Navigating term-time travel: A look at the consequences across Europe

Navigating term-time travel: A look at the consequences across Europe.

Navigating term-time travel: A look at the consequences across Europe. Image: Olga B. Shalaeva /

Are you considering a holiday during term time to sidestep inflated high-season rates?

This increasingly contentious practice is gaining traction amid the escalating cost of living crisis.

United Kingdom

Parents in the UK are set to encounter steeper penalties for pulling their children out of school.

In the UK, parents risk fines reaching up to £2,500 (€2,850) or a potential three-month imprisonment for unauthorised school absences.

Presently, fines commence at £60 (€68) per parent for five or more missed days, escalating to £120 (€137) each if not settled within 21 days.

As of August 2024, these fines will rise to £80 (€93) and £160 (€187), respectively, with the prospect of prosecution looming after 28 days.

Any deviation from school attendance must be endorsed in advance by the head teacher, necessitating “exceptional circumstances,” a term subject to the school’s discretion.

Nearly half of surveyed parents, according to Flight Centre, believe that a holiday could qualify under this criteria.

Consequences for flouting these rules in the UK include the potential issuance of a parenting order, mandating attendance at parenting classes, or issuance of education supervision or school attendance orders.


In France, compulsory schooling spans from age three to 16, with authorised absences granted for various reasons, including “child following their legal representatives (travel outside school holidays).”

Failure to justify absences or dishonesty can incur fines of €135, with more severe penalties of up to two years imprisonment and a fine of €30,000 if educational integrity is compromised, although such enforcement is rare and necessitates action from education authorities.


Germany mandates schooling from age six to 16, with fines imposed for unauthorised absences, varying by state from €35 per day in Bremen to a potential total of €2,500 in Berlin.

German authorities actively monitor airports for families taking unauthorized school-time vacations, collaborating with schools to assess absences.


In Spain, compulsory schooling spans ages three to 16, with absenteeism potentially resulting in fines, prison terms ranging from three to six months, and, in extreme cases, loss of parental rights.

Fines, locally set by municipalities, typically cap at €1,500 but may soar to €30,000 in Madrid.

Enforcement primarily targets cases where a child misses over 20 per cent of classes monthly.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Author badge placeholder
Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.