France suspends transit ban for Brits living in EU

The French government announced on Thursday that is has temporarily lifted its ban on UK nationals travelling through France to return to their homes in the EU, to avoid large numbers of Brits being stranded in the UK after the Christmas holidays.

France suspends transit ban for Brits living in EU
Photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

France currently has strict controls in place on travel to and from the UK, banning almost all journeys. 

However the rules for Brits who live in another EU or Schengen zone country and need to transit through France in order to get home have been causing confusion, and some Brits resident in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy reporting being barred from entering France on their way home from festive breaks in the UK.

Following urgent enquiries from The Local, the French government confirmed that the rule remains in place banning transit travel by road, rail and sea – only air travel is allowed.

However it added that there would be a “period of tolerance” to allow people to return to their homes in the EU.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry told The Local: “A large number of British nationals residing in an EU country have travelled in good faith to the UK for the festive season and are experiencing difficulties in reaching their country of residence.

“Faced with this situation, instructions of tolerance have been sent to police officers at the borders with the United Kingdom, in order to allow these nationals to transit through France to reach their residence in a country of the European Union, after this Christmas and New Year period.”

It was not clear how long the period of tolerance will last for, but people who have their home in the EU are advised to have with them travel tickets showing that their date of entry to the UK is prior to December 31st 2021.

Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel suggested that Brits would only be allowed home to transit France to other EU countries if they first travelled to the UK on or before December 28th. This cut off date hasn’t been confirmed by the French government however.

The strict rules for travel between France and the UK, however, remain in place.

People can only enter France from the UK if they meet one of the criteria for essential travel – find the full list HERE. There are also restrictions on who can leave France to go to the UK – full list HERE.

Among the groups allowed entry to France from the UK are;

  • French citizens, their partners and children
  • EU citizens who have their permanent residence in France or another EU country (including Brits who have dual nationality with an EU country)
  • Non-EU citizens who have their permanent residence in France
  • Non-EU citizens who are transiting through France by air, and are spending less than 24 hours in France

The rules amount to a de-facto ban on travel by Eurotunnel, Eurostar or ferry for any Brits who live in an EU or Schengen zone country other than France.

However the rule stipulating that transfers could only be made by air had not been well understood or publicised, leading to many British residents of countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy travelling to see family in the UK over Christmas, believing that their residency status would allow them to return through France. 

Outside of the period of tolerance, the rules remain in place for all travel between France and the UK until further notice.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK

Member comments

  1. Since all categories of travellers were coming from the UK and all had been vaccinated and tested , there was clearly no public health rationale for the original discrimination or for it now only being suspended. Just politicians messing with people’s lives again for no good reason.

  2. I was hoping that Macron might have been struck by an intelligent thought and re-opened the France / UK border but sadly no ! Lives on both sides of La Manche are being interfered with purely for political reasons !

  3. It is complete and utter rubbish. Politician’s playing games with peoples lives and well being. Does Macron not realise that the stupid rule is so easy to avoid for those that really have a desire to get here for whatever reason. Fly to Barcelona, Munich, Geneva etc etc – hire a car and drive here. Who on earth is going to stop you?? Total madness.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.