Is the Channel Tunnel (the railway tunnel linking Great Britain and France) dug under the seabed considered international waters, or is it always under UK or French territorial waters?

EDIT: as some people noticed this question is probably not very travel-related. If modersators want to close it, please do it. The reason for the question is US Tax law related, and probably I'm better off asking in MoneyExchange.SE, I guess.

  • 8
    How is this travel related?
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 19:28
  • 18
    @JonathanReez How else are you to know whether you have to obey the French police while you're on the train? ;) Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 20:24
  • 1
    @JonathanReez I think this should be on Politics.SE.
    – gparyani
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 19:56
  • 1
    How is the jurisdictional status of the channel tunnel related to US tax law? Surely nobody spends enough time in the tunnel for it to matter.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 16:23
  • 1
    The Channel Tunnel is not in any water at all - it is under the seabed :-)
    – Nick
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


The inside of the tunnel isn't in anybody's waters, and the two nations have established an agreement on such matters, the Protocol concerning frontier controls and policing, cooperation in criminal justice, public safety and mutual assistance relating to the Channel fixed link. It provides for each state to exercise jurisdiction in "control zones" on each other's territory (e.g. border control areas). The frontier itself is set at the mid-point of the tunnel by the Treaty of Canterbury (the 1986 one, the 1416 was about an alliance against France).

Within the tunnel itself, Article 38 of the Protocol says that each state has jurisdiction on its territory, including the parts of the tunnels on their side of the border, but provides for either state to have jurisdiction in a number of cases, such as where nobody is sure where an offense happened, and gives priority to whichever state catches someone first.

The frontier is marked inside the service tunnel.

As for the waters above the tunnel, this map indicates the narrow area of the Strait of Dover lies entirely within either UK or French territorial waters.

  • 19
    As a sidenote, the British/French TV series The Tunnel is a crime drama about a serial killer who leaves bodies on the tunnel's mid-point. It's an adaptation of the Danish/Swedish series The Bridge, where the body is left in the middle of the Øresund Bridge. Similar adaptations were done for the US-Mexico border and the Estonia-Russia border. Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 19:10
  • 13
    That is border line bad Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 22:40
  • 8
    What side of the road do they drive on inside the service tunnel? That would depend on what rules-of-the-road apply, and thus French or English law, right?
    – Dai
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 23:48
  • 5
    @Dai that's why the centerline was removed there. It is where you crossover. Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 0:45
  • 3
    @Dai, the service tunnel isn't a public right-of-way, so you drive on the side of the road that Eurotunnel tells you to drive on.
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 0:01

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