Eurostar check-in times

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  • Chris in Makati

    I’ll be taking the Eurostar from St. Pancras to Brussels Midi on Saturday morning. This is the first time I’ve used the service. My ticket says I need to arrive 90 minutes before departure, which would make it a very early start for me as it’s an 08:55 am departure.

    Could any regular users of the Eurostar comment on how long in advance they normally arrive? The ticket also says the “ticket gate” closes 30 minutes before. I’m not sure whether immigration checks are before or after that “gate”. What time would the panel recommend I actually need to be at St. Pancras by?


    Hello Chris,

    I haven’t taken Eurostar for many years (and certainly not since it moved from Waterloo) hence my comments concern the 30 per cent capacity cut which the operator faces at St Pancras – see below. This means that longer check-in times have become necessary.

    Presumably you have booked one of the lower priced tickets ? I say that because Business Premier travellers have a shorter check-in deadline.

    Eurostar cuts St Pancras passenger numbers by 30 per cent


    Hi Chris, I travelled to Paris in December and although I could use fast track, I arrived 1 hour beforehand and non-fast track seemed fine with only a small queue. It’s worth checking how many other departures there are around the same time though as if there are 3 trains in an hour it can get busy.
    If you have a non-UK passport, it’s worth checking if this allows you to use the e-gates as the manual check queue for UK/other passports took a while.
    The ticket gate refers to the first part of the process where you scan your ticket to get through the barriers before security and immigration.


    At that time and day, I would have thought 60 mins in advance was plenty, 45 mins fine. The next Paris train isn’t until 1030, they tend to be very full so clog up check-in but the crowd for that should come a bit later. In practice, ES will comb the queue for those who are going to be leaving in the next 45 mins or so and fasttrack you through. The gate is the ticket checkin. After that comes security, then frontier controls including entry to the Schengen zone.

    I went through two weeks ago with a UK passport and the French Police, who run the Schengen control, had the gates running as well as manual checks. If you do go through the gates, you obviously must ensure that your UK passport is stamped as welll to avoid arguments on exit about how long you have been in the zone. There were big problems in the summer and Autumn, when almost all trains were nearly full (freedom to travel again!) In this case, the Schengen controls can’t really cope with the numbers and long tailbacks build up. This is what the ES CEO’s letter was about: they have had to restrict the number of departures because Schengen controls for UK citizens now take longer post-Brexit. That said, even when through the controls, the departure area is very cramped and it’s pretty unpleasant when two trains are leaving close to each other, ie. a Brussels and a Paris.

    Chris in Makati

    Thanks to all for your advice. I ended up arriving at St.Pancras at 8:05am, and reached the ticket gate at 08:10am. There were only a couple of people in the queue ahead of me and I was through security and immigration by 08:20am.

    That left plenty of time to spare before boarding the train, so it all worked out fine.

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