Can I drive through France? Rules for UK nationals with homes in EU explained after new travel update

The rule change will affect those who planned drive home to their EU residence (Photo: Getty Images)The rule change will affect those who planned drive home to their EU residence (Photo: Getty Images)
The rule change will affect those who planned drive home to their EU residence (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

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The UK government is seeking urgent clarification after France banned UK nationals from travelling by car across the country to homes in the EU

All UK nationals have been banned from travelling by car across France to get to homes in other European Union states.

The rule change will affect those who planned to avoid air travel to return to their EU residence after spending Christmas with family and friends in the UK.

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Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, which operates vehicle-carrying trains between Folkestone and Calais through the Channel Tunnel, said the decision was made by the French government on Tuesday (28 December).

It advised passengers to visit the website of the French embassy in the UK, although its travel information has not been updated since 20 December.

What are the rules for travelling to France?

Non-essential travel from the UK to France has been banned since 18 December as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Under the rule change, France now only allows travel from the UK for “compelling reasons”.

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This means that only those who can prove that they have an essential reason for travel will be allowed to enter France, regardless of their Covid-19 vaccination status.

However, several exemptions have been in place to allow French citizens and permanent residents and their immediate family, or those on essential business, to cross the Channel.

French travel guidance said that “nationals of the European Union or equivalent”, along with their partners and children, “who have their main residence in France or who join, in transit through France, their main residence in a country of the European Union” are considered to have a compelling reason for travelling from the UK through France.

British citizens who have a residence in another EU country will be required to show proof of their residence, such as a residency permit, tax forms or utility bills.

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Have these rules been changed?

Getlink, the operator of the Channel rail link, issued an urgent travel warning on its website and Twitter page on Wednesday evening (29 December) which appeared to confirm a change to travel rules by the French government.

The statement said: “Following a French Government decision, on 28/12/2021, 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.”

Confusingly, the French government is yet to make an official announcement about the change, but the Eurotunnel statement said the ban does not apply to British people living in France, or people from the UK that also hold an EU passport through dual nationality.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has now updated its travel advice for France to state: “The French government have indicated that UK nationals travelling from the UK who are not resident in France will not be permitted to transit France to return to their country of residence unless they are travelling by air.

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“We are urgently seeking further clarification from the French government, and in the meantime advise UK nationals returning to other European countries via France to check with their carrier before travelling.”

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