French nationals could be able to visit Jersey for up to three days using their national identity cards if the UK government approves the move in a key meeting early next year, it has been reported.
After Jersey Ministers attended an annual political summit with Normandy and La Manche representatives in Guernsey last week, French media reported that Home Affairs' Deputy Helen Miles had confirmed the current ID card scheme would be extended into 2024, and that an extension to 72-hour stays will be discussed in London in January 2024.
Deputy Miles confirmed the extension yesterday afternoon. She said it had followed “a significant increase” in day trips being made from France to Jersey since the launch of the pilot programme in April.
However, when Express asked about the possibility of a 72-hour limit reported by French media, Government officials said: "The scheme is being extended until September 2024 under the same conditions as before (day trips only). We remain in ongoing discussions over the future of the scheme, but no other changes have been agreed at this time. Any further changes would need to be discussed with the UK."
The ID card 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 Channel Islands 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 – French nationals are allowed to use their identity card to visit Jersey on a day-return trip. Since its launch, hospitality leaders have called for it to allow for overnight stays.
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.
Pictured: The ID card scheme came into effect 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.”
Pictured: Deputy Montfort Tadier is president of the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie Jersey Branch.
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.”
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