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My fiancée who is an American citizen is travelling to visit me in France. Since I am not an American citizen and am from South Asia, working in France, I have no experience in advising her or searching for "what documentation is necessary" for her to travel to Europe.

I only know from Wikipedia's entry on visa requirements for US citizens, visaHQ's drop down menus and one of the French consulate's website that she is entitled to visa-free travel to France (among a bunch of other countries). I also find that she does not need ESTA.

However, since I have always been subject to visa rules wherever I have travelled, I just wanted to be doubly sure that she was in the clear to travel to Europe/France with ONLY a US passport.

Does she need any other method of authorization or travel document or other recommended documents? What should she carry with her in form of documentation? She is planning on staying here for 3 weeks (~23 days) so I am sure she doesn't need a long stay visa.

Additional questions

  • Would my fiancée need travel specific health insurance similar to it being required for South Asians travelling to Europe for tourism?
  • What about a certificate of finances? She has minimal finances so would it be ok for me to provide her with my bank statement as I would be doing the "spending"?
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In principle, she needs more-or-less the same things than someone who is required to get a visa, namely a valid purpose (and documentation to that effect including, for example, an invitation from you), a certain amount of money for the duration of the stay and the means to leave the Schengen area or return to her country of residence/origin (which means either a return ticket or money to buy one).

In practice, US citizens typically are not asked to provide all that. Border guards should scan her ID/look her up in some databases, put an entry stamp in the passport and that's it. The thing they are most likely to check is whether she has a return ticket. It's not mandatory but would be particularly useful to avoid further questioning.

The finances are extremely unlikely to come up if she looks like a typical visitor coming for a couple of weeks. But, formally, having sufficient “means of subsistence” is a requirement, even for US citizens (in France, the reference amount is EUR 65 per day). Note that merely holding a credit card could be enough to satisfy this requirement.

I thought travel insurance was required as well but re-reading the relevant regulations (article 5 of the Schengen Borders Code), it does not seem to be. Never heard of anybody being asked about it in any case (but that's not very strong evidence either way).

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+1 for the E65/day reference document. –  drN Jul 15 at 7:18
    
Will a self attested certificate of finances with my bank account details as an attachment do for "means of subsistence"? –  drN Jul 15 at 7:54
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@drN I guess it would but like I said it's all pretty theoretical. I know many people who had to apply for a visa or deal with visa issues regularly but I have never met anyone who was asked about finances when entering without visa. I don't think you need to worry. –  Relaxed Jul 15 at 9:07
    
Thank you for the assurance. Such doubts arise in my mind since I always had to produce a "certificate of finances" or some such when I applied for a US F1 visa, a Canadian visitors visa and it was a recommended document for a Schengen D/Scientific visa. So, I thought there's no harm being too careful! :) –  drN Jul 15 at 10:32
    
@drN Yes, it's the same for people who need to apply for a visa beforehand and consulates do require it. At the border itself, the checks are much more superficial. –  Relaxed Jul 15 at 10:36

In general US Citizens are given very free entry to France and other Schengen countries. As you've discovered, no visa is required, and generally there is little to no details requested at the border.

Most of my entries into France consists of something like me saying "Hello" and handing over my passport, the immigration official maybe giving a grunt in response to my greeting, looking at my passport, stamping it, and giving it back to me. (I'm Australia, but the process is basically the same for US citizens).

However technically there are a few things she is required to have. Ideally she will have a return ticket. Technically this isn't a requirement, but the policy is that "Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry", and this would be especially true if she stated that she's coming to visit her fiance on the grounds that they may think that she's likely to overstay.

She will also technically need to hold sufficient funds for her stay. It's unlikely that they would ask for this information unless it was asked, but having a copy of your bank statements with her certainly wouldn't hurt, even thought it's unlikely it would be required. The fact she's staying with you will also reduce the required funds due to the lack of need for a hotel.

As far as health insurance, it's not required - but it's always a good idea. Presuming she has health insurance in the US this probably covers her in Europe, but you'd need to check the policy to be sure.

As with all border crossings, there's no way that anyone can ever say exactly what happens. If the border officials believe that she's planning to live in the US, or doing anything else outside of what is allowed under the 90-day visa free period then they always have the ability to refuse her entry and send her back to the US on the next plane - but the odds of that happening are extremely small.

As always, the best plan is to offer no information unless asked. Be pleasant without going overboard. And answer all questions truthfully if/when asked, again without giving much more information than is required. Odds are they'll presume she's just yet another American tourist come to visit the Louvre and La Tour Eiffel, and let her on her way with little more than a grunt.

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Where does the “Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry” come from? –  Relaxed Jul 15 at 6:45
    
@Relaxed direct quote from Timtatic. –  Doc Jul 15 at 6:57
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AFAIK, it's not a policy, certainly not one that would be mentioned in official sources. –  Relaxed Jul 15 at 7:00
    
@Doc: Relaxed is right here. The Schengen border code has no requirement, that people entering Schengen must have a return or onward ticket. –  Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 15 at 11:19
    
Hmm, never was asked about funds. I guess because I always told them I was on business, which is true. –  staticx Jul 15 at 13:39

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