I have a United States passport and will be in London this year. I am looking into rail and ferry options to coastal France and was wondering if I will need to present any documents other than having my passport at hand? For example is there a customs office I'm required to visit or can I just simply walk into France with my passport?

  • 3
    so you're not taking your own boat, just using the ones available to you - eg EuroStar or various Ferry companies?
    – Mark Mayo
    Oct 1 '13 at 6:08
  • 3
    Note that passport/immigration checks and customs are two different issues. The UK is not part of Schengen and maintains its own visa policy but it is, as a member of the EU, part of the single market which means that there are very little restrictions on what you can import or export to and from France and, in principle, no systematic customs inspection. The situation is pretty much the reverse for Switzerland (Switzerland is part of the Schengen area and does not systematically check passports at the border but does maintain a distinct policy regarding goods import/export).
    – Relaxed
    Oct 1 '13 at 15:52
  • You will have two immigration controls outward and two more on return. They will come to you, no special building; it's unlikely you will even see a customs agent.
    – Gayot Fow
    Feb 1 '16 at 19:50

I can answer the rail part: When boarding your train at London, you'll have to pass through customs and security check just as if you were taking a plane.

The platform of the Eurostar train is separated from the other platforms and the only way to get onto it is through the security check and customs.


The UK is not part of Schengen. A UK visa doesn't entitle you access to the Schengen area automatically.

According to this page, however US citizens can enter the Schengen area without a visa, that is given some conditions. The basic requirement is a valid passport. If you want to have multiple entries or want to stay longer then 90 days, you need to contact the French consulate.


There will be entry immigration and customs for france. If you are travelling on commercial transport you should encounter those controls automatically. In some cases the controls are juxtaposed (that is you will be checked by french immigration before exiting the UK).

Having never been rich enough to own a private sea going boat I have no idea what the procedures are like for them.

The UK does not have exit immigration per-se but commercial transport providers are now required to provide details of exiting passengers to the government.

Whether you need a visa, work permit or simlar depends on why you are visiting and for how long. Regardless you should carry evidence of the purpose and duration of your visit.

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