AIRPORT TRANSFER FACTS - LEGAL OR NOT?
SOME POINTERS TO LOOK FOR...
If you like a good read, this page is for you!
The content is short on pretty pictures but high on IMPORTANT information
Contrary to popular opinion the French are not obstructive awkward people, but in many cases are striving to protect their nationality, their countryside and their way of life.........
As the number of legitimate, properly registered businesses in the tourist areas of France increases so, unfortunately, does the number of "Brit and Eastern-European Cowboy operations". These people contribute nothing to the local economy, pay no taxes either in their home country or in France, and very often work illegally.
In the transfer market there are many operators who take paying passengers in France and Switzerland (possibly for cheaper rates, possibly not) having no valid passenger carrying licence and no valid passenger carrying insurance. They sometimes have a national fare paying passengers licence from their country of origin, but this is only valid in the issuing country as it is issued by a local authority.
They might have French insurance on a French registered vehicle, but as they are working under the cover of a non-existant licence, as is usual in insurance claims relating to "dodgy operations", their insurance cover is not valid! The real "cowboy" doesn't even bother to try to give a veneer of legality, he drives a dodgy non-French registered vehicle, has no proper insurance and no proper licence and charges a fraction of the price of legitimate transfer operators..........
As far as we can ascertain (European law is just so convoluted, as we all well know) these two types of licence, above and below, are the only ones that are valid in France for transfers in VEHICLES UP TO 9 SEATS....YOU MUST LOOK FOR ONE OF THESE IN YOUR TRANSFER VEHICLE!!
These licences now are even subject to forgery - just download the blank template from the French government site, copy or make up some numbers, plug in your colour printer and away you go!!! (*As of this summer the French government now supplies the windscreen stickers so bits of colour printed paper should be viewed with suspicion)
The Community (as in European) Licence is being used and abused by over one hundred Latvian, Lithuanian, Czech, Polish and British vehicles observed last season in our "sector" alone,...(Tarentaise)
It is a licence for vehicles with more than 9 seats, specifically "large" minibuses, small coaches and coaches!! It CANNOT BE USED for smaller vehicles nor can a sticker in any language other than French!!
Contrary to what many will try to tell you a French licence is the ONLY licence that gives the right to operate transfers in France when the operator is based in France during the winter season! Installation in France for five months of the winter season for the purpose of working every day is ILLEGAL. The "We are all part of the EU and have the right to work under the rules of "cabotage" in member states" statement is just NOT TRUE! In absolute terms, cabotage (under a foreign/non-French licence) is only valid for a maximum of three "jobs" in France before the driver must return to the country of origin of the licence (Latvia, Lithuania, Britain etc.)..... A brief extract from the French language regulations "- (fixant à un maximum de trois le nombre d'opérations de cabotage autorisées dans les sept jours suivant un trajet international vers le pays d'accueil du cabotage).
- Comme en matière de cabotage pour les transports de marchandises, le cabotage des voyageurs est effectué à titre temporaire."
This is clear as regards the "Community licence" as well - it was put in place for tour operations using large minibuses, small and large coaches..."une licence communautaire, délivrée par les autorités compétentes de l'État membre d'établissement aux entreprises de transport pour compte d'autrui de voyageurs sur autocar et autobus."
The full text in French from the European Parliament is here
So, we have a problem and you have a problem...
Our Battle -
We live in France, are a French company and so are linked to the "French system" - As is the case almost everywhere our costs do nothing but increase every year - vehicle costs, fuel costs, wages etc.. We are subject to all too frequent controls by the French Gendarmes and are the only people to be controlled!! They do not want the bother and language difficulties involved in dealing with Baltic/East Europe/British drivers...So these people continue their illegal activities whilst offering you cheaper transfers than us as they can afford to do so - We cannot!! We are all slowly but surely being driven out of business!!
Your Battle -
You are looking for the best deal...We understand!! The "clandestines" offer much cheaper prices and as the Pound Sterling has "fallen off the edge of a cliff" it seems a no brainer (everybody loves a good deal, us included)... We, unfortunately cannot compete with that, we have a business to run and have to live, we cannot subsidise the currency consequences of Brexit - sorry!
So, it will probably be OK for your cheap illegal transfer as the Gendarmes ignore the illegal drivers - let's just hope that you are not the first victims of an accident involving such people - no insurance, fees, litigation - All that just to save a few pounds??
You "struggle" through your departure airport. Some of you might even be stressed by flying. You arrive at your destination airport. You "struggle" through your destination airport. Your transfer service picks you up, you set off on the road to your eagerly awaited holiday in the Alps. At the Swiss/French border, or on any public road in France, your transport is stopped by the French Customs Service and/or the Gendarmerie (spot checks are becoming increasingly frequent). They inspect the paperwork of your driver. There is a problem! He is not registered, does not have the correct passenger carrying licence, does not have the correct insurance. How much further do you think you will be going towards your holiday destination with this person?
We think you know the answer..........
We are a French registered company, legal French residents, pay our taxes in France, support the local economy and are French licensed*
Geneva Airport - Use of the "French Side" should sound alarm bells!!!.....
It is important that you understand that there are two access methods for this airport - the "Swiss side" and the "French Side". In virtually every case of transfers offered by legitimate French registered transfer operators the Swiss side is the preferred area for both collection and drop-off of passengers.
It is a bigger area (the French side has only a handful of car parking places), easier to work in and offers quick access to the Swiss autoroute system. Until the arrival of the Schengen system there was a significant amount of traffic through the French side as many "Eastern Europeans" were refused visas to transit through Switzerland.
Since Schengen is in place the use of the French side has diminished to virtually zero for passengers.
Access to the Swiss side of the airport for collection of passengers is regulated by the Swiss authorities and requires an "Autorisation de prise en Charge" ("Loading Licence"). This authorisation can only be obtained from the Swiss on presentation of a valid French transport licence and with valid insurance cover. Every driver is vetted and must have the appropriate qualifications for the job!!
When booking a transfer from Geneva airport be sure to check (preferably before paying) the collection / rendez-vous point for your transfer.
If it is from the French side be sure to ask "Why?"
As far as we are able to ascertain, as of 01/01/2014, the Swiss "autorisation" will be free of charge to licensed operators whereas previously it has cost 400CHF per vehicle operating through the"Swiss side" So, if the company you are dealing with says they do not want to pay the charge it is no longer a valid argument... Ask them if they have an "autorisation de prise en charge", if they say "no" ask them why not....
Country of registration of your transfer vehicle....
For the most part (obviously there are exceptions) transfer operators in France use French registered vehicles. There are companies that will use UK registered vehicles (some are even right hand drive, not too professional and definitely not as safe, in our opinion, when driving on the right hand side of the road - but not illegal) and we would advise you to check that they do have the appropriate licence.
Worse still, the Eastern European registered vehicles (mostly Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic and Germany) if your transfer is in such a vehicle and if you are asked to present yourselves at the "French Side" for collection.....Warning!!
At SkyToSki we value your custom and your safety and honour our legal obligations. We hope that you choose to travel with us but, even if you don't, please make sure that you are travelling with a legitimate, properly registered and insured company that will not leave you stranded by the roadside should a roadside check take place or, in the worst case, uninsured should you be involved in an accident.......
Let us help you to have a fun, carefree holiday!!
* Ministère chargé des Transports (French Transport Ministry) Licence N° 2011/82/0002329 Rhône Alpes