A string of hoax bomb threats has seen France on high alert, the EU’s visa-waiver scheme is delayed yet again, and our visa and healthcare experts are back by popular demand for another free webinar. Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. How security alerts affect travel to France
We announced in last week’s News Digest how France has been placed on the highest possible terror alert level after a fatal Islamist attack on a school teacher. The raising of the alert level has allowed additional police and soldiers to be deployed to areas of concern, and the past week has seen an alarming number of bomb alerts and evacuations.
More than 70 bomb threats were investigated at airports across France, leading to more than 130 cancelled flights and the evacuation of several major airports. Thankfully, they all turned out to be hoaxes, and police have now traced the majority of the threats to a Swiss email address. Threats have also seen closures of tourist attractions such as The Louvre and Versailles Palace, the latter of which has been subject to seven evacuations over the past week.
While all of this can seem deeply concerning for those living in or travelling to France, it’s important to note that, so far, none of these bomb threats have resulted in real threats, and no countries have issued warnings about travel to France. However, if you are travelling to France this week, leave extra time for increased security measures and potential queues. With the half-term Toussaint holidays starting yesterday (Monday, October 23rd) and huge crowds expected for the France Rugby World Cup finals, which take place this Saturday (October 28th) at the Stade de France in St Denis, Paris, police will be taking no chances when it comes to security.
In related news, as the Israel-Hamas war continues, French President Emmanuel Macron is in Tel Aviv today for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For the latest on the Israel-Hamas war, you can follow the live coverage over at The Guardian here.
2. EU’s ETIAS visa-waiver program pushed back to 2025
After initially announcing the long-await Etias visa-waiver system would come into use in 2023 and then pushing it back until 2024, the EU Commission has now confirmed that it won’t, in fact, come into operation until “mid-2025”. This is good news for those travelling to France from countries that don’t require a Schengen visa – there will be no further paperwork or expenses required over the next year, although you will, of course, still be subject to the 90/180-day rule.
The introduction of a second travel system, the Entry/Exit System or EES, which will introduce automatic checks on passports entering/exiting the Schengen area, has also been pushed back. The proposed date for this system is now “the second half of 2024”, with expectations that this will come into action after the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics.
Read our article What Changes for Travel to France in 2024/25: EES, ETIAS, €7 Visa fees? for more details.
3. Do you have questions about visas, residency or health insurance?
Back by popular demand for our next FrenchEntrée webinar, I will once again be joined by Richard Hammond, founder of French Connections HCB, and Fabien Pelissier, founder of Fab French Insurance, for a deep dive into the complex world of French visas! These two have a wealth of knowledge on French visa and residency applications, having helped thousands of British, American, and applicants from all around the world, so it’s a great opportunity to hear directly from the experts.
If you want a taster, check out our previous webinar with Richard and Fabien (and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re there so you can follow our weekly Q&A videos and stream all of our past webinars for free!). This time, we’ll be answering even more of your questions, and you can send them to me in advance at [email protected] or pop them in the Q&A box during the live webinar.
There’s only one thing left to do, and that’s sign up for the free webinar on Thursday 16th November at 2pm (London time) or 3pm (French time) which you can do here or click the button below.
I look forward to seeing you all there!
P.S. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back!
The clocks go back in accordance with daylight savings this Sunday, 29th October, at 3am, therefore making it 2am. Most phones and computers will update automatically, but it’s always worth double-checking!
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