Assessing travel and visa obligations in France

When traveling to France, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require a work permit. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.

Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to France, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend business meetings
  • Buy goods for sale outside the country
  • Attend a trade show or seminar convention
  • Explore business opportunities on behalf of an employer abroad


If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for France?

Nationals of the European Union, the United States and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in France.

France is a member of the Schengen Area, a free-travel zone comprised of 29 European countries. If your nationality is not eligible for a visa waiver in the Schengen Area, you will be required to obtain a Schengen C Visa prior to travel. Visa-waivered nationals, as well as those who are required to obtain a visa, are authorized to travel to France and throughout the Schengen Area. Please note that travelers may not spend more than 90 days within any 180-day period inside the Schengen Area.

Working in France

What types of activities require a work permit?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under French law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in France, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • Project implementation
  • Marketing
  • Consulting

In limited circumstances, foreign nationals may engage in certain professional activities without obtaining work authorization while on assignment, although strict preconditions must be met. An individual assessment is required before deciding whether an assignment exemption is applicable.


If I am traveling to France for work, what type of work permit do I need?

The requirements for a work permit depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in France. The most common French work permits are:

  • Short-Term Work Permit – Service Provider (work authorization for short-term assignments of up to 90 days in any 180-day period)
  • Short-Term Work Permit – Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) (work authorization for the temporary transfer of third-country nationals from an international company based outside of the EU to a host entity in France that belongs to the same company or group of companies)
  • Short-Term Work Permit – Direct Hire (work authorization for third-country nationals on a short-term local contract)
  • Temporary Worker Work Permits (work authorization for 12 months or less)
  • Direct Hire
  • Service Provider
  • Secondee
  • ICT Permits (Directive 2014/66/EU)
  • ICT Détaché Permit
  • ICT Intern Permit
  • Mobile ICT Permit
  • Work Permit for Direct Hire (long-term work authorization for local hires)
  • Passeport Talent – Employee on Assignment (work authorization for intra-company transferees within the same company or corporate group under a local contract and payroll)
  • Passeport Talent – EU Blue Card (work permit for highly skilled direct hires)
  • Passeport Talent – French Tech Visa (work authorization for those working in the tech industry)


Is it possible to be exempted from work permit requirements?

Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are not required to obtain a work permit in order to work in France. However, registrations or other formalities may be required prior to working or residing in France.

Additional work permit exemptions for short-term and long-term assignments are available in France, such as under Vander Elst rules and Employee of EU Service Provider. In this case, a legal assessment to determine the possibilities for a work permit exemption should be obtained prior to traveling.


What else should I know?

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which governs post-Brexit relations between the EU and the U.K., has altered immigration regulations in the affected countries. Please be sure to contact your immigration representative for full details regarding the TCA’s impact in France.

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.