Are you a school teacher or principal planning a school trip abroad? Here are our Top Ten Tips that will help you to make sure that things go smoothly, and will ensure that you know where to ask for help in the unlikely event that something does go wrong.
1 - Consult our Travel Advice
We list travel advice for almost all countries in the world on our website. Check the advice for the country you intend to visit. It is worth checking the advice at an early stage of planning for the trip, as well as closer to the departure date in case of any late security changes to the country being visited. Don’t forget to check the contact details for the local Irish Embassy or Consulate in the country you intend to visit.
2 - Register with us
Register the details for the travelling group on our Citizens’ Registration System. This means we will have a record of the group and will be able to contact you quickly should an emergency arise in the area you are travelling in. We encourage everyone to register, but it’s especially recommended for people travelling to more far flung or unusual destinations which may bring with them higher risks.
3 - Check passport requirements and validity
Ensure that everyone has a valid passport and that the passports have adequate time left on them before they expire. Check what the requirement is with the host country and your airline as these requirements can vary. Some countries require passports to have at least six months left on them from the date of planned departure before allowing entry into the country.
4 - What about visas? Are they required?
Check well in advance and engage with the Embassy or Consulate of the country you are travelling to, to find this out (bear in mind the local Embassy may be based in London). Leave sufficient time to make the necessary applications.
5 - Do any of the travelling group intend travelling on a passport other than an Irish one?
If the answer to this is yes, are the entry requirements for these travellers different? For example: Do they need a visa for entry, although Irish passport holders may not? Depending on their residency status in Ireland, such a student might also require a re-entry visa to come back to Ireland. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) will be able to advise on this.
6 - Get family details
Ensure that you have contact details for the families of all those travelling in case any need to be contacted in the event of a crisis. Provide your contact details to them too.
7 - Confirm travel insurance
Ensure that all those travelling have adequate travel insurance. It is especially important to closely check that the insurance covers the cost of medical repatriation, as well as any specific or more unusual activities that the group plan to undertake. You will know what the activities to be undertaken are; ensure that the insurance is tailored to this, but issues to be mindful of could include:
8 - Get European Health Insurance Cards
If the trip is within Europe, ensure that all those travelling have valid European Health Insurance Cards. These can be applied for through the HSE website. It is important that these are applied for well in advance of the trip as it can take some time to process these applications.
9 - Does anyone need medication or vaccinations?
Ensure that an adequate supply of relevant medication is brought by any student with particular requirements, in case of any issues surrounding availability upon arrival or potential delays on your return. Depending on the medication that a student may require they may need to bring a photocopy of the prescription with them so they can show it at an airport, or use it to get re-supplied should their baggage be lost. Also check with a doctor at least eight weeks before the trip what vaccinations may be required.
10 - What to do if things go wrong?
Should you require consular assistance during a school trip, contact should be made with the local Irish Embassy or Consulate. Save the contact details for the relevant Embassy or Consulate in advance and have them with you just in case. In Dublin, the Consular Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which provides assistance to Irish citizens while they are abroad, is contactable at +353 1 408 2000 or you can get in touch by email through the Contact Us section of our website.