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ETIAS: Will British tourists need to pay a visa waiver to enter France?

The EU has plans to introduce an ETIAS entry requirement for all holidaymakers from non-EU countries - including Brits - when they enter the Schengen area. Here's how it will work for people travelling to France.

ETIAS: Will British tourists need to pay a visa waiver to enter France?
The Eurostar terminal exit to Gare du Nord station. Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

There are two big changes afoot when it comes to travel into the EU Schengen area, including France, which will affect arrivals from the UK

Because the EU loves an acronym, both of them are known by their initials – EES and ETIAS. EES is essentially an enhanced passport check with fingerprinting – find full details of that here.

But the one that will have the biggest effect on tourists and people arriving in France for short trips is ETIAS which stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. 

In short, it will require all arrivals into the EU and Schengen zone (not Ireland) to register in advance online, at a cost of €7 (free for over 70s and under 18s).


The ETIAS requirement applies to all arrivals into the EU from a non-EU country – including the UK – who do not have a French (or other EU) visa or residency card.

It will therefore mostly apply to tourists, second-home owners or people on family visits.

At present Brits benefit from the 90-day rule, which allows people to spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU without the need for a visa.

ETIAS is technically a visa waiver, rather than a visa, but it still spells the end of entirely paperwork-free travel.


Travellers will have to fill out an online application before departure, giving their personal details such as name, age, address – if you’ve travelled to America since 2009, it’s very similar to the ESTA system required by US authorities.

Once issued, the authorisation lasts for three years, so frequent travellers do not need to complete a new application every time, but it must be renewed every three years.

The online application is set up to give a rapid response, and people would generally not need to fill it in until about 72 hours before travel, although the full details of the system are yet to be revealed.

Anyone who has not completed the online process will be denied boarding at the airport/ferry terminal/station.

How much?

Each application costs €7, but is free for under 18s and over 70s. It lasts for three years and can be used for multiple trips.


The introduction of the ETIAS system has been delayed several times and is currently scheduled for 2024, with no precise introduction date.

It will come into effect after EES is introduced – EES is currently set to be introduced some time in 2024, but the French are pushing hard for that to be after the Paris Olympics in summer 2024.

It’s therefore entirely possible that the start date of ETIAS will be pushed back again to 2025.

And the other way?

The UK has announced plans for a similar system for arrivals from EU countries – a visa waiver known as an ETA which costs £10.

Like the EU’s system, its start date has been delayed several times and it’s currently due to come into effect for citizens of Qatar from November 2023, with other nationalities added later, at a date still TBC.

These are all the EU and Schengen area countries that will require non-EU visitors provide an ETIAS visa waiver when arriving at the border: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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France’s SNCF announces October date for Christmas rail tickets sale

Mark your calendars, as French rail operators have announced that ticket sales for the Christmas holiday period will open soon.

France's SNCF announces October date for Christmas rail tickets sale

France’s national rail service, SNCF, announced on Friday that tickets for the Christmas period would go on sale starting October 4th. 

SNCF high-speed train tickets typically become available about three months in advance. As of Friday, for example, you could only book with the domestic TGV (high-speed train) service up until November 8th. 

TGV InOui (premium high-speed trains) tickets for the period of December 10th to January 9th will be available here

Intercité (classic) train tickets for the same period will be available here

Low-cost OuiGo tickets will be available for an even larger period, from December 10th to July 5th, and can be booked here

If you are unsure of which kind of train is suitable for your journey (or even just goes where you want it to go), check the SNCF website for further details on prices and itineraries. 

Eurostar tickets for the Christmas period are already on sale. 

What about the rest of the year?

If you want to book tickets from mid-January 2024 and onwards, you are going to have to wait for a little while (unless you are travelling on a OuiGo train). 

Sales for TGV InOui and Intercité services will open progressively for services between January 9th to February 9th. 

If however you want to book trains for the February school holidays, you set a reminder for November 15th, which is the date that tickets for TGV InOui and Intercité services will go on sale for the period of February 10th to March 24th.