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UPDATE: Can I travel from the UK to Spain through France despite the new restrictions?

France is bringing in tough new restrictions on arrivals from the UK over fears of the so-called Indian variant of Covid - 19, but what about people who just want to pass through France on their way to Spain?

UPDATE: Can I travel from the UK to Spain through France despite the new restrictions?
Photo: Ander Gillena/AFP

Question: I am planning to drive to Spain from the UK and obviously that involves going through France – do the new French travel rules apply to me if I am only passing through?

From Monday, May 31st, France is tightening up entry requirements for arrivals from the UK, following in the footsteps of Germany and Austria as European countries become increasingly concerned about circulation of the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid in the UK.

The new travel rules have three parts;

Travellers need a vital reason to enter France. You can find the full list of vital reasons HERE but the criteria are strict and require documentary proof. Travel to second homes and to visit family and friends is not accepted as a vital reason. This rule does not apply to French citizens, citizens of another EU country or people who have their permanent residence in France.

Travellers must show a negative Covid test at the border taken within the previous 48 hours (a change from the 72 hour requirement). This can be either a PCR or an antigen test. This applies to everyone, including French and EU citizens and permanent residents of France.

Travellers must self-isolate for seven days on arrival, although there will be no police checks to enforce this. This applies to everyone including French and EU citizens and residents.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about the new Spain-UK travel rules

So what’s the situation if you are just passing through?

If you are returning to your permanent residence in another EU or Schengen zone country then you can travel, as one of the listed ‘vital reasons’ is returning home. You will, however, need to show some proof of your residency, ideally a residency card.

If you are travelling for another reason you can travel through France, provided you spend less than 24 hours in the country.

The testing requirement applies to all arrivals, even if you are only passing through France, but if you spend less than 24 hours in the country you are not required to quarantine.

You will also need to check the rules in your destination country on arrivals from France. If you are entering France from an EU or Schengen zone country you will need to show a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours and this must be a PCR test. You can enter France for any reason from an EU/Schengen country.

And yes, these rules all apply even to the fully vaccinated.

To find out more about the restrictions and requirements for driving between Spain and the UK click here

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EXPLAINED: Spain’s free long-distance buses in 2023 and how to get tickets

The Spanish government has announced that many long-distance buses will go from being half-price to free in 2023. Here's everything you need to know, from the 42 lines which will be free to how to apply for the tickets.

EXPLAINED: Spain's free long-distance buses in 2023 and how to get tickets

Passengers who travel on long-distance buses will be able to benefit from free tickets throughout 2023, Spain’s Transport and Mobility Raquel Sánchez confirmed on Tuesday. 

Tickets for some bus routes already have a 50 percent discount for frequent passengers, a measure which came into force on September 1st, 2022.

The scheme was originally supposed to run until the end of December but has now been extended throughout 2023 with the addition of many tickets being completely free.

This is similar to what Spain is currently offering on certain multi-journey train tickets, which frequent passengers have also been able to benefit from since September 2022.

READ ALSO:

The idea is to help people in Spain deal with the rise in the cost of living and also save on fuel. 

Which routes will be free?

While all long-distance bus routes won’t be free, the Ministry of Transport and Mobility has said that it will apply to buses that it pays for.

These routes have stops in 2,399 neighbourhoods, spread over 1,837 municipalities throughout the country.

The list of Spain’s free long-distance buses in 2023 is as follows:

Huesca – Lleida
Barcelona–Huesca
Madrid – Segovia 
Madrid – Salamanca – Vigo
Tamarite de Litera (Huesca) – Lleida
Madrid – Fuente del Arco – Monasterio – Badalona
Teruel – Barcelona
Zaragoza – Caspe – Tarragona – Castellón de la Plana
Fraga – Binéfar – Mequinenza (Huesca) – Lleida
Madrid – Miajadas – Don Benito
Madrid – Jaraíz de la Vera
Madrid – Zaorejas (Guadalajara) –Sigüenza (Guadalajara)
Madrid – Casas Ibáñez – Las Lagunas de Ruidera
Madrid – Piedrabuena – Casas Ibáñez – Las Lagunas de Ruidera
Madrid – Jaén
Madrid – Toledo
Logroño – Soria – Madrid 
Madrid–Toledo
Murcia – Cartagena – Granada – Málaga -Seville – Córdoba 
Murcia–Valencia
Viella and Lleida
Lleida – Zaragoza- Molina de Aragón
Irún – Tuy
Madrid–Alicante
Burgos – Poza de la Sal – Frías – Briviesca – Padrones – Logroño
Madrid – Granada – Almunecar
Madrid – Zaragoza – Barcelona
Santander – Bilbao – Barcelona 
Alicante – Murcia
Salamanca – León – Santander
Seville – Málaga – Montgat – Manresa
Irun – Madrid
Santiago de Compostela – Gijón – Irún – Barcelona
Madrid – León – Gijón
Seville – Salamanca – Irún
Ferrol (A Coruña) – Algeciras (Cádiz)
Murcia – Almería
Madrid–Guadalajara
Soria – Zaragoza
Madrid – Almería
Almería – Cartagena 
Alicante – Cartagena – Murcia

How to claim free tickets

To benefit from this offer, you will have to purchase multi-journey tickets of 10, 20 or 30 journeys (those that were already subsidised) and provide a deposit of €20.  

This deposit was already necessary for medium and long-distance Cercanías and Rodalies train services and will be returned if you use a certain amount of journeys – a total of 16 in three months on the trains.  

It’s not yet clear how many journeys you will have to make during 2023 in order to get the deposit back.  

Saving 350 million litres of fuel 

The minister has revealed that this could mean a saving of more than 350 million litres of petrol, which could prevent the emission of one million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere during 2023.  

The Ministry has also calculated that a family of four will save on average between €1,800 and €3,000 per year if they take advantage of these free journeys.  

It must be noted, however, that to fully subsidise the bus lines, there will be a hefty cost to the government. In 2021 the cost of maintaining these lines was €158 ​​million.  

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