For members


Do foreigners in France need to carry proof of ID?

You may have heard that you need to carry your ID card with you at all times in France - but is this actually true and what can happen if you don't have any? 

Do foreigners in France need to carry proof of ID?
ID checks can take place at any time of day. (Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM GOMIS / AFP)

Question: Is it true that if you’re a foreigner in France you need to carry ID at all times? And what can you use? I don’t like to carry my passport with me all the time in case it gets stolen.

The short answer is yes, and yes. In theory. If you don’t have any ID with you, things can get … time-consuming. And, maybe, expensive.

French citizens are all issued with (free) ID cards, which most people routinely carry with them.

Visitors and non-French citizens, meanwhile, are encouraged to have some form of ID with them at all times. No law actually requires you to have a form of ID with you at all times – but if you are subject to an identity check, the procedure will take longer if you cannot present an appropriate document.

One reason for police to stop an ordinary civilian is for a contrôle d’identité (identity check). This is when a police officer stops to check your identity. 

This can only happen under certain conditions: 

  • the officer suspects you have committed or will commit a crime; 
  • you are in an area where crime is known to occur; 
  • the public prosecutor has ordered a certain area to be subject to police checks, or; 
  • you are in control of a motorised vehicle (a contrôle routière).

If you’re driving, officers have the power to pull you over for an ID check – even if you were driving safely and within the speed limit – and a search of the vehicle may be carried out.

French police deny it – and the French state’s ‘colourblind’ policy means there is no official data – but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that ID checks are much more common for people of colour. 

Acceptable forms of identification are;

  • a passport
  • a French ID card
  • a photo driving licence;
  • a carte de séjour residency permit 

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: How to officially prove your ID and address in France

A carte vitale health card, voter card or a French birth certificate may also be acceptable.

If you are not carrying any document that could prove your identity – a good quality photocopy is usually acceptable, if you don’t want to carry the original around with you, or maybe a photo on your mobile – the officer can take you to a police station to check your identity there. 

This verification must take no longer than four hours from the first request for ID (eight hours in Mayotte, just for the record). Even so, it’s plenty long enough to put a kink in your day.

If police cannot establish your identity, or if you refuse to cooperate with police, the public prosecutor or investigating judge may authorise the taking of fingerprints and photos. Refusing to submit to fingerprinting or having a photograph taken is punishable by a fine of up to €3,750 and three months in prison.

Non-French citizens who are resident in France may also have to prove their right to residency – a passport or residence permit is acceptable, as is the confirmation of anyone with you who is either a French citizen or legally resident in France.

Equally, you may be required to prove your identity for any number of administrative reasons – which makes it easier to have some form of ID with you.

These include, for example, the following situations:

  • Examination or competition;
  • Registration at Pôle Emploi;
  • Registering on electoral rolls and voting in elections;
  • Certain banking operations (opening an account; making a payment by cheque; or making a withdrawal at the counter of your bank);
  • Picking up a parcel from the post office;
  • Rail travel in certain situations, such as if you have bought your ticket using an age-restricted rail card;
  • Air travel.

Be aware that companies such as SNCF and administrative bodies can decide for themselves which forms of ID they deem acceptable – and whether they will accept photographs or photocopies. 

If you’re travelling within the Schengen zone, you should always carry either a passport or a French ID card – although checks at Schengen borders are not common, they do happen and technically you still need a passport or ID card to travel. 

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For members


EXPLAINED: How much time can parents in France take off for sick children?

If you are working in France and your child falls ill, here is what you can expect when it comes to taking leave.

EXPLAINED: How much time can parents in France take off for sick children?

Children get sick – it’s a fact of life anywhere in the world, including France. And working parents should expect to have to take some time off work to care for them.

In general, employees who need time off to care for a sick or injured child under the age of 16 may take leave. 

Is child sick leave paid in France?

In most cases, workers will not benefit from paid leave for a sick child, but they can take part of their usual paid leave allowance, in agreement with their employer. 

That being said, your company or industry may have negotiated a collective agreement for paid child sick leave, so it will depend on where you work. 

When taking unpaid leave to care for your child, you will still be eligible for social security benefits.

The legal minimum for unpaid leave to care for a sick child is three days per year – rising to five days if the child is under a year old, or if the parent is responsible for three children or more under the age of 16. This generally covers, with the help of the family support network (aka grandparents) the usual gamut of minor childhood illnesses.

The absence must be justified to the employer by a medical certificate.

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Remember, this is just a legal minimum. Businesses in France tend to be much more flexible on parental leave to care for a sick or injured child, wherever possible – and parents may use part of their paid leave allowance, in agreement with their employer.

But, for the record, any employee on parental leave is also protected from dismissal in all but the most serious circumstances, such as gross misconduct.

What if I need more than the normal allotment? 

In cases of more serious illnesses or injury, parents of dependent children are entitled to longer parental leave – regardless of their length of service.

Employees have a right to up to 310 working days leave – a total 14 months – over any three year period. Depending on the nature of the child’s condition, this leave period can be renewed. 

This extended leave can be divided up as required, to create periods of part-time work, for example, or separated into blocks of absence to care for the child.

Are there any state benefits available when taking unpaid leave?

Workers who need this form of extended leave are not entitled to their salary while they are absent from work – but can apply for Allocation journalière de présence parentale (AJPP).

The AJPP daily allowance usually amounts to €62.44 (€31.22 per half-day) for full-time employees – and is paid for a maximum of 22 days per month over a period of three years – is intended to allow parents to care for a seriously ill, injured or disabled child. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about visiting a doctor in France

It is paid to one parent at a time over that period, and may be renewed if necessary.

In the worst case scenario, minimum legal parental leave in the case of the death of a child is 14 days for a child under 25.

If the child was over 25, the minimum legal parental leave is 12 days – unless the deceased was a parent in their own right, in which case it is extended to a minimum of 14 days.