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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.
Safety and security
Safety and security
State of Emergency
Following the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris, French authorities declared a country-wide state of emergency. Controls were reinstated at points of entry into the country and enhanced security measures were put in place at airports. During the state of emergency, French authorities could impose curfews in certain areas and restrict traffic in some neighbourhoods, causing disruptions to public transportation (particularly in Île-de-France). The state of emergency also heightens the 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. Remain vigilant at all times, monitor local news and follow the instructions of local authorities.
There is a threat of terrorism. Since 2015, there has been an increase in terrorist attacks in France. Several attacks were committed in public areas, leaving many people dead or injured. Further attacks are likely.
Targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, airports, transportation networks and public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels, and sites frequented by foreigners. Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places.
The French government maintains a terrorist alert system, Vigipirate (French only), the purpose of which is to protect the country’s population, infrastructure and institutions, and to prepare response measures in case of attack. The Ministry of Interior has launched a free smartphone app that alerts users to a suspected terrorist attack or an exceptional situation. The alert level for France is currently at the highest level. Expect increased security measures and 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.
Petty crimes (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. Limit the use of mobile phones while on 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.
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.
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.
Fraudulent electronic readout devices are sometimes used at automated banking machines (ABMs) in France. These devices are designed to capture the account information stored on the card’s magnetic strip through a card reader fixed over the legitimate reader. The customer’s PIN is recorded with a small video camera installed above the keypad. The victim’s banking information is then sold or traded online. To avoid being a victim of this fraud, use ABMs located 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 and check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements.
Some bars and “cabarets” have been known to overcharge customers for drinks. Discussions about overcharging may lead to threats of violence and security guards may force you to pay.
Strikes, student demonstrations, labour unrest and other protests are banned during the state of emergency; however, these may continue to occur occasionally and 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 instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Towns and ski resorts may be snowed in and roads made impassable after heavy snowfalls. There is a risk of avalanches, especially following heavy snowfalls, and some have resulted in deaths.
If you intend to do mountaineering or skiing:
- never practice these activities alone;
- always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company;
- buy travel health insurance that covers helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
- ensure your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity;
- advise 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;
- sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service; and,
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture away from marked trails or slopes.
If you are planning a mountaineering or skiing holiday, consult the Association nationale pour l’étude de la neige et des avalanches (ANENA, national association for the study of snow and avalanches, site in French) for information on weather and safety conditions, and follow the advice carefully.
General safety information
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.
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.
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.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket or proof of onward travel.
For additional information on documents required to enter the country, visit Service-Public.fr (in French only), France’s public service website.
France is a Schengen area country. Upon arrival, Canadians are required to present a passport that must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from the Schengen area. 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.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives 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.
Temporary border controls
The French government has reintroduced internal border controls at certain border crossings. Canadians may be required to pass through immigration 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
* The 90-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
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. 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. For more information, see Schengen area.
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.
For more information and a copy of the authorization to leave the country form, consult the Official French public service website (available in French).
See Children for more information on special documentation requirements.
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 - 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. You may be required to pay in advance, especially if you do not have travel insurance.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and France are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). 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 always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a French passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). 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 on French soil 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.
You are strongly advised to keep photocopies of the identification page of your passport, as well as of 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 location. If possible, consider scanning these documents and saving the files in your email account.
It is illegal to cover your face in public places in France. Failure to comply can lead to heavy fines.
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. 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.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless the device is fitted with a hands-free device.
Traffic must yield way to cars entering an intersection from the right even if entering from smaller roads. Unless otherwise indicated, traffic in the circle must yield to entering vehicles at a roundabout.
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.
Additional information regarding road safety can be found on the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport website.
The currency of France is the euro (EUR).
Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are widely accepted and automated banking machines 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 European Commission’s Cash controls website.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Floods sometimes occur. The French government maintains a water level forecast service, Vigicrues. Remain vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
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.
In mountainous regions, avalanches present a risk and have resulted in fatalities. If you are planning on mountaineering or skiing, consult ANENA (in French) for information on weather and safety conditions, and follow the advice carefully.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Paris - Embassy of Canada
Nice - Consulate of Canada
Toulouse - Consulate of Canada
Lyon - Consulate of Canada
Please call before visiting the consulates.
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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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