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After Brexit – Rules for school trips to France 2023/24

— 27 Feb 2023 09:09:00 by Kate Moore

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Now that school groups are able to travel to France 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 2023/24 – 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
  • It is expected that everyone in your group will need to apply for a digital ETIAS pass to enter France from 2024  
  • Allow extra time at the ports to pass through the EU Entry/Exit System - due to be introduced in 2024 

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 passport. 

Can we use a collective (group) passport for our French school trip?

Now we've left the EU, some countries have stopped accepting collective passports. To check the countries you can travel to, or through, on a collective passport click here.

We recommend that groups do not plan to travel on a collective passport as it is unclear how they might work under the new ETIAS and EU Entry/Exit systems being introduced in 2024. 

Do school groups need an ETIAS visa to travel to France?  

British nationals will need to apply online for an 'ETIAS' visa waiver to enter France on a school trip from 2024. 

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 is expected to cost €7 per adult. Under 18’s in your group are exempt from any application fees but will still need a valid ETIAS to travel. 

The delayed ETIAS system is expected to be operational in 2024.

What about non-British nationals on the school trip?  

There are additional visa requirements for non-British/non-EU resident students. Read about visas rules for third-country nationals on a school trip to France.

How will the EU entry/exit system impact our school trip to France?

The EU entry/exit system is expected to be operational in 2024 when self-service passport booths will be introduced at ports and borders to collect the name, travel documents and biometric data of non-EU travellers. All UK travellers aged from 12 years will have their fingerprints collected as they enter Europe for the first time and so there may be delays at the ports and border crossing.

What other paperwork do we need?

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. 

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 in the 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. 

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.

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.