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Do non-British students need a visa for school trips to France? 

— 13 Nov 2023 09:50:04 by Kate Moore

Students on ferry

This information is for schools enquiring about visa requirements for children who are 'third-country' nationals - non-UK/non-EU citizens - studying in Britain. 

Though we are not qualified to give advice on French visa requirements, we have seen the guidance below from the French Consulate that states that children, who are non-EU/non-UK nationals, can travel visa-free to France on a school trip: 

School trip guidance from the French Consulate:

In accordance with Article 6(2), school pupils who are nationals of a third country listed in Annex I to the Regulation and who reside in a third country listed in Annex II to the Regulation and are travelling in the context of a school excursion as members of a group of school are exempted from an entry visa into France.

To travel visa-free to France, the non-EU pupil must:

  • Be a pupil at a general education school (up to sixth form) in the UK;
  • Be on an organised school trip with their own school;
  • Be accompanied by a teacher from the school;
  • Have their own valid passport;
  • Be resident in the UK 

Border paperwork for third-country nationals travelling to France on a school trip

To ease border crossing, it is advisable that the school provides the accompanying teachers with an official list (on headed paper) with details of the pupils (full name, date and place of birth, nationality) who are concerned.

Also print off and take this guidance letter from the French Consulate.

Click here to download a copy of the French Consulate's guidance letter

Important notes:

  • Students of further education colleges or universities / Accompanying teachers / Youth organisations are not eligible;
  • Children must have their own passports and cannot travel on a parent’s passport;
  • Note that this, alike a visa, cannot completely guarantee entry into France.
  • The decision to allow people to travel or not is made by the Border Police on the day of travel.

The School trips section of the France visa government website contains guidance for non-EU school children and contact details for the French visa department.

What about school trips to other EU countries?

You can find a country-by-country list of visa exemption schemes on the European Commission website (under “2 exemptions Article 6(2)”). 

Be prepared for upcoming changes at the border for ALL travellers

New rules are being introduced for all travellers to the EU, regardless of nationality, starting with additional border checks from October 2024 and the introduction of the ETIAS visa waiver in 2025. Read more about the upcoming EES and ETIAS and how to navigate the current passport and EHIC rules for a French school trip.  

Please note

Though we can share the experiences of other school groups who have visited our residential centres in France, we are not able to give official advice on French visas. The final decision to allow people to enter France is made by the Border Police on the day of travel.

Ultimately, it is the party leader's responsibility to obtain the necessary paperwork needed for the group to visit. Please contact the French Government visa department for the latest information.