France is the world’s most popular tourist destination — receiving a staggering 89 million visitors in 2018. It’s the largest country in the European Union, with a varied landscape including tall peaks and sandy beaches. World-renowned gastronomy, a rich history, outstanding museums and inspiring monuments are just some of the reasons to visit France.
However, it’s important to know that the European Union is about to introduce a new e-visa system, much like the ESTA for the USA and the e-TA for Canada. If you have an upcoming trip or are planning to travel to Europe soon, you can find out more information and apply for an ETIAS on Byevisa’s website.
In the meantime, let’s have a look at who needs this document, how to get it, and which other countries you can travel to with an ETIAS. Additionally, discover some of the best things to do in France.
What is an ETIAS?
ETIAS means ‘European Travel Information and Authorization System’. It’s a new system that will be introduced in 2022 and will become mandatory in 2023. It’s a visa-waiver document that gives you access to the whole of the Schengen zone.
Many of the countries that could previously visit the European Union for up to 3 months without needing a visa, including Singapore, the USA and the UK, will now need to apply for an ETIAS before traveling. The good news is that it’s quick and easy to get this document. That way, it wouldn’t affect your travel plans or be a reason not to visit France.
The system is designed to better monitor who is coming in and out of the Schengen zone while keeping it easy for tourists to visit. In fact, tourism is a very important part of the European economy, and a large number of countries are reliant on a prosperous tourism industry, including France.
How Do I Get an ETIAS?
As I mentioned, it’s very simple to get an ETIAS. The whole process can be done online in less than 10 minutes. All you need to do is fill out a form with your passport and personal details and answer some security questions, mostly relating to criminal activities. Once you have submitted your application, your details will be cross-referenced against the EU’s security databases and in most cases will be approved within a couple of days.
A copy of the ETIAS will be sent to your email. Fortunately, though, your waiver will also be electronically linked to your passport, so when you go through border checks and they scan your passport, they will be able to see you have an ETIAS.
A great thing about the ETIAS is that it’s valid for three years and during this time you can enter the Schengen zone for up to 90 days in any 180 day period. Therefore, you can return several times to Europe without needing to get a new document each time.
Many nationalities that could previously visit France without a visa, will now need to get an ETIAS before they travel. So it’s important to be aware of which policies apply to your nationality, or you may get caught out once the document becomes mandatory in 2023.
Here’s the list of countries whose citizens will need to get an ETIAS visa waiver:
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Federated States of Micronesia
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
If you don’t see your nationality on this list and you live outside of Europe, you will probably need to get a Schengen zone visa instead.
On the other hand, if you’re a national of one of the countries from the Schengen zone, you won’t need any kind of authorization to visit France and other countries of the European Union which are part of the agreement
Who Needs to Get a Schengen Visa?
Here’s the list of countries whose citizens need to get a visa before travelling:
Central African Republic
Northern Mariana Islands
Papua New Guinea
Sao Tome and Principe
How to Obtain A Schengen Visa for France
If you do need a visa, you will need to go to your nearest embassy or consulate in person to apply. To apply, you will need to provide the following documents:
- A completed application form
- Two recent passport-size pictures
- Return flights/ onward travel confirmation
- Travel insurance
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of funds to cover your trip
- Travel itinerary
The visa currently costs €80 (or €45 for children).
If you are looking to go to France for a purpose different from tourism, like to work or study, then you will need to apply for the relevant visa and provide the additional documents required.
Once approved, the visa allows you to stay in the Schengen zone for up to three months in any six month period. The standard visa granted to tourists is single entry, therefore you will need to get a new visa every time you enter the Schengen zone.
What is the Schengen zone?
The Schengen agreement was signed in 1985 and eliminated border checks to allow more freedom of movement and facilitate trade. There are currently 26 countries that make up the area and four more are due to join in the near future (Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania). See the full list of 26 Schengen countries below, in our ‘Where Else Can You Go with an ETIAS?’ section.Citizens of a Schengen country can travel around freely from one country to another without even showing their passport. Around 1.7 million people in the EU commute to another country for work daily, which wouldn’t be possible without the Schengen agreement.
From a traveler’s perspective, the establishment of the Schengen zone has made it much easier to visit Europe. Often visitors come to Europe to see multiple countries, especially when they are coming from far away. With this in mind, not having to waste precious holiday time at border controls is a huge advantage. Land borders like roads and railways can take you from one country to the next as if you weren’t crossing a border at all!
What to Bring with You when It’s Time to Travel
If you are part of the visa waiver program, you need to have an approved ETIAS. If you like, you can print a copy of your ETIAS, just in case. However, it’s not necessary as the ETIAS is electronically linked to your passport. Therefore, the number one thing you need to have with you is a valid passport with at least one blank page for the entry and exit stamps.
Also, you may be asked to show supporting documents such as return flights, possession of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay, accommodation bookings, and travel insurance. This is down to the discretion of the border authorities. As such, it’s a good idea to have all this information in hand when you are entering the Schengen zone.
If you need a visa to visit, it will be attached directly to a page in your passport when your application is processed. So, just like the ETIAS, you will need to bring your passport as well as all the documents mentioned above.
Is France a Muslim-friendly Travel Destination?
The short answer is a clear ‘yes’. It’s a great destination for Muslim travelers with a rich Islamic heritage and cultural influence.
In fact, Islam is the second-largest religion in France and Muslims make up around 5% of the country’s population. A large number of immigrants from Africa have settled here.
There are around 2,300 mosques throughout the country with more being built every year. Moreover, halal cuisine can be found in most cities and towns — you won’t need to worry about getting hungry.
If you would like to visit some of the most impressive Mosques in France, I would recommend these three:
- The Grand Mosque in Paris
Built in 1922 in Moorish style, this large mosque has a beautiful garden with fountains in its courtyard.
- Omar Ibn Al Khattab Mosque in Paris
A more cozy and lesser-known mosque in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, with beautiful carpets and a large library.
- The Grand Mosque in Lyon
Built in a modern minimalist style, with large windows making it very light and airy. Here they teach the principles of Islam as well as the Arabic language.
Top Halal Foodie Destinations in France
France’s capital city has over 100 halal restaurants to choose from largely due to the fact that it has the largest Muslim population of any European city.
Top-rated Halal restaurants in Paris:
- Le Confidentiel
- 1000 & 1 Signes
- Le Baili Restaurant
Thanks to its 20 Michelin star restaurants, Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of the world and it has held this title since 1835. As such, it’s easy to find great halal options in the city.
Top-rated Halal restaurants in Lyon:
- Cuisine en Ville
- Indian Cantine
- Le Palais des Tajines
A stop in the idyllic French Riviera is a must for any trip to France, and Nice is the best place along this coastline to enjoy some tasty halal cuisine.
Top-rated Halal restaurants in Nice:
- Le Bedouin – Chez Michel
- Royal Kashmir
- La Goulette
Nestled between France and Germany, Strasbourg is a fascinating city to visit for its unique cultural blend. It’s home to several important European organizations and its pretty city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are several great halal restaurants in the city where you can take a break from sightseeing.
Top-rated Halal restaurants in Strasburg:
- Le Jasmin
- L’ile aux fleurs
- Habibi Strasbourg
Where Else Can You Go With an ETIAS?
As I mentioned above, your ETIAS will be valid for the whole of the Schengen zone and not just France. Therefore, you might want to consider adding on more destinations to your trip, like neighboring Germany, Spain or Italy.
To get the full picture of the doors this document opens, here are the 26 countries you can visit with an ETIAS:
And since it’s valid for 3 years, you can make the most of this waiver by taking several trips to Europe to explore the culture, history and sights of different countries.
Other Muslim-friendly Destinations You Can Visit With an ETIAS
Europe as a whole is generally a very Muslim-friendly place to travel. Additionally, Halal food is mostly available in all major cities. Here are some recommendations of destinations to visit after you have seen everything you want to see in France.
- Cordoba, Spain
The south of Spain has a rich Muslim heritage and Cordoba was an Islamic state between 929 and 1031 under the Umayyad dynasty. The spectacular Mosque in the city is a symbol of its Islamic past. There are also guided tours from an Islamic perspective available.
- Lisbon, Portugal
The capital of Portugal is packed with impressive monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s easy to fall in love with this city full of character and charm with its cobbled streets, old trams, and lively squares.
Malta is an island in the Mediterranean between Italy and Africa. Its beautiful beaches make it a great destination for a summer holiday. Plus, it has a fascinating culture to boot. It also has a rich history and a noticeable Arabic influence.
- Budapest, Hungary
The capital of Hungary boasts some incredible architecture and several impressive historical sites such as Buda Castle and the State Opera House. Taking a boat ride along the Danube at night to admire the city all lit up is a magical experience. It’s also a very budget-friendly destination.
- Berlin, Germany
Berlin is another very multicultural city with a lot to offer. Endless historical monuments, exceptional museums and quirky cafes are just some of the reasons to visit.
- Amsterdam, Holland
Amsterdam is known for being friendly, diverse and open-minded. It’s a picturesque city marked by traditional colorful houses and peaceful canals. The city itself is like a museum full of surprises — get ready to spend at least one day just walking around its waterways.
So with this information, you now know everything you need to know about the EU’s upcoming ETIAS visa waiver for your next visit to France or elsewhere in Europe! Have a memorable trip!