With international travel security measures becoming more stringent every day, I have grown accustomed to taking my passport everywhere with me when I travel. If you were born in the UK and are a UK citizen however, then there are times when travel is possible without a passport – even by plane! For UK citizens waiting anxiously on passports during this busy time of year, this may be welcome news!
Travel within the UK
If you are travelling by aeroplane within the UK (yes – even including Northern Ireland) then you do not need a passport. You will however usually be asked for reliable photographic ID such as a current photographic driver’s license. Children under 16 accompanied by an adult who can vouch for them are not required to hold any id for domestic flights.
I regularly zipped up and down to Scotland as a student using just my driving license and we were not asked for any ID when flying with Roo last year between London and Edinburgh. Please do be aware though that you may be asked for a birth certificate for infants – see more on this below.
Travel within the Common Travel Area
The Common Travel Area is a travel zone made up of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man between which border control checks are relaxed for citizens belonging to and travelling between these countries.
In theory, any of these locations should let in citizens of another member of the Common Travel Area without a passport, although other documents will be required. Each travel company differs as to its exact requirements and some are quite relaxed. Aer Lingus for example, state that they accept a bus pass with photo or photographic work pass as ID and Fly Be accept passports that have expired within the previous two years. On the whole though, airlines require a government issued photographic ID document such as your passport or a driving license.
Children under 16 again do not require photographic ID but do be aware that if you are travelling with an infant on your lap, you may be asked for proof that they are under 2 years old and therefore do not require their own seat. A birth certificate should suffice.
Ferry companies seem to be a little more relaxed in terms of what they accept as ID. We travelled to Jersey last year with Condor Ferries and didn’t need anything for Roo, and our driving licenses were not asked for (although we were waving them about in our hand so maybe that was all that was needed). As well as a driving license, other possible forms of ID include college ID passes, NUS cards, bank cards, birth certificates and utility bills. Irish Ferries even told me they accept photocopies of a drivers license or utility bill!
Children travelling by ferry with a parent or guardian do not require photo id. Some companies such as Stena specify a child will require a birth certificate as ID whilst others e.g. Irish Ferries, say that no ID is required for minors, although you might want to take a copy of the birth certificate in case of any problems. As with airlines, exactly which documents are accepted differs from company to company though.
The only time with ferries you need to be really careful is if you are travelling on a service that stops off within the Common Travel Area but whose ultimate destination is an international port. e.g. travelling to France via the Channel Islands. Some companies require a passport on these kind of routes, even though theoretically you shouldn’t need it.
Travel restrictions are changing all the time so please do not rely on the information here alone – always check what documents are required with your travel operator before setting off, preferably by phone or email. This is true particularly for children as I find the guidelines on this to be often vague on company websites.