I am a French national residing in the U.K. with my non-EU husband. He is here on an EEA Family Permit, and will apply for the residency card when it expires (but U.K. website even says the residency card isn't technically required--odd!). We want to travel to France for 3 days. Does he need a visa? The issues underlying my question are two-fold: 1) it's a permit, not the Article 10 residence card (but holds the same weight) and 2) because I'm French and we'd be going to France, is there visa exemption when traveling to my home country? I emailed the French embassy but I think they are misinformed as they said family members of French citizens aren't covered under Directive 2004/38, which conflicts with a recent court case cited in another thread.

At this point there's no time to apply for a visa in time for our trip, so I almost want to wing it! The EEA family permit doesn't say I am French, it just says : "EEA family member to join MY NAME" I've read anecdotal accounts online with similar situations who said their spouse was not required to have a visa. It almost sounds like it depends on border control.

Thoughts/advice? Thanks!!

This information is from the French consulate FAQ page:

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3 Answers 3


UPDATE: After extensive online research and some anecdotal accounts of border control allowing holders of EEA Family Permits to enter France visa-free, we decided to try our luck. My husband was allowed to travel by plane with his EEA FP from the UK to France, and had no issue with border control at either end. We did not get the sense authorities were very informed/concerned - they just glanced at the EEA FP and stamped his passport. I don't know if this is standard practice or we were just lucky, but thought it was worth informing anyone in a similar situation.

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    Interesting. Since his passport was stamped, the border guard cannot have thought the family permit was an Article 10 card (because holders of those cards are exempt from stamping) -- and in that case the rules seem to require that he be issued a visa for free at the border. Perhaps the border guard decided on his own account that it would be a waste of time to issue an actual visa sticker, since he doesn't need the visa to back his right to be in the Area (which derives directly from his status as an accompanying family member). Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:54
  • @HenningMakholm good point about the stamp. This at least confirms the assertion in my answer that the EEA family permit does not count as an Article 10 card! :-) If I recall correctly, someone posted a "question" a couple of months ago that described a similar visit to (IIRC) the Netherlands, wherein the traveler was issued an actual visa at the border by the (IIRC) Dutch authorities. The "question" was of course closed because it was just a report with no actual question. I now wish I had encouraged the user to post a question to which her anecdote could have been posted as an answer.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 21:27

No, your spouse can only travel visa free with an Article 10 residence card. The EEA family permit is similar to an Article 10 card, but for the purpose of visa-free travel, only the Article 10 residence card will do.

You may be able to apply for the visa at the border, though, if you are not flying to France, but you might have trouble. The process of getting a visa for the spouse of a French citizen is more difficult, not less, than for spouses of citizens of other EU countries.

Your husband should be able to benefit from the simpler EU procedure described in directive 2004/38/EC, because you reside in another EU country. This follows from the Surinder Singh judgment, but I don't see any evidence that the French government has implemented this judgment, so I would not count on it if I were you.

  • @Kim you can post that as an answer and accept it. I suspect that you were just lucky. The rules say that they're supposed to issue a visa at the border, so maybe they just decided that they couldn't be bothered. It's also possible that the French have relaxed that requirement under national law, but it could lead to a problematic situation (not likely, but possible) in which some local official (perhaps elsewhere in Schengen) wants to see the visa that the Schengen codes say your husband can be required to have, when he doesn't have it.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:02
  • Interesting. Its crazy how mind boggling this all is, and I'm studying international law! Curious which rule exactly states that he's supposed to be issued a visa at the border? We're planning future travel so all information is helpful. I've read on other boards that you can even travel with an expired EEA FP. But its so hard to know what's true/what is practiced in reality. Thanks!
    – Kim
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:15
  • @Kim to be precise, Schengen rules specify that Schengen countries are allowed to require him to have a visa. So France could in theory do away with that requirement, but what if he wanted to cross into Belgium and they still had the requirement? Anyway, I don't think France has actually done away with the requirement, but I don't know. The visa requirement is in Art. 5 (2) of the directive linked in the body of the answer, and the provision to issue it at the border is in Art. 5 (4), though I remember it being more explicit about "issue a visa at the border" than it is.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:50
  • @phoog: I was sure that was the case too (that is, that member states can waive the visa requirement in this situation), but now I can't find any authority for that in either 2004/38 or the Borders or Visa Codes. They are, as far as I can see, supposed to issue a visa at the border, not just wave him through. Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 20:04
  • @HenningMakholm It seems to me that Art 5 (2) places limitations on when 3d-country family can be required to have a visa, but does not actually impose a requirement.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 20:10

There's lots of confusion because people just don't understand what they are talking about.
If you ask about travel to some Schengen countries visa free you will receive different answers about different requirements because it is not a visa free travel.

EEA family permit actually is a visa. It is not a Schengen visa because not all EEA countries are in Schengen zone.
It is a visa for all EEA countries if you travel with your family member or you travel alone to join your family member who already is in that country. Bear in mind that EEA family permit is not processed by the UK border law, but European laws and officers.
You even have this information when you fill the application for it. For example there's information that if you are unmarried partner and you can prove durable relationship EEA family permit is for free.

If you can't prove durable relationship your application fall down into UK fiance visa and you have to pay the fee and it will be processed by UK law and clearance officers.

So that's what exactly happen in your case. At the France border control you show them EEA visa and they treat it as a visa of multiple entry what is clearly stated on the sticker.

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    An EEA Family Permit is a visa for the UK, not other EEA countries. You're talking about the Family mermber residence Card, which is not a visa
    – Crazydre
    Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 1:10

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