Now that I’ve actually been to France and back on the Eurostar with my rifle I thought I’d let you know how it goes just in case you’re considering doing the same yourself. Overall, I went there and back with little difficulty, and I will almost certainly do it again. You need to give yourself perhaps an extra 45 minutes for check-in at both ends. Here’s how it goes:
_ At St Pancras International, go to the EuroDespatch Centre. There are signs that say “Registered baggage” I think, but the door is opposite the coach park at the back of the station, in the same direction as the lost luggage and public toilets.
_ When you walk in, one of the staff will immediately ask you if it’s a shotgun, from the shape of the case. He means “firearms” but that doesn’t matter to them, the process is the same, they need to call someone from customs over from the Eurostar check-in hall. They will not touch it before HMRC arrives.
_ At this point you just hang around, unable to answer your wife’s repeated question about how long this will take. This is awkward if the baby is agitated. HMRC are adamant that the paperwork is more important than your baby. Everyone else disagrees. There is no possible compromise.
_ On the way out, the customs guy turned up after about 25 minutes. He made notes of all the details of my FAC, EFP and checked the rifle’s serial number. I’d also put my knife on the case, which he said French customs may have a problem with. I found this unlikely frankly, and indeed, it wasn’t the case. This is quite laborious as the process consists of the chap copying everything on a piece of notepaper by hand. You are also required to engage in friendly banter whilst being scowled at fiercely by your other half. Again, this is uncomfortable.
_ After that, you lock up the case, they hand you a receipt, you pay them £30 and you’re off to check in.
_ At Gare du Nord, the baggage company’s office is called “Geoparts”. It’s all the way down the end of the last platform on the right as you exit the train. Follow signs to “Baggages consignés”. Again, it’s opposite the coach park. Here, you just hand them your receipt, they give you the case, and that’s it.
On the way back, it’s the same. You go to Geoparts, they call Pierre from customs, but while you wait, they make photocopies and fill out all the parts of the forms that don’t require customs, which is really quite helpful compared to what happens at the UK end. As a result, when Pierre turns up, he’s done quite quickly. Again, you hand them €34, they hand you a receipt. More friendly banter about hunting.
Here’s the only really annoying part of the process though: when you come back to the UK and go to pick the rifle up from the EuroDespatch office, they go through the whole damned process again! I queried this with the customs guy, who was to his credit apologetic about it and admitted that it was completely ridiculous. He even tried to be as fast as he could be as he could spot the issue with Young Pine Marten. But still, that part really is an unnecessary delay.
All the details here if you want them: http://www.eurostar.com/sites/defaul...gage_flyer.pdf
Hope someone finds that helpful!