PARAFE: How Does the Fast Border Crossing Work?

To the point State authorities, in collaboration with Paris Aéroport and various airport groups across the country, are working to implement PARAFE, a system designed to speed up border controls. But how does it work in practice?

To make the airport experience more pleasant for everyone, the French government has been helping to set up the PARAFE system for nearly a decade now, enabling travelers to cross borders independently, with simplified identity checks. Thanks to a decree published in 2010, it has been possible to automate entry and exit procedures at railway stations and airports. Making border controls smoother and reducing waiting times.

What is PARAFE?

Based on biometric authentication technology, the PARAFE rapid external border crossing system uses facial recognition to allow travelers to pass through automated border formalities when entering or leaving the Schengen area. Optional and free of charge, it is reserved for European citizens and third-country nationals holding a biometric passport.

PARAFE is based on data contained in the traveler’s passport, as well as information verified by the device’s camera. This data includes surname, first name, date of birth, nationality, a digital image of the face, the type and number of the travel document, as well as the three-letter code of the country of issue and the document’s validity date.

It is important to stress that border guards are the only recipients of this confidential information. Passengers’ personal data is only stored until the airlock doors are opened. Once the border has been crossed, this data is immediately deleted from the PARAFE system.


Who Can Use PARAFE?

Unlike priority queues, which are generally offered exclusively to frequent travellers or status holders, or to NEXUS and Global Entry program. The PARAFE system is available to all adult holders of a valid biometric passport who are nationals of a European Union country or any other eligible country. Eligible countries include Canada, South Korea, Israel, New Zealand and the UK, which can also use the system on arrival in or departure from France.

Nationals of countries such as Benin, Cameroon and Morocco can also use the system, but only when leaving France for a country outside the Schengen area. They cannot use it when they arrive in the country.

For a list of all eligible countries, visit the French Ministry of the Interior website.

Minors aged 12 and over can also use PARAFE, but only when entering the country. You must be aged 18 or over to use this program to leave France.


How Does the PARAFE System Work?

No need to register to obtain PARAFE. Anyone eligible to use PARAFE can choose to use the system. Once you arrive at the airport or train station, simply follow the PARAFE signs to locate the automated PARAFE lock and follow the steps below:

  1. Present yourself alone at the PARAFE airlock entrance.
  2. Remove glasses, scarf, hat and mask.
  3. Place your passport on the reader, on the photo page.
  4. Enter the airlock after the passport reading validation display.
  5. Look at the camera and follow the instructions on the screen.
  6. Exit the airlock when the airlock doors open.

Please note that it is not compulsory to go through the PARAFE system. Passengers can choose to be screened manually by a border guard.

The PARAFE airlock works by interrogating several essential databases. Firstly, the system consults the Schengen Information System (SIS), which contains information on persons wanted in the Schengen area. It then checks Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database for fraud. Lastly, the PARAFE airlock interrogates the FPR (fichier des personnes recherchées – file of wanted persons) to guarantee border security.

As a traveler, you have the right to access your personal data and request any necessary corrections. You also have the right to object to the processing of your data, as well as to demand the restriction of such processing.

If you have any questions about the processing of your data in the PARAFE system, please send an e-mail to

Where is PARAFE Available?

PARAFE is a French system which, over the years, has been gradually deployed at numerous border crossings across France. It is available not only at airports, but also at certain railway stations and the port of Calais. In France, you can use it at the following airports:

  • Roissy-Charles de Gaulle
  • Orly
  • Basel-Mulhouse
  • Bordeaux
  • Lyon
  • Marseille
  • Nice

The system can also be used at the following stations:

  • Gare du Nord (Eurostar)
  • London St Pancras station (Eurostar)
  • Coquelles terminal in France (Eurotunnel)
  • Folkestone terminal in the United Kingdom (Eurotunnel)

Bottom Line

The PARAFE system represents a major step forward in simplifying border controls for travellers. Combining technology and safety, it enables smooth, rapid passage, providing a pleasant, hassle-free travel experience. So the next time you fly to your favorite destination or take the train for a getaway, don’t forget to check out the PARAFE options available at your airport or train station.

Frequently Asked Questions About the PARAFE

How does PARAFE work?

Decree no. 2010-1274 of October 25, 2010 authorized the creation of an automated personal data processing system called PARAFE. It enables travelers to pass through border formalities automatically, thanks to biometric authentication technology.

How can we speed up border controls at France's airports?

You can speed up border controls by using the PARAFE system, which requires no prior registration. Simply follow the PARAFE signs at stations and airports in the country where the system is deployed, and present a valid biometric passport at the airlock entrance.

Do I need a passport to use the PARAFE system?

Yes, you must hold a valid biometric passport and be a national of a European Union country or any other eligible country.

Is the PARAFE system available at Orly and Roissy airports?

Yes, the PARAFE system is available at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, as well as at Basel-Mulhouse, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Nice airports. It is also available at certain stations and at the port of Calais.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

Suggested Reading