How to Apply for an EU Free Interrail Pass for your 18th Birthday [Updated]

My very first travelling experience was interrailing through Europe in 2015, it was an amazing trip that started my passion for travelling so I was delighted to hear about a new initiative by the EU that would help young people explore Europe by offering them a free interrail pass.

If you’re not familiar with #freeinterrail, it is a new European Union scheme offering a free interrail pass for EU citizens or those legally residing within the EU for their 18th birthday, the scheme is aptly named #freeinterrail.

The scheme is launching in 2018 to those born in the year 2000, you will need to be 18 on 1st July 2018 in order to apply. The scheme will continue as a pilot with 30,000 recipients each year until 2020, however it is part of a wider EU proposal that could eventually see all 18 year olds receive this incredible opportunity.

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What is interrail?

An interrail ticket (also known as an interrail pass) allows free rail travel within participating EU countries.

There are two types of pass including a global pass which allows unlimited rail travel within the 30 participating countries and a one-country pass which is limited to a specific country chosen when purchasing.

The pass available through the European Union #freeinterrail scheme is a global pass, see the full list of countries included and excluded at the end of this article.

 

What is the free interrail scheme?

Starting in 2018, the scheme will offer free interrail passes to those turning 18 in 2018. According to the blurb, the program “seeks to offer all young people, regardless of their background and including young people with reduced mobility, a chance to travel abroad”.

It is initially limited to 30,000 recipients in the first year however is part of a proposal that could eventually see all 18 year olds given a free interrail pass in the year of their 18th birthday.

 

How do I get a free interrail pass?

The application process will open on 12th June, applicants must be 18 on 1st July in order to apply (i.e. your 18th birthday will need to be between 2nd July 2017 and 1st July 2018).

Once applications open you will need to visit the European Youth Portal where there will be a user friendly application process. You will be required to say why you should be awarded a pass and agree to post about the trip on social media.

Check back here for full step by step instructions to apply for your freeinterrail pass once applications open or sign up to my mailing list to hear any updates.

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The first stage of the process will offer 15,000 tickets (around 1,900 are allocated towards British teenagers). If successful, there will be a second round of 15,000 tickets offered later in the year.

What route will you take? Check out my recommended interrail route for a first timer.

 

Who is eligible for a free interrail pass?

In order to be eligible for the scheme, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an EU citizen or legally residing within the EU
  • Be 18 as of 1st July 2018 to apply for free rail travel in summer 2018

There are only 30,000 free interrail passes available, it is not yet clear how recipients will be chosen. See below for British Citizens.

 

What does the free interrail pass entitle me too?

There are a number of different interrail passes available ranging from 5 travelling days within a 15 day period up to one month of unlimited travel.

The pass on offer as part of the EU free interrail pass scheme is a global pass for 15 travelling days within a month.

One of these passes would currently cost you £292 so it is a significant saving.

View all the passes here.

It is a global pass which will entitle you to travel within the 30 EU countries outlined below. Interrail passes are not usually valid in your own country.

According to the plans, pass holders will be encouraged to travel along routes that offer destinations with European cultural heritage and places of historic interest and traditions.

How long do I have to use my free interrail pass?

You usually have 11 months to use the pass, however early indications suggest this scheme will provide an extended window of 2 years.

 

 

FAQs

 

Can citizens of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta and Cyprus apply for a free interrail pass?

Yes, citizens of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta and Cyprus will still be able to apply for freeinterrail despite the fact that the global interrail pass is not valid here. Alternative transport options will be available in these countries.

 

Can British citizens apply for a free interrail pass after Brexit?

Yes, currently British citizens are eligible to apply for a freeinterrail pass. However due to Britain leaving the EU, Brits will only be able to apply in the first year of the scheme, this is limited to those born in 2000. As Brexit will happen in March 2019, it is not expected that British citizens will be eligible to apply in future years.

 

I was born after 2000, can I get a free interrail pass?

The scheme is launching in 2018 for those born in the year 2000, however it is due to last until 2020 so those born in 2001 and 2002 will also have the opportunity to apply. This is currently a pilot, if successful it may be rolled out permanently post-2020.

 

Which countries is an interrail pass valid for?

A global pass usually allows travel within Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom. The pass also allows travel on some trains passing through Monaco and Liechtenstein as well as ferry crossings between Greece and Italy.

There are a number of EU countries where the pass is not valid, this includes Albania, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. As railways do not exist in Andorra, Cyprus, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta or San Marino the passes are also invalid here.

 

However, the EU has announced that alternative transport options will be available to freeinterrail members hoping to visit countries where interrail passes are not valid on the rail network.

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