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Europe by rail Thalys | Eurostar | TGV | ICE

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Non Flex, Mid Flex and High Flex fares?

Every rail carrier (such as Thalys, Eurostar, TGV®, Deutsche Bahn etc ...) has its own fare range, with its own specific fare conditions. The possibility to change your ticket (travel date, departure time, seat numbers etc ... ) or to get a refund in case of cancellation will therefore depend on the operating carrier and on the fare selected.    


On our website, we use the generic terms "Non Flex", "Mid Flex" and "High Flex" to designate the flexibility level of the fares displayed in a way which is common to all carriers.


  • "High Flex" fares generally allow full refund and unlimited exchange
  • "Mid Flex" fares generally allow partial refund and limited exchange
  • "Non Flex" fares generally allow no exhange nor refund at all in case of cancellation.


Please check the complete fare conditions when booking your international ticket. When booking online, you can select any fare and click on "details" to view the complete conditions of the selected fare option.


Note: the terms "High Flex", "Mid Flex" and "Low Flex" make sense on high speed trains with a specific seat reservation, but are less relevant in the case of InterCity trains in Belgium and in the Netherlands. These trains are operated without seat reservation and with open tickets, valid on any train - at any time - on the indicated travel date. If you take the InterCity train, fares are differentiated only by their travel conditions - and their price, of course.


Check our online booking tool >


How can I get a ticket valid from/to any Belgian station?

Most fares offered by Thalys and Eurostar are also available for "Any Belgian Station" (ABS).


Handy and flexible: in addition to the international journey shown on your ticket, these "Any Belgian Station" tickets mean you can take any SNCB train between the Belgian station of your choice and the station of departure or arrival for your international train (Brussels Midi, Liège-Guillemins or Antwerp Central).


If you take travel with TGV® Brussels-France, or if you want to buy an "Any Belgian Station" ticket after booking your international journey, choose the "Connection" ticket. This is a separate ticket, sold at €6.50 for 2nd class or €10 for 1st class. The "Connection" ticket (only sold to supplement an international train ticket) is also valid between any Belgian station and the station of departure or arrival for your international train.


If you take an ICE train between Belgium and Germany, your ticket price remains the same, regardless of whether you are travelling to/from Brussels, Liège, Antwerp, Ghent, etc. When booking your ticket, please specify your actual departure or arrival station in Belgium so that your ticket continues to be valid in Belgium.


In all cases, simply select your actual station of departure or arrival (e.g. Ostend, Ghent or Namur) instead of Brussels Midi if you want to book your "Any Belgian Station", "Connection" or ICE ticket online. Our booking system will then automatically offer you the appropriate ticket.


Important notice: with an "Any Belgian Station" ticket or a "Connection" ticket, each rail operator is only responsible for its own section of the journey.   


More details about "any Belgian station" tickets >


How far in advance can I book my travel?

The booking period can vary from one type of train to another. The main international trains at a glance:


  • Eurostar: booking possible 6 months before travel.
  • Thalys, TGV Lyria, CityNightLine and Thello: booking possible 4 months before travel. Exception for Thalys seasonal services: for Thalys Snow to the French Alps, booking possible from the end of the summer for the whole ski season. For Thalys Sun to the south of France, booking possible from the end of the winter for the whole summer season (date to be specified each year).
  • TGV®, ICE, IC Bus and other Deutsche Bahn trains: booking possible 3 months before travel. Exception: TGV® early bird sale for travel in winter periods (Christmas and ski season) and summer periods (July and August). For these periods, the date of the early bird sale is to be specified each year.
  • "Standard" international trains (InterCity or regional trains): buying tickets without booking a seat, particularly to the Netherlands, Lille or Luxembourg, is possible 335 days (11 months) before travel. But unlike the other trains mentioned, there are no restrictions on the various fares on these "standard" trains, so these are available up to the last minute.


How long before departure do I need to check in?

Check-in time for the Eurostar is 30 minutes before the scheduled time of departure if you have your tickets, or at least 45 minutes before the scheduled departure if you still have to pick up your tickets. Business Premier travellers and holders of a Eurostar Carte Blanche can use the express check-in up to 10 minutes before the train leaves.

There is no check-in time for all other trains, although we recommend that you should be on the platform 5 minutes before your train departs.


My online payment has been refused. Why?

Payment online takes place in full over the secure server of Ingenico, the trusted partner of banks and credit institutions. It is Ingenico which handles the data exchange between customer and bank. This means that SNCB Europe at no time holds payment details on its customers (credit card number, available balance, limit on use, etc.).

So if this arises, SNCB Europe will ask you to contact your bank or credit institution to find out the precise reasons for a payment refusal.

All we can do is tell you the most frequent reasons for refusal:
- the credit card number, validity date or CVC code entered is incorrect (check with your bank);
- the available balance on the card is insufficient (check with your bank);
- a pop-up blocker has been activated in your browser, which prevents payment using certain types of credit card or certain Home Banking applications (check the browser settings on your computer);
- in the case of American Express payments only: the address entered does not match the invoicing address (check with American Express)

In addition, to ensure maximum security of your payment transactions on its site, SNCB Europe uses advanced multi-criteria anti-fraud techniques. In spite of the work put into optimising the security procedures set up, it sometimes happens that attempts are incorrectly blocked, as they do not pass SNCB Europe’s security filter criteria set up by SNCB Europe.

Here we would point out that if the credit card used has been issued in a country not covered by the Atos Worldline “3D Secure” guarantee, there will be a greater likelihood of the transaction being refused. The “3D Secure” countries are the countries of Western Europe for Visa, or all countries of Europe in the case of Mastercard.

If you have any doubts regarding a specific transaction, please consult the SNCB Europe Contact Center.

How can we make sure that we can sit together on the train?

To change your seats, you must contact your original point of purchase.


If you made your reservation on the website of SNCB Europe, please contact us at +32 (0)70 79 79 79 (€ 0.30/minute). You can of course also go to the train manager who can assign you other seats just before or immediately after departure (depending on availability).


How do I get an invoice for my international train tickets?

SNCB is, generally, exempt from the obligation to issue an invoice for the sale of tickets. The original ticket is actually an invoice. Also, when buying your international tickets online, you receive a confirmation email including a VAT certificate. So this details the total deductible VAT. So just attach your tickets and this certificate to your VAT return.


However, if you would like an invoice for services rendered, a simplified R 376 invoice can be drawn up at a station, on presentation of original tickets.

How can I reserve for my child under four?

You do not need to reserve a ticket for a child under four years of age.  The child does not get a seat, but travels on the lap of a parent or accompanying adult. Only one child per parent or accompanying adult maximum is authorised.  If you want to make sure that your child has a seat, then you must reserve a ticket (child fare).  Remember to bring along an identity card with a photo for the child (for information, contact your municipality).


What can I expect from SNCB Europe on Facebook and Twitter?

Got a question about your booking? Looking for more info about one of our promotions? Keep in touch with us through our Facebook and Twitter social media channels.


You can expect a reply to your question/comment from Monday to Friday, 08.00 to 18.00.


On Facebook (in DutchFrench or English (UK)) you can also share your travel experiences with the whole of our community, keep up-to-date with train info and promotions, and discover inspiring travel tips about our 1,001 destinations.

On Twitter (in Dutch or French) you can look up timetables and follow the latest travel info for international trains.