New Rules for French School Groups from 28 December 2023

New Rules for French School Groups

From 28 December 2023 French schoolchildren (aged 18 and under) will be able to travel using their national identity card when travelling on organised trips and waive UK visa requirements for their classmates who are visa nationals

BETA has been campaigning for the Government to ease travel for youth and student groups of under 18’s travelling to the UK for a significant time and we are now starting to see the results.

In March 2023, the UK-France Joint Leaders’ Declaration committed to making changes to requirements for school children travelling to and from France.

Earlier this month the Government published a Statement of Changes (SOC) updating its immigration rules concerning expanding activities permitted on Visitor Visas and relaxing travel document requirements for school groups from France.

This is not a pilot scheme as previously indicated. This is a permanent change to the UK’s Immigration Rules. To take advantage of these new rules, a form will need to be completed. Read the guidance and download the form here

The new rules will come into effect on 28 December 2023 state:

Changes to travel document requirements for school groups visiting the UK from France

  • These changes allow children aged 18 and under, studying at a school in France, to visit the UK on an organised educational trip without passports or visit visas, as is currently required on all other visits to the UK.
  • EU/EEA/Swiss national children aged 18 and under, who are resident and studying at a school in France, can now use national identity cards to visit the UK on an organised school trip instead of passports.
  • The changes also provide for visa national children aged 18 and under, who are resident and studying at a school in France, to be able to visit the UK on an organised school trip without obtaining a visit visa (but we will still require passports of this cohort)

Commenting on the change, Emma English, Executive Director of BETA said

“This is a positive step ahead in our campaign, however, it does not go all the way to meeting the needs of our industry. BETA has been lobbying for a Youth Group Travel Scheme that would allow supervised groups of EU nationals and residents under the age of 18 to travel to the UK for a period of up to 6 weeks to take part in group educational tours, school immersions, English Langauge Courses and organised cultural, educational and sporting visits aimed at youth and student groups.
We will push for the expansion of this scheme in France and call that it be expanded to our European neighbours.”

 

Bilateral agreements of a similar kind with other EU member states have not been announced to date.

20 December 2023