Here, we answer all your most frequently asked questions regarding vaccination requirements for school trips abroad.
Do my students need to be vaccinated to travel abroad?
In recent weeks there has been an easing of entry requirements for 16s and under with a number of countries (including Spain and France) now allowing this age group to enter with a negative pre-departure test if travelling with a fully-vaccinated adult.
There are some countries that still require 12s and over to be double vaccinated to enter the country and/or to visit hotels, restaurants and other visits. However, in most countries, restrictions are being eased and gradually phased out. You can find the most up-to-date information regarding all entry requirements on the government’s website.
For older students (17+), all indications are that most countries will require all visitors aged 17+ to be double vaccinated or to present a negative pre-departure test for the foreseeable future.
Of course, it is completely up to individuals whether they wish to take up the offer of vaccination.
However, if the country requires them to be double vaccinated at the time of the trip and they have chosen not to be, they would not be eligible for a full refund as they have chosen not to meet the entry requirements. Normal cancellation charges would apply to that individual, so it’s really important that parents and guardians know this before signing up for your trip.
We would always recommend that group leaders make parents aware of the following:
• Current entry requirements for the country you’re visiting (this includes passport validity, visa requirements and vaccine requirements). You can find the most up-to-date information on the government’s website.
• The circumstances in which you would qualify for a full refund or be covered by travel insurance if the trip cannot go ahead. We’ve created a PowerPoint presentation for you to use at your parents’ evening.
Are 12-17s eligible for double vaccination in the UK?
It was announced in November 2021 that 16-17 year olds and 12-15 year olds would now be offered a second dose of vaccine a minimum of 12 weeks after their first dose.
12-17s can now book their first and second dose via the NHS website.
Or they can attend their nearest walk-in centre which can be found on the NHS website.
If your students are undecided about whether or not they want to take the vaccine, there are some great resources on the government's website for children, young people and their parents and guardians to help them make the choice that is right for them.
How long does it take to be double vaccinated for travel?
For under 18s, there is, at the time of writing, a minimum gap of 12 weeks between the first and second dose. For over 18s, this gap is reduced to 8 weeks.
You are considered fully vaccinated for the purposes of travel 2 weeks after you receive your second dose.
Therefore, if under 18s need to get vaccinated for their school trip, it’s advisable that they ensure they take their first dose a minimum of 16 weeks before the departure date, so that they have enough time to receive both doses.
What are the current vaccination entry requirements for under 18s in the country I’m visiting?
You can find the most up-to-date information regarding all entry requirements on the government’s website.
The Reopen EU website also has lots of useful, up-to-date information regarding vaccine entry requirements to EU countries.
You can also find further information on specific countries here:
Do adults and under-18s require a vaccine passport to enter museums and restaurants in the country I’m visiting?
Some countries are requiring a vaccine passport for entry to museums, restaurants and other attractions. You can find the most up-to-date information on vaccine passports on the government’s website.
The Reopen EU website also has lots of useful, up-to-date information on current restrictions in EU countries.
Further information on specific countries can also be found here:
What are the current vaccination entry requirements for returning to the UK?
On 18th March, the UK removed all travel restrictions for all passengers.
For more information on this , please see the government’s website.
Do adults require a booster to travel abroad?
Information regarding the validity of a second dose (or single does of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and a booster dose is an evolving situation at present in many EU countries.
We advise that you visit the FCDO website for guidance on the entry requirements for the country you are visiting and that you check this regularly to ensure that you are fully aware and in a position to comply with those requirements at the time of travel.
Some EU countries are now specifying that over-18s who received their second dose of vaccine (or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) more than 180 or 270 days ago and have not received a booster dose at the time of travel must follow the rules for unvaccinated passengers. Please check the FCDO website for more information regarding the country you are visiting.
UK government advice at the time of writing is that all over-18s and all over-16s who are at risk are eligible to have a booster vaccine at a minimum of 3 months after their second dose. For the most up-to-date information on booster vaccine eligibility, please see the NHS website.
Do children need to be vaccinated to take part in school trips?
There has recently been a relaxation of entry requirements in some countries, including Spain and France, who have started allowing unvaccinated 12-17s from the UK to enter without the need to isolate if travelling with a fully vaccinated adult or by taking a pre-departure covid test (please check FCDO website for country entry requirements).
However, as we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic, these entry requirements are not guaranteed to remain the same. So, being double vaccinated provides more certainty in terms of travel.
I’m not due to travel until the summer or autumn, will the vaccination and/or testing entry requirements still be in place?
Due to the ongoing pandemic, we expect that some form of entry requirements (vaccination or pre-departure tests) to remain in place for the foreseeable future in those countries that are already requiring all 18 and overs to be double vaccinated or to take a pre-departure test.
There has recently been a relaxation of entry requirements for 12-17s in some countries. However, as we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic, these entry requirements are not guaranteed to remain the same.
We would, therefore, recommend that you make parents aware that entry requirements are subject to change at least four months prior to travel (ideally from the start), so that they are aware and can arrange to be fully vaccinated in time for the trip, if they wish to do so.
How do children demonstrate their vaccination status?
From 3rd February, 12-15 year olds will be able to prove their vaccination status or recovery from a prior infection (between 10 days and 180 days after a positive PCR test) with the digital NHS Covid Pass, via the NHS app.
This is excellent news for school groups as it makes it easier than ever for children to travel to countries requiring proof of vaccination or recovery from a prior infection without being required to isolate.
In order to access the digital NHS Covid Pass, children will need to register for an NHS log in (or have a parent/guardian do this on their behalf).
You will need the child’s passport to verify their identity. This usually takes 24 hours, but may take longer during busy periods, so it is advisable to register well in advance to ensure access to the pass is in place before travel.
The NHS Covid Pass can also be downloaded or printed as a PDF.
How do adults demonstrate their vaccination status?
Please note that if you were vaccinated as part of an official clinical trial in England, your clinical trial site needs to put your vaccine information on the NHS vaccination record. Some trial sites have done this already and the rest will do it soon. If this does apply to you and you cannot obtain your NHS Covid Pass, you will need to contact your clinical trial site for assistance.
What if someone in the group is not vaccinated in time or chooses not to be vaccinated?
Of course, if an individual chooses not to be vaccinated, it is their right to do so.
However, just like passport validity and visa requirements, in order to enter a country it is an individual’s responsibility to ensure that they meet the entry requirements set by their destination country.
Failure to do so is considered disinclination to travel and is not covered by travel insurance.
Halsbury’s Covid Guarantee also stipulates that unvaccinated passengers signing on to a Halsbury trip do so at their own financial risk and will not receive a full refund should these entry requirements be in place at the time of travel.
So, it is imperative that students signing up to your school trip are aware that it is highly likely that they will need to be double vaccinated to take part in the trip and if they choose not to be, they may not be able to participate in the trip and normal cancellation charges will apply to those individuals.
If your trip is set to travel soon and you have any students that have had their first dose but will not be able to get their second dose in time, please contact your Itinerary Coordinator for advice.
How do I prove I’m medically exempt from receiving the vaccine?
For the most up-to-date information regarding proof of medical exemption, please visit the government’s website.
Please note, all information in this article was correct as of 5th January 2022. For the most up-to-date information on vaccine requirements and other entry requirements, please visit the government’s website.