ICYMI some UK citizens normally resident in Belgium have, since 28 December, been prevented from returning home to Belgium from the UK by car by French authorities. This rule preventing land transit through France follows new guidance on COVID travel restrictions introduced before Christmas and issued to the French Border forces on 28 December. However, the French authorities have now issued further guidance to allow UK citizens resident in EU countries who travelled to the UK on or before 28 December to return without hinderance.
This welcome suspension to allow travel through France for UK citizens returning to their main home in an EU country during the festive period is very welcome. It follows extensive representations to the French authorities by the UK Embassies in France and Belgium and the Belgian authorities.
However, this is a temporary measure and UK citizens are still largely banned from going to France unless they have a compelling reason and return car transit through France for a journey to the UK starting today would not be possible.
The French interior ministry has issued a ‘tolerance instruction’ to facilitate the transit of British nationals through France to reach their residence in an EU country during the end of the year celebrations.
The rules and regulation can always be found on the website of the French Ministry of the Interior.
The current regulations, introduced as part of measures to combat a surge in COVID cases in France, cover travel to France from the UK, which is classified as a COVID red zone. Travel is only authorised for:
- European (EU) nationals returning to their main residence in France or located in another EU country
- Nationals of a third countries holding a long-stay visa or a valid residence permit having their main residence in France
In addition, France has added UK citizens who reside regularly in France and are exempt from a residence permit under the Brexit withdrawal agreement, but can provide proof of residence.
However, British citizens who reside in another EU country, as nationals of a third country, are not covered by this measure and, therefore, cannot transit through France to another EU country while the COVID restrictions are in place.
As many UK citizens residing in an EU country travelled to the UK for the Christmas/ New Year holidays before the new guidance was issued and now would face unexpected difficulties in returning home, the French have issued tolerance instructions to their border forces.
Happy New Year everyone!