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When and How to Make a Reservation

All reservation holders must be in possession of a valid rail pass or city-to-city ticket that covers the routing of the train they have reserved. Reservations may be made within 60 days of the actual travel date, and it will be helpful to research the train schedules before making a request. Reservations can be made directly at a train station or by using the City to City search tool on our website. For booking your seat only reservations choose "I have a railpass".

Reservations are required on:

  • Sleeping accommodations on all overnight trains not on day trains
  • High-Speed Trains (e.g. Eurostar, TGV, TAV, Thalys)
  • Long Distance and Express Trains in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  • Long Distance and Express Trains during high season (Jul-Aug)

Changing Reservations

Most reservations are non-refundable and non-changeable. The only exception are sleeper train reservations, and only if requests are submitted to the issuing office 3 days prior to the travel date on the ticket.

Seat vs. Sleeper Reservations

  • Private cabins include 1-2 berths in 1st class and 2-3 berths in 2nd class.
  • Sleeper prices are generally lower in Italy, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Prices are higher on certain quality trains such as Hotel trains between France and Spain.
  • Couchettes are community cabins and include 6 berths in 2nd class and 4 berths in 1st class if available (mostly in France).
  • Most British sleepers and ferry crossing reservations must be made in Britain.

Why do I need a reservation on some trains if I have a Eurail pass and is there an extra cost involved?

The various types of Eurail passes, from the Global Pass to the Single Country Pass exist because of the cooperation between some 27 European countries. That said, each national railway has its own set of rules and regulations and the rules regarding reservations vary from country to country. It’s important that you check with us to find out exactly which trains need reservations and what the extra costs may be. You can hop on and off the majority of local and regional trains in the countries covered by your pass at will, but a good rule of thumb is that reservations are usually required on premium trains including: overnight trains, high-speed trains and International trains.

Some of the most popular trains require passengers to purchase a seat reservation, in addition to the cost of the pass. This includes all overnight train accommodations.  Some trains offer seats at $11 USD per seat, up to a single sleeper for one person (available with a first class pass).  Most trains will offer the 4 person couchettes and 6 person couchettes also.  These rooms are non-gender specific couchettes that accommodate 4-6 people and include a bunk bed and bedding.  The private singles, doubles, and triples are typically used for families and are private rooms for 1, 2, or 3 people.  If a single traveler prefers to travel in a double or triple room, these rooms will be gender specific if you are not reserving the entire room.  The cost of the overnight trains will vary depending on the train.

Day trains, for example the high-speed trains in any country require seat reservations.  In France, the TGV and Inner City trains require seat reservations. The cost for a seat reservation is about $11 USD per seat .

If you are traveling on International trains (between countries), you will also need a seat reservations. For example, if you take the Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam and you have a 1st class rail pass, you can choose a 1st class seat reservation for an additional cost of $85 USD per seat.  If you have a 2nd class pass, the cost of the seat reservation is $54 USD per person.  In Germany, trains that require seat reservations include the ICE trains, IC (Inner City) trains, and EC (Eurocity) trains.

In addition, any cross border day train will require a seat reservation.  In Italy, you must reserve seats on IC (InnerCity), EC (EuroCity), Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca trains. Reservations on the Frecciarossa and Frecciabianca trains are $14 USD per seat per train.

ItaliaRail can make reservations on many but not ALL trains. For seats on trains we cannot reserve, you will have to wait until you are in Europe and head to the station to make the reservation. Please note: If you board the train without a reservation you can be fined up to $65 USD per person and have your rail pass confiscated, which means you’ll lose whatever days of travel you have left on the pass.

Take heart in knowing that if the train you want requires a reservation, that reservation is required for all passengers not just Eurail pass holders. Buying a point to point ticket would not help you avoid making a reservation.