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France - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in France due to the current elevated threat of terrorism.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crimes (pickpocketing and purse snatching) occur in large cities and the following areas:
- major tourist areas
- department stores
- train and bus stations
- public transportation
Purse snatchers operate both on foot and motorcycle. These thieves are very skilled and often work in groups.
Limit the use of mobile phones while taking public transportation, to avoid attracting attention.
There have been reports of violent attacks on tourists by groups of young people. These usually take place at night around major tourist attractions and railway stations in Paris, the trains (RER) connecting Paris to its suburbs and at main railway stations in other large cities.
- Never leave your bags unsupervised at a ticket office or a registration desk
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including 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
On the road
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 and other travel documents, money or credit cards in a vehicle. Use secure parking facilities where available, especially overnight. Be particularly vigilant when renting automobiles, as rented vehicles are a target of choice.
Theft of parked cars or their contents is particularly common on beach roads in the south of France and at highway rest stops throughout the country, especially during the summer when there are a high number of travellers.
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.
Victims of crime
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 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. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities. In France, separate attacks causing multiple deaths and injuries have taken place. The attacks were indiscriminate and targeted public places, including an entertainment venue, restaurants and tourist sites. While the majority of attacks have occurred in Paris and surrounding areas, the likelihood of an attack elsewhere in France cannot be ruled out. Further attacks in Europe are also likely.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
Expect increased security measures and police/military presence at all points of entry (road, rail, sea and air) and in public areas.
More information about the terrorist threat in France - France's Ministère de l'interieur (Department of Interior, in French only)
Vigipirate alert system
Vigipirate is a French government threat alert system. The system is in place to protect the country’s population, infrastructure and institutions, and to prepare response measures in the case of attack.
Current terrorism threat alert level in France - Vigipirate (in French only)
The Department of the Interior launched an app that alerts users in the event of a major crisis in France. The SAIP (système d’alerte et d’information des populations) app is available in English on iOS and Android platforms.
More information about the SAIP app - Department of the Interior (in French only)
Fraud is committed with credit card and ATM usage in France. Be careful when using your debit or credit card.
- Be vigilant when your cards are handled by other people for a payment.
- Use ATMs in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business.
- Avoid card readers with an irregular aspect.
- Cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN.
- Check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements.
Demonstrations may occur occasionally. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations.
Roads in France are well maintained. Drive defensively and obey traffic regulations. Excessive speeding poses a risk.
Major cities have an effective public transportation system and are served by an extensive intercity rail network.
Use only officially marked taxis and do not share them with strangers.
Occasional strike action and migrant activity in and around Calais can cause delays when using cross-channel services to travel to and from the United Kingdom. Contact your transportation carrier for up-to-date information and monitor local news.
Towns and ski resorts may be snowed in and roads made impassable after heavy snowfalls. There is a risk of avalanches and some have resulted in deaths.
If you intend to do mountaineering or skiing:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Information on mountain conditions - Association nationale pour l’étude de la neige et des avalanches (ANENA, national association for the study of snow and avalanches, in French)
Migrants and refugies
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the French authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Detailed information on documents required to enter France - Public service of France (in French only)
France is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Temporary border controls
The French government has reintroduced domestic border controls at certain border crossings. Canadians may be required to pass through controls when entering France, even if arriving from another Schengen area country.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days
Long-stay or residency visa: Required for stays longer than 90 days
Work permit: Required
Student visa: Required for stays longer than 90 days
Children and travel
To leave France, any child under the age of 18 who normally resides in France must be accompanied by at least one parent. Children travelling without at least one parent must be in possession of an authorization to leave the country signed by one of the parents, as well as a photocopy of the signing parent’s identification.
- More information and a copy of the authorization to leave the country form - French administration service (in French only)
- More about travelling with children
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
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.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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.
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 in France. You may be required to pay in advance, especially if you do not have travel insurance.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
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 and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Canada and France are signatories to the 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.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of France, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
You must carry your passport at all times. You may be subject to identity checks when you’re in France.
Keep photocopies or digital copies of the following documents, in case of loss or seizure:
- the identification page of your passport
- your birth certificate
- your Canadian citizenship card
- your driver’s licence
Keep originals and copies in separate safe locations.
It is illegal to cover your face in public places in France, including in the international arrivals area at airports. Failure to comply can lead to a heavy fine. There are no exemptions for tourists or for religious reasons.
More about the law prohibiting face coverings in public places - French administration service (in French)
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
When using public transportation throughout France, you must retain your validated ticket until you exit the system. Failure to produce a validated ticket will result in fines. Failing to cooperate with inspectors could result in you being arrested.
You must be at least 18 years of age to drive a car in France.
You should carry an International Driving Permit.
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.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless the device is fitted with a hands-free device.
Traffic must yield to vehicles entering an intersection from the right even if they are entering from smaller roads.
Traffic in a roundabout has priority over vehicles trying to enter it (that is, priority switches to vehicles from the left).
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe, especially when an incident causes death. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05%.
A reflective vest and warning triangle are mandatory in all vehicles.
- Additional information regarding road safety in France - European Commission
- More about the International Driving Permit
The currency of France is the euro (EUR).
Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are widely available.
Upon entering or leaving the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs if you have €10,000 or more, 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 European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.
Information on cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
In mountainous regions, avalanches present a risk and have resulted in fatalities. If you are planning on skiing or mountaineering, consult ANENA (in French) for information on weather and safety conditions, and follow the advice carefully.
Additional information on mountain conditions - Association nationale pour l’étude de la neige et des avalanches (ANENA, national association for the study of snow and avalanches, site in French only)
Floods sometimes occur. The French government maintains a water-level forecast service, Vigicrues. Be vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Latest information about water levels (vigicrues) - France’s Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire (in French only)
Forest fires often occur during the summer months, particularly 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.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
The Consulate of Canada in Lyon will be temporarily closed from June 7, 2018. It is expected to reopen in the fall of 2018. If you need consular assistance, contact the embassy of Canada in Paris.
Please call before visiting the consulates.
Paris - Embassy of Canada
Nice - Consulate of Canada
Toulouse - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular 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 in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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