An explosion in Covid cases, in particular the Omicron variant, on both sides of the Channel saw France impose strict controls on travel to and from the UK, banning almost all forms of travel. But confusion had been rising over measures for Brits who reside in the EU and need to make their way home through France to return home after Christmas. It meant some Brits residing in the likes of Belgium, Spain and Italy had reported been banned from entering France when returning home.
The French Government has confirmed the rule remains on place banning transit travel by road, rail and sea – with only air travel allowed.
But it made clear there will now be a “period of tolerance” to enable those people to return from the UK to their homes in the EU.
A spokesman for the French Interior Ministry told The Local, a French news outlet that publishes content in English: “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.“
Over the past 24, confusion over alleged new rules blocking Britons from reaching France via the Eurotunnel had threatened to spark another diplomatic row between the two countries.
The Government had been looking for urgent clarification after France banned UK nationals from travelling by car across the country to homes in other European Union states.
On Wednesday evening Eurotunnel, which operates vehicle-carrying trains between Folkestone and Calais through the Channel Tunnel, issued an “urgent update for British residents in the EU” on its website and Twitter page.
The statement read: “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.”
On December 18, Emmanuel Macron’s Government unveiled several new rules on travel from the UK following a surge in the Omicron variant in Britain.
The latest travel guidance from France states: “If you are of French nationality but you have your main residence in the United Kingdom, you are allowed, as well as your spouse (married, civil partnership, cohabiting partner) and your children (see supporting documents on 1.), to travel to the United Kingdom.
“You must be able to prove your main residence in the United Kingdom (title deed, lease, water, gas, electricity, internet bills, etc).
“If you are of British nationality,you are allowed, as well as your spouse (married, civil partnership, cohabiting partner) and your children (see supporting documents in 1.), to travel to the United Kingdom, without guarantee of return to French territory, unless there is a compelling reason.”
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office 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.
“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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