The Jersey Minister for Home Affairs, Deputy Helen Miles, announced via press release on Tuesday that French nationals visiting the island will no longer need to present a valid passport to visit for a day trip – as had been the rule since the end of the Brexit transition period.
Instead, French visitors will be able to travel on commercial ferries using just a national ID card in a pilot scheme set to begin at the start of the summer tourist season.
Since Brexit, the UK has required all EU visitors to show a passport, rather than a national ID card as was the rule before. This includes the Channel islands, since they are UK crown dependencies.
In her press release, Miles explained that since Brexit, all EU nationals have been required to show a passport to enter Jersey when visiting from outside the common travel area.
“The current process has proven difficult for many French nationals, who may not possess passports and instead rely on ID cards. This has led to a significant decline in the day trip traffic to the Island”, Miles said.
“We are grateful to our partners in the UK and in Normandy for their help and engagement, and to the Minister for External Relations and his department for their support. It is important that we are all working together to enable French residents to visit our beautiful Island and give them the flexibility they need to do so.
Miles added that: “Arrangements will be made to make sure robust measures are in place to ensure the security of the border is maintained.”
Travel between Jersey and the UK does not require a passport, although photo ID may be required.
The Jersey government said that ID cards would only be accepted for people on a day trip who have a return ticket booked, and is being trialled only on the Manche Islands and Condor ferry routes from France, not for passengers on airlines or smaller boats.
The statement from Jersey said that this rule would apply only to “French nationals”, not other EU passport holders taking a trip from France to Jersey, and the government later clarified that it would apply only to French citizens who hold a valid and in-date ID card.
The suspension of the passport requirement is not final – the scheme is “a provisional test” – it will be used to inform a more permanent decision to be made in September.
READ MORE: From ferries to Eurostar: How Brexit has hit travel between France and the UK
Miles’ statement comes just a few weeks after the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France, Jean Morin, asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.
Jean Morin told Ouest France previously that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.
Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU.
“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin.
READ MORE: France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers
Morin threatened that local authorities would stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service, that if a solution was not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023.
In response to the new scheme to suspend passport requirements, Morin told Actu.Fr that “this gives us hope that crossings to Jersey will be relaunched next season. Our wish is to return to financial equilibrium”.
Morin added that he would like to see a similar measure brought on by local authorities in Guernsey, the neighbouring Channel island, as soon as possible.