After Brexit – Rules for school trips to France 2022

— 11 Apr 2022 09:09:00 by Kate Moore

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Now that school groups are able to travel abroad again, we’ve sifted through the rules to explain how Brexit will impact your school trip to France and what actions are required.

Preparing for a school trip to France in 2022 – Top tips for organisers 

  • Check your passport’s issue and expiry date and allow plenty of time to apply for a new passport if required 
  • Students and teachers will either need a valid EHIC card, or apply for a new GHIC, before travel 
  • Ensure the school trip has adequate travel insurance with medical cover  
  • Everyone should check their mobile phone provider’s roaming charges for France
  • Make sure you have the group’s return tickets and accommodation details when you cross the border  
  • From the end of 2022, everyone will need to apply for a digital ETIAS pass to enter the EU  

Will anyone need a new passport? 

Before Brexit, you could travel to EU countries on your passport right up to the point it expired. Now, school groups will need to check the passport issue date and expiry date rules of the country they are visiting. The rules for British passport holders visiting France state that:

  • passports must be less than 10 years old on the day your group enters (check the 'date of issue')
  • passports must be valid for at least 3 months after the day your group leaves (check the 'expiry date')

Anyone who doesn't meet this criteria should allow plenty of time to apply for their new dark blue passport which replaces the burgundy-coloured EU document.  

Do school groups need a visa to travel to France?  

The good news is that while there is considerable impact on people who travel a lot or spend a significant amount of time outside the UK, teachers taking school trips to an EU country will see little difference. 

Under the current rules, UK passport holders can travel to France without needing a visa and visitors can spend up to 90 days in the Schengen zone during any 180-day period. This means that a teacher can take a school ski trip to Italy at Easter, followed by a French trip to Normandy in June, and still take an extended summer break in Spain under the 90-day limit. 

At the end of 2022 UK nationals will need to apply online for an ETIAS to France. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System and is similar to the ESTA permit required to visit the US. The EU system is designed to keep track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the EU, such as the UK.

The ETIAS will be valid for 3 years and costs €7 per adult. Under 18’s in your group are exempt from any application fees but will still need a valid ETIAS to travel. 

Are EHICs still valid?   

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives holders access to state-provided emergency healthcare for free or reduced cost in the EU. Though not a substitute for school travel insurance, the EHIC can help reduce out of pocket medical expenses in the event that someone falls ill or has an accident while on a school trip to EU. 

The good news is that your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still valid in the EU until it expires. You’ll be able to replace your EHIC with a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) up to 6 months before it expires. 

Applying for a GHIC is free of charge on the NHS website. Beware of unofficial websites that charge you a fee to apply. 

Do we need school group travel insurance?  

Whether or not you have a GHIC or EHIC, your group will need travel insurance to cover emergency healthcare costs. We offer specialist School Trip Insurance which includes enhanced COVID-19 medical and cancellation cover. 

What about mobile roaming? 

The guarantee of free roaming throughout the EU ended on 1 January 2021. This means that if your operator has reintroduced roaming charges you may now be charged more for using your mobile device in France.

The UK and EU have agreed to cooperate on “fair and transparent” rates for mobile roaming and the government has passed laws to protect customers including: 

  • A £45-a-month cap on using mobile data abroad (then you must opt in to use more) 
  • Requirements for customers to be informed when they've reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance 

Will things be different at the border?

Yes. Firstly, you may have to queue in separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. Also, when you arrive in France, be prepared to show your return ticket and proof of accommodation for your stay. We will provide these documents in your travel pack. You may also be asked to show that you have enough money for your stay. 

Can I take food into the EU after Brexit?

You are not allowed to bring any dairy or meat products into the EU from the UK and so don’t be tempted to pack chocolate, biscuits, Bovril or any other products that contain prohibited ingredients. The only exception is powdered infant milk and special foods required for medical reasons. Read more on the EU website. 

What about COVID-19 travel restrictions for school trips to Europe? 

These requirements relate to school trips to France following Brexit.

For up to date COVID-19 school travel advice, please visit our COVID-19 Travel hub