France - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, currency, transportation, language health, local time, business hours, and holidays, temporary entry of materials or personal belongings

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Business Customs The most important characteristic of French business behavior is its emphasis on courtesy and a certain formality.  Appointment schedules and hierarchical titles are to be respected and correspondence, whether by mail or by fax, should be acknowledged promptly.  A handshake is customary upon initiating and closing a business meeting, accompanied by an appropriate greeting.  Professional attire is expected.  Today, many French executives put less emphasis on long, heavy business lunches for reasons of health and time.  Nevertheless, informal business discussions in restaurants where everyone appreciates a good meal are one of the best ways to promote good working relations.
  Travel Advisory Since November 2018, France has suffered from significant public demonstrations from the Yellow Vest protesters that has affected travelers plans, primarily over the weekend.  In Paris, these demonstrations have affected metro lines, suburban commuter lines and has led to street closures where protesters congregate.  Travelers should visit the State Department Travel Website for the latest information.
  Visa Requirements U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following links.


Telecommunications Telecommunications to and from Paris compare favorably with those of any large U.S. city.  A direct-dial telephone system links France to the United States and most of the world.  Calls to the United States may be charged to international telephone cards such as AT&T, MCI, and Sprint. The contact for AT&T Direct U.S. operator is: +33 1 41 88 46 00   Transportation Frequent direct air service is available to many U.S. and French cities.  The two airports serving Paris, Charles De Gaulle Roissy, and Orly, are easily accessible by excellent bus (Air France) and rail service.  The French railway system is among the best in the world; its efficient network ties in conveniently with public transportation in most French cities.
Buses and the Metro (subway) may be crowded during rush hours, but they provide fast and efficient service; however, a word to the wise: as in many large cities worldwide, one should be alert to the dangers of pickpockets while in public places.
  Language While French is the official language in France, many business people speak English.  Product literature, correspondence, and negotiations in the French language provide a distinct advantage over competitors who use only English.  It should be noted that other EU suppliers are accustomed to dealing in the French language.
  Health American Hospital in Paris
63, boulevard Victor Hugo
92200 Neuilly sur Seine
Tel: +33
American Hospital in Paris
(24-hour English-speaking medical and dental emergency service; credit cards accepted.)
Emergency Medical Team and Ambulance (SAMU)
Tel: 15 or +33
  Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays The working days abutting the French holidays and vacation periods are not prime time for business meetings; this includes the month of August and the several vacation periods between Christmas and Easter.  Business hours in France are generally 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (banking hours 9:00- 5:00) Monday through Friday, while stores are generally open 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.  To ensure availability, advance appointments are recommended.
Holidays 2019:
January 1, 2019                   New Year’s Day
April 22, 2019                     Easter Monday
May 1, 2019                         Labor Day
May 8, 2019                         Veterans’ Day (WWII)
May 30, 2019                       Ascension Day
June 10, 2019                      Whit Monday
July 14, 2019                        French National Day
August 15, 2019  Assumption Day
November 1, 2019             All Saints’ Day
November 11, 2019           Veterans’ Day (WWI)
December 25, 2019           Christmas
Holidays 2020:
January 1, 2020                   New Year’s Day
April 13, 2020                     Easter Monday
May 1, 2020                         Labor Day
May 8, 2020                         Veterans’ Day (WWII)
May 21, 2020                       Ascension Day
June 1, 2020                         Whit Monday
July 14, 2020                        French National Day
August 15, 2020  Assumption Day
November 1, 2020             All Saints’ Day
November 11, 2020           Veterans’ Day (WWI)
December 25, 2020           Christmas
  Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings Every U.S. citizen entering France must present a valid American passport; for stays of less than three months, there is no requirement for visas, entry permits or health certificates.
Bonafide personal effects in a visitor’s luggage (or hand-carried) are not normally subject to customs duties.  Items to be declared, however, including those intended to be left in France, goods for professional/commercial use as well as any prohibited items.  Goods imported for exhibition may enter under bond, deposit or an ATA carnet.
Professional equipment may be temporarily imported into France free of duty and tax under the Customs Convention on Temporary Importation of Professional Equipment; the appropriate carnet may be obtained from the U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce.
  Web Resources

Commercial Service of the U.S. Embassy Paris