When You Don't Need a Passport To Travel

For many people when you think of travel you assume you will always need a valid UK passport, you may be shocked to hear that you don't always require a passport to travel. Thousands of holiday makers and travelers take advantage of these passport free travel routes every year making these some of the most traveled to countries from the UK.

We are going to go through the circumstances that allow you to travel freely without a passport as well as what countries this applies to and how to obtain and travel on an emergency travel document.

Do I need a passport to travel within the UK?

The short answer is no.

Many customers find this confusing as there is lots of different sources all saying slightly different things. You do not need a passport to travel within the UK as passports are to grant you entry to another country and as you aren't leaving the UK a passport isn't necessary.

Even though you do not need a passport by law to travel between airports in the UK some airlines will still ask for a valid passport as proof of ID so it is important to check this before you book any travel plans. All travel providers will require some form of ID to travel, so although you do not require a passport by law it is handy to have for identification purposes.

Do I need ID to travel within the UK?

Although you do not need to provide a passport when travelling between airports and ports within the UK you will still need to provide your airline or travel provider with a valid form of identification. This can vary between travel providers so please contact their department, prior to booking, directly for a list of suitable documentation.

Obviously, a valid UK passport is the most comprehensive identification you can have, but if you do not currently hold a valid UK passport there are plenty of other options that you can use.

Please see below:

• Full new style photographic driving licence
• Citizen Card
• Armed forces ID card
• Student ID card
• Photographic disabled badge
• Firearms certificate

If you do not hold any of the above forms of identification please contact your travel provider and they will be able to advise you and provide you and provide you with more information on any other potential forms of identification they might accept, as it will vary by travel provider.

Do I need a passport to travel Ireland?

Northern Ireland


Northern Ireland is part of the UK and along with Scotland and Wales you do not require a passport to travel to and from any part of Northern Ireland. Travelling to Northern Ireland is exactly the same as travelling between London and Glasgow or Edinburgh and Cardiff.

As we have previously stated though you will still need a valid form of identification to travel, please contact your travel provider for more information.

Republic of Ireland

No (depending on airline)

If you are travelling to any other parts of Ireland, including Dublin, Galway and Cork the facts are slightly different, however, you still do not need a passport to travel, however some airline's have stricter policies, due to this we advise you to check before you book.

It is important to remember that Ireland and Northern Ireland are different as Northern Ireland is part of the UK, whereas the Republic of Ireland is an independent sovereign state and not part of the UK.

Why don't I need a passport?

The reason you are able to travel to Ireland without a passport is because Ireland along with the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands they form what is known as the "Common Travel Area"

This means that citizens of any of these countries can freely move between any other countries that form the common travel area, and as such are free of immigration controls.

Although you do not require a passport to travel to these destinations they all do require some form of valid identification. This is due to air and sea travel requirements and is to ensure passenger safety and an accurate record of passengers.

What Identification Can I Use?

Obviously if you do hold a valid UK passport this is the most comprehensive identification you can have, but if not there are plenty of other options below -

• Full new style photographic driving licence
• Citizen Card
• Armed forces ID card
• Student ID card
• Photographic disabled badge
• Firearms certificate

If you do not hold any of the above forms of identification please contact your travel provider for more information on any other potential forms of identification they might accept, as this does sometimes vary on your provider.

Children under 16 years

As it's not often possible to get identification other than a passport for children under the age of 16, many travel providers will not request ID for children but some due to certain requirements may require a valid UK Birth Certificate for the child. We recommend checking with your travel company before your trip to confirm this as it can differ depending on destination and method of travel.

However, please bear in mind when booking and travelling to these areas that all information provided in this section is on the basis that you are a British Citizen travelling to or from Ireland. If you are travelling from outside the UK or are not a British Citizen different rules will apply and we urge you to speak to your travel provider regarding your requirements prior to making any bookings.

Why do I need identification to travel?

As we have previously stated you do not need a passport to travel within the UK and in the Common Travel Areas, but why is it so important to still provide a valid form of ID?

In recent years the threat of terror attacks and an increase in people trafficking as well as a rise in illegal immigration the need for valid ID is higher than ever. All travel providers need to hold an accurate list of all passengers travelling in and out of their ports, airports and terminals. This is to accurately track passengers' movements, if there were an incident these travel providers would need to provide accurate information regarding all of their customers to the authorities.

Emergency travel documents

If you are abroad and you lose your passport or it is stolen or damaged you will need to apply for an emergency travel document, sometimes referred to an "emergency passport". An emergency travel document enables you to leave the country you are in and return to your final destination, either the United Kingdom or the country you are residing in, providing you are a British Citizen.

If you have already booked follow travel, ie. You are stuck in Thailand but you have already booked to travel onto Malaysia and then onto Australia before returning to the UK the emergency travel document will allow you to travel via a maximum of 5 different countries.

Unlike a standard adult UK passport which is valid for 10 years an emergency travel document is only valid for a specific journey at a specific time.

• Having an emergency travel document does not automatically grant you entry to the country or countries you are travelling to or through, you may also need a visa. So please check with that countries Embassy or Consulate before travelling.

• Where possible they will inform you of any known countries where the emergency travel document has restrictions.

• You can ONLY travel to the destinations you have stated on your application.

• If your plans change after you receive you emergency travel document you will have to apply and pay for a new one to be issued.

• This 'emergency passport' is ONLY valid for the journey stated, if your emergency travel document is not kept by immigration at your final destination you must return it to your nearest British Embassy/High Commission/Consulate for processing and destruction.

Where can I get an emergency travel document from?

To obtain an emergency travel document whilst you are overseas you need to first find out where your nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate is. And the best way to do this is to visit www.gov.uk/fco and there you can find out exactly where to go depending on what country you are in.

Now although most Embassy's, High Commission's and Consulates are able to provide you with an emergency passport, there are occasions where that is not possible. If the office you are directed to is unable to provide that service they help and guide you to the next nearest and available office.

If you are planning to travel in the UK, the Common Travel Area or anywhere else in the world and you would like to apply for a passport or you require an urgent passport appointment please See our services for more information.

Need more information?

Talk to the Passport Office team

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