originals and copies in a safe but separate place. If possible, consider scanning these documents and saving the files in your email account.
There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe. Some countries have already experienced disruptions to transportation services, including at ferry ports and railway stations, and have seen major delays at border crossings. The situation also heightens the potential for demonstrations that could turn violent without warning, particularly at railway stations and other transportation hubs. If you are travelling in the region, monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities, and contact your transport carrier to determine whether the situation could disrupt your travel.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the French authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of France or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit France, which must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket or a connecting flight.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days*
Long-stay or residency visa: Required for stays more than 90 days
Professional visa: Required
Student visa: Required
* The 90 days begin upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area.
The following 26 countries comprise the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Schengen area has common rules regarding visas and controls at external borders and has abolished checks within the area’s internal borders. However, some Schengen area countries may require that you register with local authorities shortly after your arrival, particularly when staying in private accommodations.
Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any country within the Schengen area.
It is important to get your passport stamped when you first enter the Schengen area. The absence of an entry stamp from the initial Schengen port of entry could create difficulties during subsequent encounters with local police or other authorities throughout the Schengen area or at the time of departure from the area.
If you overstay the permitted 90 days in the Schengen area, you may be fined or deported. If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for longer than the 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel.
The European Commission’s (EC's) Migration and Home Affairs provides additional information and a calculator of travel days remaining, taking into account previous stays in the Schengen area.
The Schengen Borders Code allows member states to temporarily reintroduce internal border controls in the event that a serious threat to public policy or internal security has been established. Canadians wishing to enter a Schengen area country that has reintroduced internal border controls could be required to present a passport, valid for at least three months from the time of expected departure from that country. For additional information, visit the EC’s Temporary Reintroduction of Border Control.
Following the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, border controls between France and other Schengen area member states have been re-instated. In case of theft or loss of your passport in a country neighbouring France, contact the Canadian government office serving that country, instead of trying to re-enter France to apply for a replacement.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In Corsica, there is a risk of schistosomiasis. Avoid exposure to freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds) in this area.
Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Good medical care is widely available.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and France are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in France to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and French authorities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in France. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a French citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Although France recognizes dual citizenship, dual citizens are considered French citizens and are subject to French laws.
You must carry your passport at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
You must be at least 18 years of age to drive a car in France. An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Speed limits and other driving regulations may be strictly enforced through heavy, on-the-spot fines and the confiscation of a driver’s licence. Numerous roadside cameras have been installed to help enforce traffic regulations. Radar detection systems are prohibited.
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe, especially when an incident causes death. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent.
A reflective vest and warning triangle are mandatory in all vehicles.
The currency of France is the euro (EUR).
Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are widely accepted and automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Forest fires often occur during the summer months on the Mediterranean coast and in Corsica. In case of a major fire, stay away from affected areas, follow the advice of local emergency services personnel, and monitor local media for up-to-date information. The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke and affect travellers with respiratory ailments. For assistance, contact the Embassy of Canada in Paris.
In mountainous regions, avalanches present a risk and have resulted in fatalities. If you are planning a mountaineering or skiing holiday, consult the website of the Association nationale pour l’étude de la neige et des avalanches (available in French) for information on weather and safety conditions, and follow advice carefully. Take note of the coordinates of the Embassy of Canada in Paris or those of the nearest Canadian consulate to contact in the event of an emergency.
Paris - Embassy of Canada
Nice - Consulate of Canada
Toulouse - Consulate of Canada
Lyon - Consulate of Canada
Please call before visiting the consulates.
For emergency assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Paris and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre located in Ottawa.
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