Security - Information for travelers to France
SECURITY IN FRANCE
What measures have been taken to ensure security in France?
The French government has strengthened security over the last year through three complementary measures:
- Strengthening of the anti-terrorism (Vigipirate) plan;
- Extending of the state of emergency currently in place;
- Stepping up protection of tourists and students.
A / Vigipirate Plan
Vigipirate is a central part of the French counterterrorism arsenal, involving all national players—the State, regional authorities, businesses and citizens—in an approach consisting of vigilance, prevention and protection. It seeks to develop a security culture, to identify the most sensitive locations, and to ensure the appropriate protection of citizens and national interests at all times.
Vigipirate has regularly been reinforced in the past few months, most recently on December 1st, by the establishment of three threat levels depicted by the following logos displayed in public areas:
- Enhanced security / Risk or attack;
- Emergency / Attack.
It is the intelligence services that perform the threat assessments. The threat level determines the measures to be implemented at major national events such as Euro 2016 and COP21, on certain key dates such as back-to-school days and end-of-year holidays, and after an attack—in France or abroad. The threat levels are key to adjusting the national protection system.
B / State of emergency
The state of emergency is a legal status that gives the Interior Ministry special prerogatives in the exceptional circumstances our country is currently experiencing. In effect throughout France, it was decreed by the President in the wake of the attacks of November 13, 2015.
At a meeting of the Council of Ministers on December 10, Prime Minister Cazeneuve announced another extension of the state of emergency until July 15, 2017.
Since it was implemented, the state of emergency has made it possible to deploy a strategy to identify and neutralize jihadist networks operating in our country or channeling fighters to combat zones. It has enabled the authorities working under the auspices of the Interior Ministry to:
- Limit traffic or temporarily close certain sites;
- Authorize police searches or order house arrests;
- Prohibit certain individuals from residing in the country.
C / Security of tourists and students
On November 7, 2016, the Prime Minister announced that 15 million euros would be allocated to boosting the security and protection of tourists:
- 10 million euros are allocated to the Inter-ministerial Fund for Crime Prevention to bolster security at tourist sites;
- 5 million euros are dedicated to the Emergency Fund for the Performing Arts to step up security at festivals.
A tourism-security coordination structure is established in each local territory (département). It brings together security authorities to regularly discuss and adopt the measures to be taken.
The rapid automated crossing system for external borders (PARAFE II) has also been strengthened. Combined with biometric authentication technology, this system makes border crossings safer and faster. 87 new stations will be installed at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport by 2020.
Finally, to guarantee the security of our students, on August 31, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem announced that financial assistance of 30 million euros are made available to universities to help them deal with security issues on their campuses.
ENTERING AND TRAVELLING WITHIN FRENCH TERRITORY
What identification is needed to enter and travel within French territory?
All foreign visitors, including European Union (EU) nationals, must carry identification (passport or national identity card). The police may require visitors to show identification at any time, including when entering or leaving national territory.
The increased security checks have little effect on waiting times in airports or stations with international lines (Thalys, Eurostar, etc.).
For non-EU nationals who require a visa in order to enter French territory, have the issuance conditions changed in recent months?
Visa issuance conditions have not changed. Waiting times have even been reduced in a certain number of countries. Visa validity periods also remain unchanged.
What public transport security measures have been taken?
Checks prior to boarding have been stepped up for flights and international rail services. Thanks to the increase in staff numbers in recent months, waiting times remain more or less unchanged.
More generally, surveillance and control measures have been introduced on public transport. The police can carry out checks on people and baggage. They also reserve the right, as an exceptional measure, to prohibit people from carrying certain personal belongings that are considered dangerous.
HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS
What security measures have been taken in French hotels?
Under French law, hotels are required to ask all foreign customers to complete an individual police form. Moreover, each establishment has the right to carry out security checks.
What security measures have been taken in restaurants, bars and clubs?
Restaurants, bars and clubs are open and operating normally. However, to guarantee the security of their customers, each establishment has the right to carry out security checks (bag inspections, frisking, etc.).
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS AND SHOPPING
What security systems are in place at museums and tourist attractions?
Public cultural institutions in Paris, Île-de-France, and France more generally have stepped up their security measures (bag inspections, frisking, refusing entry to people with large suitcases, etc.). If they feel it is necessary, the authorities may take exceptional measures regarding the conditions of access to certain institutions to ensure public security.
What security systems are in place in shops and shopping centres?
As a general rule, security has been stepped up (bag inspections, frisking, refusing entry to people with suitcases, etc.).
EVENTS, TRADE FAIRS AND EXHIBITIONS
Have specific measures been taken regarding the organization and running of public events?
Events held in public spaces are authorized. Specific security systems are in place to ensure that they run smoothly.
Has the calendar of conferences, congresses and exhibitions been changed?
For several months, event organizers and site managers have been working with representatives of the authorities to increase the security of exhibitions, trade fairs, congresses and other events that are organized and hosted. The calendar of these events has not been changed.
For more information
Please visit France.fr, the official site for tourism in France.