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If you’re looking to make a smooth start to your journey, you need to make sure you have the right documents, such as a valid passport and the relevant visas. Without these essentials, you may not be allowed to travel. In most cases, it should be fairly simple to sort out.
There are four things everybody needs to check before they travel:
Unless you are flying solely within the UK you’ll need a passport or an equivalent travel document that is valid for the full duration of your trip.
Some countries additionally require that the passport is valid for a minimum period beyond your trip — usually three or six months. Visit the IATA Travel Centre to check the passport validity requirements of your destination:
Your children will also need their own passports — even infants under two years old.
Processing times for passports vary but it may take six weeks or longer to receive a passport after applying, so we advise that you wait until your passport has arrived before making a reservation. Many countries offer fast-track applications where required.
If you are flying solely within the UK, including Northern Ireland, you do not need a passport but we advise that you carry photographic identification with you when travelling, such as your passport or driving licence. This may be requested at certain points in your journey. Children under the age of 16 years old do not require identification to travel within the UK.
If you are a citizen of the UK or Republic of Ireland who was born in that country you do not need a passport to travel between the two countries but you do require some form of photographic identification, such as a driving licence.
All other travellers require a valid passport to travel between the two countries.
Depending on your nationality and the purpose of your journey, you may need a visa or an equivalent form of authorisation for every country you enter as part of your journey — even if you are only changing flights. This is in addition to a valid passport. Your visas will be checked both before you board the flight and again on arrival at your destination.
For free, accurate and up-to-the-minute advice on visa requirements and certain types of entrance fees, visit the IATA Travel Centre. You’ll also be able to check passport and health requirements, as well as customs, currency and airport information for your destination:
If it indicates you need a visa for your journey, you can apply directly with the embassy or high commission of the country you want to travel to — visit their website or local consulate to learn more about the process.
If you are a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand or USA, you can join the 'Registered Traveller' scheme and enjoy faster entry to the UK, as long as you have a biometric passport.
Once you apply, the UK Border Force will carry out checks to see if you are eligible to join, and once you're accepted you won't need to fill out a landing card for the UK. You'll be able to enter the UK at the ePassport gates, the UK/EU lanes at London Heathrow or the Registered Traveller lanes at London Gatwick.
Citizens of countries covered by the Visa Waiver Programme (such as the UK) are able to travel to the USA without a visa providing they hold a valid Electronic System Travel Authorisation (ESTA) and meet the requirements of the programme.
You can apply online and should receive approval straight away, although we recommend applying at least 72 hours before your departure. An ESTA is valid for multiple journeys for up to two years or until your passport expires, whichever is sooner.
Some countries' Immigration departments require additional documentation for all children travelling into, out of or transitting their country. The extra documentation that you may require varies depending on the country, so please make sure you have everything you need before you travel.
The IATA Travel Centre can advise you what documentation is required for each country. Just make sure you use the date of birth of your child to ensure the extra requirements are displayed.
Many governments around the world require some passport and travel information from airlines about the people flying into their country. This Advanced Passenger Information, sometimes called API or APIS, is collected by us before you check in through Manage My Booking, or at an airport check-in desk or kiosk.
You will be required to supply some or all of the following details:
Additionally, on US flights, you will be asked for:
The information you provide is sent securely to the necessary government authorities.
Some governments require us to provide them with information from customer flight bookings, and these will contain additional passenger details to those listed above.
The Transportation Security Administration of the US Department of Homeland Security requires us to collect information from you for purposes of watch list screening, under the authority of 49 U.S.C. section 114, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Providing this information is voluntary; however, if it is not provided, you may be subject to additional screening or denied transport or authorization to enter a sterile area. TSA may share information you provide with law enforcement or intelligence agencies or others under its published system of records notice. For more on TSA Privacy policies, or to view the system of records notice and the privacy impact assessment, please see TSA's website at tsa.gov.
You can add Advance Passenger Information to your booking on ba.com using Manage My Booking. You'll see a red exclamation mark against the passenger information section at the top of the page indicating if there is any Advance passenger information that you still need to tell us about.
If you haven't given us this information by the time you check-in, we will ask you for it when you use online check-in, a check-in kiosk or a check-in desk.