They Took Our Passports!? Sailing & French Polynesia Visas
Last we left you, we traveled to the French Embassy in Quito to relinquish our passports and apply for our Long Stay French Polynesia Visas.
What did you think about Jason’s art work? It was a touch Jackson Pollock which might do well in a blind auction. And yes, if you watched all the way to the end, you got the spoiler alert! But more on that later. 😉
Here’s a quick recap of the details we covered in the video plus all those extra tips I promised.
As citizens of the USA we would be granted a 90 day visa upon arrival. Which may sound like a lot but it’s not. The sailing journey to French Polynesia is a 4,000 nautical mile sail that will take us between 20 and 30 days to get there.
There are 118 islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 1,200 miles in the South Pacific Ocean. We’re going to need more than 90 days to do it any justice.
Which is where those Long Stay Visas come in.
EU peeps are exempt from a visa and can stick around for well…I think as long as they want (but don’t quote me on that). For the rest of us, we need a visa. Depending on the country you are from, and which French Embassy you will be applying at, the requirements and time frame can vary a ton (also rules and regulations change all the time). Oddly enough, we read the USA embassies are the most difficult requiring all applications to be submitted in French and English along with a police report. My #1 tip: Contact the French Embassy you plan to apply at and ask for the current application form and requirements! Even from Panama to Ecuador the requirements were slightly different. Don’t assume anything, even if you read it on your favorite blog. 🙂
Here is a list of everything we submitted. We had two copies of everything as requested by the embassy. We were told by those before us the more organized we could be, and the more supporting info we supplied, the better our chances were for being approved.
- Cover Letter stating why we wanted a 1 year visa (nothing fancy, super basic).
- Application – My #2 Tip: Make sure to request longer than you intend to stay (always better to have more time and not use it, than not to have enough). The application asks for expected date of arrival. We guessed at our arrival date, but built in buffer room for earlier/later arrival should our plans change. We are required to arrive within 90 days of the date we list on the application, but no earlier than requested.
- 2 “Passport” size photos (they have specific size, style, hair/glasses/hat restrictions, even lighting rules that you must comply with). So make sure you are very specific when you have your photos taken and printed.
- Original Passports
- Copy of Passports including all visa stamps (We also printed an extra copy of the photo page and the Ecuador Entry stamp/Visa to keep in our wallet. This proved to be a brilliant idea as we ended up needing this info multiple times while our passport was on ‘holiday’).
- 6 months of bank statements to prove you have money in the bank.
- A letter stating we would not seek employment during our visit (nothing fancy, super basic).
- Proof of Health Insurance – My #3 Tip: It has to be valid for the entire year you require the visa. We read your long stay visa will end when your health insurance expires.
- Copies of Yellow Fever Vaccine (because we had been in Panama which is listed as a risk)
- Vessel documentation
- Proof of Vessel Insurance
- Crew List
- Sail Plan that includes the islands you wish to visit and a vague timeframe. We just made something up, it doesn’t have to be perfect, they just want to know you’re moving through the islands.
We filled out the online request for an appointment. We instantly received email confirmation with time and date. We arrived at the embassy and well, you know the rest.
Fast forward…The French Embassy in Ecuador took 6 weeks to hear back on the status of our passports and long stay visa. At that, I sent weekly emails starting at week 4 to get a response. They never did call us by WhatsApp like they said they would. So, who knows how long it would have taken to know our passports were back otherwise. My #4 Tip: make sure to follow up, nicely but firmly, and again don’t assume anything.
This is just the first step. We still have more work to do when we arrive in French Polynesia. But we can’t tell you about that until we get there and experience it ourselves. Stay tuned!
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