France reverses ban on British drivers in transit

Britons living in the EU were not allowed to travel to UK through Eurotunnel

Cars and trucks queue at the UK entrance of the Eurotunnel on December 17 before increased restrictions for travel to France from Britain. Reuters

France on Thursday said it would show "tolerance" for British travellers hoping to transit the country to reach homes elsewhere in the European Union, after a surprise clampdown caused dismay for thousands of travellers.

Under tougher Covid rules that began to be applied this week, non-resident Britons were no longer able drive through France -- only those with a primary French residence will be allowed in.

Many Britons take the Channel Tunnel to France, using Eurotunnel's Shuttle service, to drive from the UK to their homes in other EU countries.

But under new travel guidance that was applied from December 28 by French authorities, only Britons whose official primary residence is in France are being allowed in.

Eurotunnel connects the UK and France and serves as a main conduit to mainland Europe, linking Folkestone in England and Coquelles, near Calais.

An “urgent” update by Eurotunnel confirmed on Wednesday that the French government had tightened its policy. "Unless they hold French residency, British citizens are now considered third country citizens and can no longer transit France by road to reach their country of residence in the EU," Eurotunnel said.

French travel guidance says “nationals of the European Union or equivalent", as well as 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.

Eurotunnel said the ban did not apply to British people living in France, or people from the UK who also hold an EU passport through dual nationality. But it did apply to British citizens living outside France in the EU.

Before Eurotunnel's announcement, there had been some confusion among British people based in the EU about the rules.

Updated: December 30th 2021, 5:45 PM