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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in France due to the threat of terrorist attack. Be vigilant. Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor the news and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • We continue to receive information that terrorists may be planning further attacks in France. An attack could occur at any time. Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • There have been several major terrorist attacks in France. Since 2015, over 200 people have been killed and hundreds injured. ISIL has claimed responsibility for some of these attacks. Future attacks are likely.
  • A state of emergency which gives French authorities additional powers to manage the security situation has been extended until 1 November 2017. Large public gatherings are restricted. Access to public areas may be restricted. Expect increased security checks at borders, including the checking and recording of your identification. See Safety and security.
  • During the summer months, forest fires can occur in France's Mediterranean coast region. Monitor the media for up-to-date information and follow instructions from local authorities. See Additional information.
  • Protect your personal belongings at all times, especially your passport. Petty crime, including bag snatching and pickpocketing, is a serious problem in tourist areas and on public transport.
  • Due to scams, exercise caution when booking travel by choosing reputable travel providers. Avoid providing your identity details to unknown sources. Accommodation scams resulting in identity theft have been reported. See Safety and security.
  • Demonstrations occur regularly in major cities around France. Avoid protests and public demonstrations.
  • See Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

France is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries. This allows you to enter France without a visa in some circumstances. 

In other circumstances, you'll need a visa.

More information: Schengen Convention

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of France for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

Make sure you get a legible entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area (including France) for the first time.

Under French law you're required to carry photo ID at all times. French police conduct random identity checks, particularly at border crossings.

If you're travelling to France for reasons other than tourism, or for more than 90 days, you must get a visa from French authorities in Australia before you arrive in France. You can't apply for a French visa inside French territory. You also can't change your visa status once inside French territory (for example, from a tourist visa to a student visa or a resident visa).

Unaccompanied minors (under 18 years of age) who normally live in France and who wish to depart French territory, must hold their own identity document, a copy of a parent/guardian's identification and a completed form issued by the French Ministry of Interior.

More information: French Ministry of the Interior (in French language only)

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

By law, you must report the loss or theft of your passport to the Australian Government as soon as possible. You can:

Your passport is a valuable travel document. If you have lost your passport, or had it stolen, go to the nearest Commissariat de Police (police station) to report the crime. A declaration of theft or loss will be provided to you. This declaration could be useful if you intend to lodge an insurance claim.

Report the loss or theft of your passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
   

Money

Declare cash of €10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling between France and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and traveller's cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or you give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, France, you will be fined. You don't need to declare cash if you are travelling to or from another EU country.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We continue to receive information that terrorists may be planning further attacks in France. An attack could occur at any time. Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.

Exercise a high degree of caution in France due to the threat of terrorist attack. The domestic terror threat level is currently at the second highest level ('Enhanced security due to risk of attack' or 'Sécurité renforcée Risque d'attentat').

There have been a number of recent attacks in France:

  • On 9 August 2017, a vehicle struck a group of French soldiers in Levallois-Perret in Paris; six soldiers were injured, three seriously.
  • On 19 June 2017, an individual attempted to attack a police convoy on the Champs-Élysées in central Paris. There were no reports of injuries to the public or police. The attacker was killed by police.  
  • On 20 April 2017, an individual attacked a police checkpoint on the Champs-Élysées in central Paris resulting in the shooting death of a police officer. The attacker was killed by police.
  • On 18 March 2017, a military patrol was attacked at Orly Airport in Paris. The attacker was killed by military personnel.
  • On 3 February 2017, an individual attacked a military patrol with a machete at an entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris resulting in minor injuries to one soldier.
  • On 26 July 2016, an attack on a church in St Etienne du Rouvray in northern France resulted in the death of a priest. ISIL claimed responsibility.
  • On 14 July 2016, a terrorist attack in Nice killed at least 84 people and injured more than 100.
  • On 13 November 2015, 130 people were killed and over 300 injured in coordinated attacks at six locations in Paris. ISIL claimed responsibility.  

A state of emergency which gives the French authorities additional powers to deal with the security situation has been extended until 1 November 2017. Large public gatherings have been restricted. Access to public areas may also be restricted.

French authorities have also announced the continuation of border controls at certain entry points to France. Expect increased security checks at borders, including the checking and recording of identification, which may cause some delays.

There are heightened security measures in public places, including shopping areas, tourist sites and transportation hubs, and at major events which attract large crowds.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 

More information:

  • The French government has also released a free smartphone app, SAIP, that sends warnings and advice to users in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.
  • Terrorist threat worldwide.

Civil unrest and Political tension

Protests and large demonstrations are common in France and can escalate to violence and rioting.

  • Avoid protests, demonstrations and political rallies.
  • Avoid, outlying Paris suburbs, particularly at night, where there have been civil unrest and clashes in the past.
  • Monitor local news and other sources for information on planned and possible unrest.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.

Crime

Petty Crime

Petty crime, including bag snatching, pick-pocketing, passport theft and theft from cars is common, particularly on the streets of larger cities such as Paris, Marseilles and Nice. 

Take care to protect your personal belongings (bags, cameras, passports) at all times, especially in high-density tourist areas such as Pigalle, the Latin quarter, around the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and, Versailles, department stores, restaurants, markets, on public transport and at airports. Every landmark in France that attracts tourists will attract interest from criminals.

There is a growing incidence of violent attacks against tourists by groups of young people, usually occurring late at night around major tourist attractions such as the Champs-Elysées, the Louvre and the Palais Royal areas, the Les Halles district, and the Latin Quarter in central Paris.

Crime on public transport

There has been a significant increase in violent theft on public transport, especially in Paris and its suburbs. Airports, public transport, tourist areas, hotel lobbies, restaurants and cafes, and beaches are prime targets for thieves who frequently work in groups using a variety of sophisticated or aggressive methods to distract and rob potential victims. Children can be used to distract tourists or even play an active role in theft.

Violent attacks have been reported around the environs of the Gare du Nord train station, main train stations in the provinces and on the RER (regional) train lines linking Paris and its suburbs.

Crime, including robbery and muggings, are frequently reported on the train system servicing Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) and Orly Airports. Travellers should consider other means of transport from the airports to Paris, such as bus or taxi, particularly late at night and early in the morning.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in places frequented by tourists.
  • Carry only what you need for the day. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Avoid walking in quiet and poorly lit streets, especially at night.
  • Always keep your car doors locked and keep luggage and valuables out of sight – when driving and when parked.
  • Only use ATMs in secure locations such as banks, shops and shopping centres.
  • Always keep your ATM and credit cards in sight.
  • Monitor local sources for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Vehicle break-ins

Vehicles are frequently the target of crime, including purse snatching from cars stopped in traffic and theft from unattended vehicles, particularly in the south of France near the Spanish border, near the Italian border and in the north, on the remembrance trail around the Somme and in Normandy. Rental vehicles are often targeted, even in small villages. 

  • Never leave valuables in your car.
  • When you leave your car, make sure it is locked.
  • Whenever you can, use a secure parking facility, especially overnight.
  • Be particularly vigilant at isolated automated service stations.
  • Avoid sleeping in rest areas beside autoroutes (motorways) and major roads, or in makeshift or unauthorised camp grounds on the outskirts of cities.

Fraud and fake money

Credit card and ATM fraud involving 'skimming' machines which can store card data is rising, particularly at automated service stations and in tourist areas.

Be wary of strangers who invite you for a complimentary drink or show at a private club. Some foreigners accepting such offers have had large sums debited from their credit cards before they were permitted to leave the venue.

Exercise caution when booking travel by choosing reputable travel providers. Avoid providing your identity details to unknown sources. We have had reports of accommodation scams resulting in identity theft.

Local Travel

Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers. Carry your passport when crossing borders, including within the Schengen area. Monitor border conditions by checking local news sources and asking transport providers directly.

Road travel

Exercise caution while driving in France or travelling in a vehicle as a passenger. Keep vehicle doors locked in slow-moving traffic and secure your vehicle when left unattended.

French authorities have cleared the migrant camp in Calais. However there continue to be some reports of disturbances in the area. Remain vigilant when crossing from France to the UK by car.

It is obligatory for all vehicles to carry a reflective vest and warning triangle for use in case of breakdown.

The minimum age to drive a vehicle is 18.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

If you wish to drive in France, you must have a valid Australian driver's licence issued by a relevant authority before leaving Australia. Prior to leaving Australia, obtain a valid International Driving Permit (IDP), which may be required by car rental companies. See Road travel page for relevant IDP authority.

Australians resident in France may exchange their Australian driver's licence for a French licence within the first 12 months of their residency.

Taxis

Only use licenced, official taxis. Assaults and robberies have occurred in unlicenced taxis. Unlicenced taxis often target high-traffic destinations such as airports, train stations, theatres and nightclubs. In Paris, licenced taxis have the sign 'Taxi Parisien' located on the top of the car. Private car companies are legal, but must be pre-booked.

Public transport

If you use any of France's public transport systems, ensure you retain your used or "validated" ticket until you exit the system. Inspectors conduct random checks and passengers who fail to present a validated ticket for their journey are subject to an on-the-spot fine. Failure to co-operate with inspectors can result in arrest.

Air safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in France.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. 

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and convicted offenders can receive long jail sentences.

More information: Drugs

Other laws

In France, failing to offer assistance to 'a person in danger' is illegal. If you fail to stop upon witnessing a motor accident, fail to report such an accident to emergency services, or ignore appeals for help or urgent assistance, you may be charged. Penalties include suspended prison sentences and fines. The law does not apply in situations where to answer an appeal for help might endanger your safety or the safety of others.

Under French law, you're required to carry an identification document, such as your passport, at all times.

It is illegal to conceal your face in public places in France. This includes motorcycle helmets, balaclavas, full veils or any other garment or mask that is used to conceal the face. Failure to comply with the ban is punishable by a maximum fine of 150 Euros. Under this law, forcing someone to hide their face is also a crime and is punishable by a year's imprisonment and a fine of up to 30,000 Euros. If the person forced to hide their face is a minor, the sentence is doubled. The law does not provide any exemption for tourists.

There are severe penalties for traffic infringements. Penalties may include immediate confiscation of your licence and vehicle and on-the-spot fines.

It is illegal to photograph security forces, including police. Penalties may include detention and confiscation of film and/or camera.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

Dual nationals

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars up front.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information:

Health risks

Health risks in France are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in France is comparable to Australia.

There is no reciprocal medical agreement between Australia and France. Before admitting patients, hospitals usually require:

  • guarantee of payment
  • confirmation of medical insurance
  • up front deposit.

Costs per day in a public hospital range between A$1,350 to A$3,350, depending upon the treatment.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 112

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact an Australian mission.

Australian Embassy, France

4 Rue Jean Rey,
75015 Paris FRANCE
Telephone: +33 1 4059 3300
Facsimile: +33 1 4059 3310
E-mail: consular.paris@dfat.gov.au
Website: france.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy or Consulate-General, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, 800 877 790 (Italian toll free number) or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Avalanches and mudslides

Avalanches and mudslides are a danger in some mountain areas. There have been a number of fatalities in recent years.

If you're skiing or mountaineering:

  • monitor advice on weather and safety conditions
  • do not move off marked slopes or trails
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • monitor local media.

In some areas, skiing or mountaineering off marked trails may result in detention and prosecution.

Forest Fires

During the summer months, forest and grass fires occur regularly, particularly along the Mediterranean coast and on Corsica.

If you are in an area affected by forest fires:

  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • monitor local media.

Flooding

Flash flooding can affect infrastructure (including, communications), making road travel extremely difficult, and has resulted in the loss of lives.

If you are in an area affected by flooding:

  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • monitor local media.

Beaches

The beaches along the French Atlantic coast can be particularly dangerous, especially on the south-western coast. A number of people drown every year. Swim at supervised beaches and respect the colour-coded flags which warn against dangerous swimming conditions. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Additional Resources