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France travel restrictions: Can I take the Eurotunnel from the UK?

A train comes out of the Eurotunnel
A train comes out of the Eurotunnel   -   Copyright  AFP
By Nichola Daunton

It’s been a confusing week for Brits trying to return to their homes on the continent via France. On Wednesday 29 December, Eurotunnel announced that UK citizens trying to return to their EU residencies would be unable to travel through France.

“Unless they hold French residency, British citizens are now considered 3rd country citizens and can no longer transit France by road to reach their country of residence in the EU,” said a Eurotunnel spokesperson.

The rule was confirmed by the French Interior Ministry the following day (Thursday 30) but luckily for Brits, an important caveat was added. “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.”

French police officers at the UK border have been told to be tolerant, and allow UK nationals to travel through the country to reach their homes in the EU.

On this basis, French police officers at the UK border have been told to be tolerant, and allow UK nationals to travel through the country to reach their homes in the EU.

So what does this mean if you’re currently visiting the UK and want to drive back home via the Eurotunnel?

Can I take the Eurotunnel to France today?

While the French government states that Brits can travel through France to return to their EU homes after the holiday period, this only applies in certain circumstances.

According to a statement on the Eurotunnel website, “Passengers travelling from the UK, with residency permits for other EU countries under the Withdrawal Agreement, can now transit through France to return to their homes.”

However, this only applies to those who completed their journey to the UK before 28 December 2021. This rule is designed to restrict travel only to those who went to the UK for the festive period, and not those who wish to travel for other reasons.

Can I go on holiday in France?

Anyone travelling to France from the UK must have a compelling reason to do so. This move effectively bans UK tourists from visiting France for the foreseeable future. As yet, the French government has not revealed when the restrictions will be lifted.

The French tourism industry is calling on President Emmanual Macron to ease the rules for UK citizens though, as the travel ban comes at the height of the winter ski season.

The current restrictions come amid rocketing COVID-19 cases in France, with the country recording over 200,000 new cases on the first day of 2022.

However, as of today (3 January), fully vaccinated people in France will only have to isolate for seven days and can leave isolation after five days, if they test negative.