French pupils no longer need passport for school trip to UK

The agreement is set to come into force from December 23, and has been welcomed by a ferry operator

Two French passports on a wooden table
School children enrolled in French school with a valid ID card will now be able to travel to the UK on a school trip without a passport
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French school pupils aged 18 or under will no longer need a passport for school trips to the UK and will be able to travel with just their ID card, the British Embassy in France has confirmed.

The rule will come into force from December 23 this year (2023), after having been agreed at a bilateral summit on March 10 in Paris, with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

To travel under the rule, pupils must be 18 or under, currently enrolled at a school in France, and be travelling within the context of an ‘educational trip’.

Les voyages scolaires deviennent plus faciles entre & ! Annoncé au sommet bilatéral du 10 mars, cet engagement se concrétise le 28 décembre: nos élèves @education_gouv & pourront voyager avec leur carte d’identité et nos élèves de pays tiers n’auront plus besoin de visa

— French Embassy UK (@FranceintheUK) December 11, 2023

British Home Secretary James Cleverly announced in the UK Parliament: “We are making changes to allow children aged 18 and under, studying at a school in France, to visit the UK on an organised educational trip without the usual passport or visit visa requirements.

“EU, other EEA, and Swiss national children will be able to travel on their national identity card,” he said.

The rule is a U-turn on the previous travel conditions. Since October 1, 2021, French citizens coming into the UK have needed a passport; an ID card was not enough.

Travel groups have welcomed the change, including major Channel ferry operator Brittany Ferries.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), it said: “Great news,” while sharing a post by travel journalist Simon Calder, in which he said that “insisting on passports almost obliterated school group travel to the UK”.

Great news

— Brittany Ferries (@BrittanyFerries) December 8, 2023

Since the October 2021 rule, school trips to the UK from the EU have fallen 40%, said a survey from the Tourism Alliance. Meanwhile, Brittany Ferries said that its traffic in 2023 had dropped by 26% compared to its 2018-19 season.

A similar pilot scheme to allow French citizens to travel to the Channel Island of Jersey with just their ID card launched in summer this year, in a bid to boost the declining numbers of day-trippers.

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