Practical tips before you fly

Published on Friday 29 October 2021

To ensure peace of mind when travelling, it is essential to plan for your trip and to check that for you and those accompanying you have everything in order in terms of formalities: passports, visas, exit permit for leaving the country or territory, compulsory vaccinations, etc. Every day, dozens of passengers are refused boarding at the airport because of missing travel documents, identity documents or non-compliant documents.

Information COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is currently putting the entire air transport system under great strain. On 18 March and 13 May 2020, the European Commission published online interpretative guidelines and recommendations on passenger rights in the context of this international crisis :

If you are planning to travel, information on travel restrictions and useful travel advice by country is available on the website of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Alert - Thomas Cook

The travel company Thomas Cook announced its suspension of payments on 23 September 2019.

Clients who encounter difficulties in continuing their stay or returning to French territory are invited to:

  • contact the emergency number set up by Thomas Cook France on 01 41 05 40 81 ;
  • visit the Thomas Cook website.

Website - XL Airways

The company XL Airways declared, on Thursday evening 19 September, at the end of its works council meeting, that it was in a situation of suspension of payments. The company will today initiate a judicial recovery procedure with the Court of Commerce of Bobigny.

XL Airways is obliged to stop its sales as of today.

Alert - Aigle Azur

The airline Aigle Azur has announced the suspension of all its flights from Saturday 7 September 2019.

In addition, a procedure for the declaration of claims has been set up by the trustees in charge of the reorganisation procedure.

Systematic control on entering and leaving the Schengen area since 7 April 2017

The attacks that have hit France and several other European countries in recent months and the persistence of the terrorist threat have made it necessary to strengthen controls at the external borders of the Schengen area. For this reason, on France's initiative, the Schengen Borders Code has been amended so that all travellers entering and leaving the Schengen area are subject to systematic and thorough border checks. The new Article 8-2 of the Schengen Borders Code was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 18 March 2017 and entered into force on 7 April.
Systematic controls apply at France's external borders, as well as at internal borders during periods when controls at these borders are re-established.
In practice, since 7 April 2017, all travellers, whether they are nationals of third countries or EU countries, are subject to systematic checks on entering and leaving the Schengen area at air, sea and land borders. Previously, EU nationals were only subject to a minimal check.

This control includes:

  • verification of the authenticity of the travel document presented to prevent any attempt at falsification or usurpation
  • and consulting national, European and international databases to ensure that the person is not the subject of an alert

The Customs and Border Police services that carry out border controls are fully mobilised to ensure that these controls are carried out in accordance with the new provisions of the Schengen Borders Code and to limit their impact on the fluidity of border crossings.

The State services are also working with site managers to increase the deployment of PARAFE (1) airlocks, which automate border controls for large flows of travellers under the best security conditions. It is therefore recommended that European nationals of legal age who hold a biometric passport use these PARAFE airlocks as a priority to speed up controls.

(1) The border crossing points operated by the Border Police currently equipped with a PARAFE airlock are the following:

  • Air borders: the Paris airports of Roissy and Orly, the airports of Marseille and Lyon
  • Railway borders: St Pancras station in London.

Travelling minors

Since 15 January 2017, a minor who travels abroad without being accompanied by a person with parental authority must have an "authorisation to leave the country" signed by one of the parents with parental authority and a copy of the identity document (identity card, passport, or residence permit) of the parent who signs it.

The form can be downloaded from the link below :

You will also find on this site detailed information on the authorization to leave the country.

To simplify police checks on exit from the country and to reduce waiting times, it is strongly recommended that the minor carries a copy of the family record book proving his or her relationship with the person signing the exit permit.

Country information

Before choosing a destination, it is necessary to check the advice of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development on inadvisable destinations.

For complete information on a country, you can access the files of the Maison des français à l'étranger (practical life, health, employment, social protection, etc.).

Administrative formalities

Check the validity of your identity card

Since 1 January 2014 the validity of identity cards of all French citizens aged over 18 years has been subject to automatic extension. The validity of all identity cards issued from 2 January 2004 up to 31 December 2013 was extended for a further 5 years. The original period of validity of these identity cards was set at 10 years and that is what it says on the identity cards. By decision of the French authorities there was an extension of the validity of the documents, but without this extension being ascertainable from the document. The altered period of validity is not stated on the document, and because of the type of document it cannot be stated. It may therefore be necessary to travel abroad with that ID card.

The Ministry of Foreign affairs advises you to acquire the document from the Ministry of the Interior website which certifies, in the languages of the countries concerned, the extension of the card validity. However, Serbia, Malta and Turkey do not accept national identity cards that have expired. French citizens wishing to travel to these countries must have a valid national identity card or passport. For more details, see the detailed article on the France Diplomatie website.

Minors (under 18) are not affected by this reform: their identity card remains valid for 10 years.

Checking entry and residence formalities

To prepare for your stay abroad, you should first check the entry and residence formalities with the embassy and consulate of your destination country. (Passport or national identity card? Need for a visa?).

Most countries require a passport whose validity must expire several months after the planned date of return to France. Contact your local prefecture in good time to renew it.

Take the precaution of keeping a photocopy of the documents you are taking with you at home (in case they are lost or stolen abroad) and bring at least 2 passport photos.

French nationals can move freely within the Shengen area, which includes 21 European Union Member States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Malta, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic) and 3 countries, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, although outside the EU, associated with the Schengen area through a cooperation agreement with the signatory countries of the Convention.

The United Kingdom and Ireland have not signed the Convention but participate partially in the measures adopted under the Schengen acquis.

However, as part of the security measures taken in France and in several European countries due to the terrorist threat, identity checks may be carried out when crossing borders within the Schengen area. These measures are taken in application of articles 25, 26 and 27 of the Schengen Borders Code.

Travel to the USA

As of 1 April 2016, only holders of an e-passport or biometric passport can travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program for a tourist or business stay of up to 90 days. They must have a return ticket. Passengers transiting through the United States are required to present a visa, with the exception of persons admitted to the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.

Since January 2009, all travellers under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are required to obtain an electronic travel authorization before travelling to the United States by air or sea.

For more information, visit the ESTA website.

In addition, travellers who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or Sudan since 1 March 2011 and persons with Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian or Sudanese nationality are no longer eligible for the visa waiver scheme. These persons will now have to apply for a visa from the US diplomatic and consular authorities.

However, there is a permanent exception for full-time government employees and military personnel on official business, who will continue to be eligible for visa-free travel to the United States. The administration has also defined five other situations in which travellers who have visited the countries concerned may continue to benefit from the visa waiver. These situations include travel to :

  • on official business on behalf of an international, regional or sub-national organisation
  • on official business on behalf of a humanitarian organisation
  • as a journalist
  • for Iran, for legitimate business reasons, if the travel took place after 14 July 2015
  • for Iraq, for legitimate business reasons

For these situations, the continuation of the visa exemption will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

For a stay in the United States, the minor must have his/her own passport.

Warning: Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, security measures for flights to and from the United States have been strictly reinforced. It is strongly recommended that you consult the Transportation Security Administration for flights within the United States or from the United States.

You may be asked to turn on your phones, computers, tablets, etc.

It is also advisable to check your airline's website for boarding times, any delays and banned items.

Travel to Canada

Since 15 March 2016, all French nationals wishing to travel to Canada or transit by air must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) before their departure.

This requirement applies to visa-exempt persons (tourist stay of less than six months), holders of a study or work permit in Canada received before 1 August 2015, and permanent residents of the United States. The EV requirement does not apply to persons travelling to Canada by land or sea or to persons who have obtained a study or work permit on or after 1 August or are permanent residents of Canada.

The AVE can only be obtained through the Canadian government website.

At the time of application, it is necessary to have a valid passport, a bank card to pay the mandatory fee of 7 Canadian dollars and an email address. Information on the EV application form is available on the Government of Canada website.

The Electronic Travel Authorisation is valid for five years or until the passport expires. In addition, since 15 March 2016, the Canadian government requires its dual nationals to have a valid Canadian passport to fly to or through Canada. They cannot apply for an EVP.

However, from 15 March 2016 to the autumn of 2016, travellers without an EV may be allowed to enter Canada provided they meet the conditions for entry into Canada.

Travel to Mecca

The travel agencies and approved associations from which you buy your trip must therefore have an authorisation number issued by the prefects of the departments or by the regional prefect for the Île-de-France region; this licence or approval number must appear on the documents given to you when you sign your contract, which may be concluded in writing or by electronic means.

Your tour operator is responsible for the smooth running of your trip. The State services ensure that the law is respected and enforced. If you buy your trip from an organisation that does not hold a prefectural authorisation, you will not benefit from the guarantees provided by the Tourism Code.

Hajj in Saudi Arabia is subject to Saudi laws, which you must follow.

Health

Advice for diabetics

The French Diabetes Association has produced a guide in partnership with the French Civil Aviation Authority and Aéroports de Paris.

Its objective is to reconcile the imperatives of air safety while preserving the quality of life of travellers with diabetes.

Indeed, travelling with a disability requires careful planning to avoid a break in treatment. What certificates should I take with me? How much insulin can I take with me? What should I do with my insulin pump when I go through the portal?

All the answers to these questions can be found in the guide "Diabetes at the airport", which you can download below

 

Vaccins

Depending on your destination, it may be necessary to be vaccinated against certain diseases.

In case of illness requiring liquid medication during the flight, a doctor's prescription with the explicit name of the medication used must be provided.

Disability or reduced mobility

Are you travelling with a wheelchair or other assistive devices?

Mobility aids and assistive devices may present a risk to flight safety. Regulations apply. They can be restrictive. Contact your airline (or all airlines in the case of flights with connections) at least 48 hours before the date of the planned flight.

Remember in all cases to inform the airline. They will know how to handle your equipment.

Wheelchairs, mobility equipment, or personal assistive devices can be different and have special requirements.

To avoid any problems on the day of the flight, inform your airline (or airlines in the case of flights with connections) as soon as possible. If possible, keep the manufacturer’s user manual with you to facilitate the transport of your equipment.

Your chair may be equipped with one or more batteries. The same provisions will apply.

Disability and reduced mobility: a checklist of questions

Is my equipment electrical?

NO: I inform the airline (or airlines in case of connecting flights) at least 48 hours in advance. No other steps to be taken.

YES, your equipment is electric. Is the battery in it a lithium battery?

NO: I inform the airline (or airlines in case of flights with connections) at least 48 hours in advance. My equipment with its dry or wet battery will be handled following specific guidelines. I arrive early at the airport.

YES, your equipment is electric with a lithium battery. Can the battery be removed from the equipment (according to the manufacturer's instructions)?

NO: I inform the airline (or airlines in case of flights with connections) at least 48 hours in advance. My equipment equipped with its battery will be handled following specific guidelines. I arrive early at the airport.

YES, your equipment is electric with a removable lithium battery. Is the battery energy less than or equal to 300 Wh (Watts Hour)?

NO: I will not be able to take my battery with me (due to applicable regulations).

YES, I will notify the airline (or airlines in case of connecting flights) at least 48 hours in advance. I must remove the battery and take it with me in the cabin on the plane (or helicopter), taking care to:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions, especially regarding the removal of the battery,
  • protect the terminals from short circuits (e.g. by placing adhesive tape around the terminals),
  • protect the battery from damage (e.g. by placing it individually in a protective bag).

I may carry an extra battery in the cabin (if its energy is less than or equal to 300 Wh) or two extra batteries (if the energy of each is less than or equal to 160 Wh), while respecting the provisions described above.

    Lithium batteries

    Keep in mind that your lithium batteries are sensitive. Keep them accessible!

    Do not leave any room for doubt. Never put your batteries in the hold!

    For more information see the factsheets.

    Passenger rights with reduced mobility  :

    • The rights of air passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility (PRM) are regulated at European level. If the response from the airport operator, carrier or tour operator is not satisfactory, the passenger can appeal to France.
       
    • Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air (Text with EEA relevance)

    Prohibited or restricted liquids and objects in aircraft

    New coronavirus (May 2013)

    Following the identification of a new coronavirus in September 2012, a surveillance system was immediately set up at national level by the Institut de Veille Sanitaire. At the request of the General Health Directorate, the High Council for Public Health issued, on 19 March 2013, an opinion on the management of patients suspected of infections due to the new coronavirus.

    All this information was relayed to independent health professionals, health establishments and assistance and medical repatriation companies. The aim is to make them aware of the need to report cases and to enable the detection of possible cases.

    Travellers to and from the Near and Middle East are advised to take note of the information and advice on the posters and leaflets available at airports.

    Customs

    Some countries prohibit the entry of foodstuffs, various equipment such as cameras, transistor sets, tape recorders, etc. Check with the consular services or tourist offices of the destination country.

    Importing into France, exporting from France or simply possessing counterfeit trademark products is a customs offence that exposes you to customs and criminal penalties.

    Please note: when you return from a period abroad, you should check the different customs formalities depending on where you are coming from (EU or non-EU).

    Luggage - Security measures

    Some practical advice:

    • Find out the weight limit for your luggage from your airline to avoid any surprises on arrival at the airport,
    • remove old tags from your luggage to avoid confusion when checking it in.

    Following the introduction of security measures on liquids in the cabin, it is recommended that you avoid all liquids in your hand luggage in order to facilitate your passage through security.

    If you still wish to bring some liquid products with you, they should be presented in a closed transparent plastic bag of approximately 20 cm by 20 cm, and your bottles and tubes should not exceed 100 ml each.

    For more information, see the Fact Sheet on liquids and objects prohibited or restricted in aircraft