Do French Citizens Need a Visa to Travel to America?

A blue car from the 50s parked at an American diner with an American style meal of hamburger, fries and a coke set on a tray hanging from the open window

The allure of the United States as a travel destination is undeniable. From the bustling streets of New York City to the majestic grandeur of the Grand Canyon, the US offers an incredible array of experiences to travelers. French citizens, like many international travelers, may be enamored with the thought of exploring the diverse landscapes and cultural richness of America. Whether it’s to experience the sights and sounds of jazz in New Orleans or to soak in the creative atmosphere of San Francisco, understanding the visa requirements is a crucial part of planning your American holiday.

No doubt, as a French citizen, you may be wondering, “Do I need a visa to travel to America?” The good news is that France is one of the countries that is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows for a more streamlined entry into the United States.

Understanding the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA

Under the Visa Waiver Program, French citizens can obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) instead of a traditional visa for tourism, business, or transit purposes. The ESTA grants you the ability to visit the US for up to 90 days without the need for a visa. It’s important to note, however, that an ESTA is not just a formality. Rather, it is a required travel authorization that must be obtained prior to boarding your flight or sea vessel to the US.

How to Apply for an ESTA as a French Citizen

For French citizens, applying for an ESTA is a straightforward process. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Fill out our easy-to-use online application form. The application takes about 10 minutes. Make sure to have your passport handy.
  2. Submit & Pay for your application. We accept all payment types. PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay & Credit Card.
  3. Get your ESTA emailed to you within 72hrs. We’ll email you your approved travel authorization and that’s it, you’re ready to go!

If you need your ESTA in a hurry, you can choose from our two expedited processing options. Simply select your add-on at checkout.

It is also important to note that while an ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first, each stay in the US should not exceed 90 days. Also, obtaining an ESTA does not guarantee entry into the US, as final entry is determined by Customs and Border Protection officers at the point of entry.

Eligibility for an ESTA

When planning your travel, ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for the ESTA:

  • You are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country, such as France.
  • Your travel to the US is for 90 days or less.
  • Your purpose for travel is tourism, business, or transit.
  • You have a return or onward ticket (if you’re traveling by air or sea).
  • Your passport is an e-passport with a digital chip containing biometric information.

If your travel plans do not fit within these parameters or if your ESTA application is not approved, you will need to apply for a visa appropriate to the nature and duration of your stay.

FAQs for French Citizens Traveling to the US with an ESTA

Do I need an ESTA if I’m only transiting through the US?

Yes, even if you’re only passing through the US en route to another country, you will still require an ESTA for transit purposes.

Can I extend my stay beyond 90 days with an ESTA?

No, the ESTA does not allow for extensions beyond the 90-day limit. If you wish to stay longer, you would need to apply for a different type of visa.

What should I do if my ESTA application is denied?

If your ESTA application is not approved, you’ll need to apply for a visa to travel to the US. Remember that an ESTA denial doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ineligible for a US visa.

Is the ESTA valid for multiple entries?

Yes, you can enter and leave the US multiple times within the validity period of your ESTA, provided each stay does not exceed 90 days.


French citizens have the privilege of traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, making short-term visits for tourism, business, or transit more accessible. Remember to apply for your ESTA well in advance of your trip to ensure a smooth travel experience. Safe travels, and enjoy your American adventure!

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