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Applying for a French Long Term “Visitor” Visa – For stays longer than 90 days this ski season

Update 25/01/2024: The amendments to the Immigration Bill were thrown out as being “unconstitutional” on a technicality that it expanded the scope of the original bill too much. MPs say they will start again but who knows how long this will take, the Long Term Visa looks the way ahead for the moment.

Update 20/12/2023: From The Connexion – “A new immigration law which includes giving UK non-residents who own a second home in France the right to an ‘automatic’ visa to come to France for stays of more than 90 days has been voted through definitively by the French parliament… The next stage is consideration of the text of the whole immigration law by France’s constitutional council, to double check that no measures contradict the Constitution. This will take up to a month; so until mid-January.” A new process for extended stays for second home-owners could be in place before the end of 2024.

The issues of UK nationals working a Ski Season in France have been well documented although savvy companies who went through the process of applying for work permits for UK passport holders (and then the employee obtains a visa based on the work permit) last season appear to be finding it easier and slicker this year.

What is not so widely documented is the French Long Term “Visitor” Visa for those that are not working.

Currently, UK Passport Holders can only stay in France (or any Schengen Country) for 90 days in any 180 day rolling time-frame period. It takes a while to get your head around this “rolling period” and for the vast majority of people it’s not an issue, but if you spent Jan/Feb/Mar skiing in France, Switzerland and Italy (for example) you couldn’t then spend a month in Spain or Greece (or a stag weekend in Prague) until 1st July.

So if you came out skiing for the season at the start of December you would have to head elsewhere before the wonderful month of March skiing. There are various Schengen Visa Calculators online to help you work this out – normally it’s a lot more complicated than the above examples.

The Schengen Countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland (with Croatia added in 2023). So spending time in Bulgaria, Andora, Cyprus and Ireland (for example) doesn’t count towards your 90 days – and technically Monaco or San Marino but who knows how that works…

The French Long Stay “Visitor” Visa Solution

For those who have saved up to do a season, are retired, second home owners or taking a sabbatical (basically not working or taking part in any professional activity) the answer is a Long Stay “Visitor” Visa. So no right to work / residency or having to declare all of your worldly wealth to the French Tax Authorities either.

The Process

  • An online form to be completed on the French Government Visa Website.
  • Arrange an appointment at a TLSconnect office in London, Manchester or Edinburgh.
  • Documentation checked and fingerprints taken at the TLS appointment.
  • Payment for the visa now made to TLS €99.
  • Your passport and application sent to the French Embassy in London for processing.
  • Your passport is then sent back to the TLS office for collection or for courier delivery.

TLSconnect are a third party used to process applications, they also offer enhanced services (at a cost), such as help with filling in the forms for £15, photo copies at 30p a sheet or The “Express Courier” service charge for £30 even though they appear to just use the Royal Mail Special Delivery by 1pm service (cost is £7.35). Also bare in mind that the London Embassy sends out to the TLS Office and then TLS send out, so collection is quicker if you need it fast. Updated with 2024 prices above

Note that the decision on your application is by the French Embassy not TLS.

Documentation Requirements

  • Passport (issued less than 10 years ago, with 2 blank ages and 3 months validation after the visa expiry)
  • 2 Passport photos
  • Declaration that you are not going to work and / or proof of your status eg. retirement / second home / funds available etc. (write & sign a letter with the details)
  • 3 months of Bank Statements / Other proof of finances
  • Proof of accommodation / rental agreement / homeowner etc.
  • Travel health insurance – valid EHIC or GHIC


TLSconnect state that the aim is to get your passport back in 15 working days, but it depends on the London Embassy ultimately. We know of a couple of applications in October 2022 that took 10 working days.

Appointments were widely available back in September for the Edinburgh Office and took around 40 minutes including the finger prints.

And if you don’t….

Overstaying could get you banned from France, fined or more – although not much evidence that this is happening anywhere in Europe with the 90/180 day rule at present. Currently scanned passports aren’t shared with all Schengen countries (scans are for watch lists, validity etc) and no auto calculations of 90 days take place – a border official would have to look at all your passport stamps and work things out…

However the much delayed EU ETIAS visa waiver system is now set to come into operation in October 2024 some 8 years after it’s approval by the EU (unless it gets put back yet again as it seems to every year). The system is similar to the US ESTA system with more or less instant approval and this will surely make overstaying immediately identifiable. All UK Passport holders will need to apply for an ETIAS at a cost of €7 for the 3 year waiver.