British boaters who want to spend longer than three months cruising in France will still need to apply for a visa following failed attempts to amend the French Immigration and Integration Bill

Boaters and sailors from the UK will still need a French visa if they want to spend longer than three months cruising in France.

The French authorities have rejected a proposed amendment to the French Immigration and Integration Bill, which sought to grant an automatic visa/visa waiver for six months to UK subjects who own ‘secondary residences’ in France.

The Cruising Association had actively lobbied for this bill to embrace the cruising community too, which would have enabled stays in France for longer than 90 days without the need for a visa.

The decision by the French Constitutional Court is considered final, with no avenue for appeal.

A boat with no mast going through the French canals

UK nationals can only stay in France for 90 days in 180 days. Credit: Graham Walker

For UK cruisers, this means that visa-free visits to France and the rest of the Schengen Area will continue to be 90 days in 180 days.

If you want to stay in France beyond three months than a Long Stay Temporary Visa for France, knowns as a VLS-T,  is required. These cost around £300 per couple.

A VLS-T can be applied for annually from outside France, provided the validity of the new VLS-T visa commences at least 6 months after the expiry date of any previously held VLS-T visa.

Continues below…

You can only submit an application for a new VLS-T visa within 3 months of your intended departure date. The VLS-T is valid for six months.

For stays of between six months and a year, or for stays more than one year in length, UK subjects need to apply for and be issued with a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS).

However, the VLS-TS visa is subject to a further validation procedure once in France, including a possible medical examination, and should you wish to extend it without leaving France you must apply for residency with all the associated tax implications.

Change in health cards

Since the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, the UK has been transitioning from European Health Cards (EHICs) to Global Health Insurance Cards (GHICs).

Both cards allow travellers to access state healthcare free of charge or at a reduced cost, including emergency medical care and treatment for long-term or pre-exisiting medical conditions. They are not intended to replace travel insurance.

A Global Health Insurance Card

The GHIC can be used in EU countries, Australia, Montenegro, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Credit: Ascannio/Alamy Stock Photo

However, the GHIC isn’t valid in some countries that the EHIC was, including Norway and Iceland.

The GHIC can be used in EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. It also covers Australia, Montenegro, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Further information on the GHIC and how to apply for the card can be found on the NHS website.

Enjoy reading French visa still needed for stays over 90 days?

A subscription to Practical Boat Owner magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

PBO is packed with information to help you get the most from boat ownership – whether sail or power.

        • Take your DIY skills to the next level with trusted advice on boat maintenance and repairs
        • Impartial in-depth gear reviews
        • Practical cruising tips for making the most of your time afloat

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter