Identity card day-trip travel for French people extended

French tourists arrive in Jersey without passports for the first time. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (35655845)

A SCHEME allowing French people to visit the Island on day trips using their national identity cards has been extended to the end of next summer, the Home Affairs Minister has announced.

Deputy Helen Miles said the decision was made following “a significant increase” in day trips being made from France to Jersey since the launch of the pilot programme in April.

The initiative, initially due to conclude this year, was introduced to combat a marked drop in the number of French visitors following Brexit, after which anyone entering the Island from France was required to show a passport.

Last year, External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf said the number of visitors from the country had dropped off a “cliff edge” as a result, noting that only about 50% of French nationals owned passports.

However, under the scheme – which will now be in operation until 30 September 2024 – they are allowed to use their identity card to visit Jersey on a day-return trip.

Deputy Miles said: “We have seen a significant increase in day trips from France to Jersey since the launch of the scheme in April 2023.

“Our aim is not only to boost our local economy and ferry operators but also to foster our cultural and historical connections with France.”

In April, Deputy Miles revealed that the initiative was the product of lengthy conversations with the UK government, involving Deputy Ozouf, an external relations team in London, as well as a UK-based Common Travel Area team in “daily contact” with Jersey Customs and Immigration.

Deputy Montfort Tadier – president of the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie Jersey Branch – described this week’s news as “positive”.

“It is reassuring to know that we have the flexibility to make this type of decision,” he added.

“If we show that we have the ability to control our borders and know who is coming in and out, that may offer some reassurances to the UK authorities.”

In a statement, the government yesterday said that all passengers arriving in Jersey were subject to “robust immigration controls”.

They added: “Jersey Customs and Immigration Service has ensured that safeguards are in place with the ferry companies to account for all travellers, recognising the importance of protecting the integrity of the border as a member of the Common Travel Area.

“It’s important to note that while this scheme is in place for French nationals, all other travellers are required to use a valid passport for travel.”