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Border Formalities

 
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Passports, Visas

France is part of the EU and part of the Schengen zone which includes all the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Members of the EU and Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway may enter and circulate freely in France without any visa requirements.

Nationals of the following countries do not need a visa for a short-stay (up to 90 days in a six-month period)in the Schengen zone: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Bosnia*, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Israel, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Serbia*, Seychelles, Taiwan (passport bearing identity card number), Uruguay, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Macau.
*bearers of biometric passports only

EU residents who are not part of the Schengen zone must show a passport upon entry to the Schengen zone and then may circulate freely. Nationals of the above countries have their passports stamped upon entry to the Schengen zone and then may circulate freely without passport controls to a maximum of 90 days.

What does this mean for visitors to the French Riviera? The eastern border of the French Riviera is with Monaco and Italy. There are no border controls at road or train crossings and you will not be obliged to produce your passport.

Be aware that in France you are obligated to carry a passport or identity card. The police can demand to see it if you are stopped.

For a clear discussion of Schengen zone requirements, click here.

Customs

As a traveller, you have the right to bring in goods duty-free valued at €430 if you arrive by plane or boat, €300 if arriving by road or train, €150 if under 15 years old.

Do you risk running into a customs check returning from Italy? It happens. Many French people go to Ventimiglia or San Remo to shop for clothes and liquor. There has also been a thriving market in these towns for counterfeit goods such as designer handbags, "Rolex" watches etc. Although the market is nowhere near as prevalent as it once was, customs officials are still on the watch for counterfeit products. Fines are steep.

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