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I am a teacher at a UK secondary school. My school wants me to go on a school trip to France. The trip is to accompany our students to spend 5 days in Paris for tourism, no courses or any similar sort is involved. But since it is a work trip for me as the accompanying teacher, should I apply for a tourism visa category or a business visa category under the Schengen scheme?

I looked through the France visa website and found this on the 'business travel' page:

You are replying to invitations and requests from your partners in France. You want to attend or participate in trade fairs, seminars or conferences related to your professional activity.

In my case, there is no invitation or requests from any partner organisation in France.

It also states on the 'professional purpose' page that:

As an employee, you can:

  • Be posted by your employer to provide a service;

It is unclear whether 'service' is provided to a French organisation. I will only provide service to our students if makes sense.

My school will of course provide a letter confirming I will be accompany the students for this tourism trip.

I am rather confused on which visit type I should indicate on my application form. It looks like my visit to me is business related, but to the students the trip is only for leisure.

I'm grateful anyone can direct me to any official Schengen visa guide which may shed some light on this issue. Thanks.

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  • Do you normaly require a visa based on your citizenship? See 2024-01-02: Post-Brexit rules for School Trips to Europe - Voyager School Travel Visa rules for non-UK passport holders in your group, follow the link for France, which only meantions students and not teachers. Commented Feb 14 at 13:14
  • As tip: try to contact the French embassy and/or the France tourism office in UK. You may get some more information about this question, but also possibly other information (and stuffs, possibly a map of France for each student, and such goodies), or maybe also link to some funds Commented Feb 14 at 13:51
  • I contacted TLS which is the visa service provider but they said they cannot advise anything about the visa requirement, and advised me to contact the embassy. But on the embassy website, they asked me to contact TLS. Frustrating! Commented Feb 14 at 13:56
  • Some good news: service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F16146 tells us that a visa is free for people accompanying students, so the case is clearly a known one. Let’s try to find out how that fits in the boxes…
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 14 at 19:58
  • If TLS wasn’t involved I would say tick the “Other” box and state that you are a teacher accompanying students, which is a case explicitly referenced in the Schengen Visa Code, article 16 section 4(a) (for the purposes of no fee), but given what people report of their interactions with TLS, they will probably not like that…
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 14 at 20:43

1 Answer 1

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I think it is pretty clear that you should tick the box for 'business' when asked about the purpose of your stay. Even if you are only visiting tourist attractions, you are indeed at work, as a teacher, taking care of your students. If the online visa application form is the same as the paper form, the next field 'additional information on purpose of stay' will allow you, in writing, to explain that you are a teacher accompanying a school trip.

In the end, the French authorities only want an accurate description of what you are planning to do in France. Unlike many other places, countries in the Schengen area issue only one kind of short-term visa, so the issued visa will be the same no matter whether you are going for tourism, business or any other reason.

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    Thanks. If I state it is a business trip, it asks me to provide 'an invitation from a firm or an authority to attend meetings, conferences or events connected with trade, industry or work', eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32009R0810 I cannot provide such a letter because I do not intend to conduct business for any French organisation. Commented Feb 14 at 13:45
  • @sakurabamboo The invitation doesn't have to be from a French company, you should absolutely be sending a proof from the school for the trip Commented Feb 14 at 13:49
  • @sakurabamboo I would say that '... events connected with ... work' describes very well what you are planning to do in France. Do as Nicolas suggests and attach a letter from your school confirming that you attend the school trip as a teacher. Commented Feb 14 at 14:39

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