Practical Information on France before you go

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Always have your valid identification papers with you.

They can be checked anywhere on the street, or whilst you  are driving your vehicle.

To drive in France, you must be in possession of your national driving licence (international, if you are not a national of the E.U.), the registration document called a “carte grise” (grey card) inFrance, and an insurance certificate. If you plan to stay less than 6 months, you can drive freely throughout France with your vehicle.



A valid passport is required of all U.S. citizens and foreign nationals entering France. No visa is needed for American visitors staying less than 90 days, unless you are a student planning to study in France. For longer stays, you must apply for a temporary-stay visa, long-term visa or residence card.


U.S. Customs

Returning U.S. citizens who have been in France more than two days can bring back $400 worth of merchandise duty-free. For those who wish to bring more of France back home with them, a flat rate of 10% duty is levied on the next $1000 worth of purchases (the duty-free limit in gifts is $100). It’s a good idea to retain the receipts from your purchases should they be requested by a Customs Inspector upon your return to the United States.

Here’s how — after making a minimum purchase of 175€, ask the store for your detaxe papers. Make sure on the paperwork you request that your refund be applied to one of your credit cards (this can be done even if you made the purchase in cash). Fill out the forms before you arrive at the airport for departure. Be sure to have the forms stamped at the clearly indicated airport customs desks. The customs official may ask to see your purchases so it’s best to have them in your carry-on bag. Mail the stamped forms at the airport (the store provides an envelope) and the refund process has begun (note – this is only if France is your final point of departure back to the U.S.).

Important reminder: The VAT can be refunded for goods, but not services

French Customs

For up-to-date and detailed information on and what you may bring to France, from currency rules, medication and entry requirements for pets, to the importation of a variety goods, food products, vehicles or even firearms, contact the French Embassy
Minors travelling alone must carry authorization for travelling signed by their parents.

No vaccinations are required for entering France.

   Rail Travel
Train service in France is efficient, punctual, and comfortable. It is one of the most popular ways to get around, allowing travelers to view the countryside in a swift, but leisurely manner. France’s extensive railway network connects large cities and towns throughout the country. Smaller towns without train stations are generally linked by bus service to the nearest station. The French National Railroads’ (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer or SNCF) network of inter-city rail links also provides frequent express and high-speed train service known as the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse. Operating at a commercial speeds of 186mph, the high-speed network also includes European routes, featuring the Eurostar which connects Paris to London in just 2h35 and the Thalys going to Brussels and Amsterdam in 1h30 and 4 hours respectively. For added convenience, the Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and Lyon Saint-Exupery Airports have high-speed train stations.


The price of train travel in France depends on whether you choose first or second class, as well as on the time and date of travel. If you planning your rail travel before you go, there are a variety off affordable and flexible passes (non-consecutive days of rail travel), including packages available for the U.S. traveler through your travel agent or Rail Europe. Rail passes for France include the France Railpass, the France Rail’n Drive, Eurail. Rail Europe also offers combo-country passes, including the France n’Italy Pass and the all new France’n Spain pass. Most passes offered by Rail Europe have specially priced youth versions as well as special passes for seniors. Point-to-point tickets can also be purchased in the U.S.

Are you a national of an E.U. country? Before leaving ask your local social security office for a “European Form E.111”. This will enable you to be reimbursed for any medical costs and prescription charges when you return.

For nationals of other countries, you should apply to an insurance company which will cover you in case of illness or accident in France.

Car Rentals

To rent a car in France you must be at least 20 years of age and have held a full driving license for at least a year. Insurance is obligatory. The main car rental companies have offices in all railway stations and airports, as well as in major city centers. See also the US Tour Operators. A car is a convenient way to move around in France. Roads are very well maintained and the French road network includes 4960 miles of motorways (many with tolls) which link Paris and the main provincial towns and cities. The minimum driving age in France is 18 years old.*

*Car Leasing
The smart and affordable alternative to car rental is to lease a brand new car from 17 to 175 days. Minimum driving age for some companies starts at 18 years old (age restrictions for some vehicle models may apply). Leasing plans include unlimited mileage, fully comprehensive insurance 24h/7roadside assistance and more