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Passports, visas and API

Passport banner.

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 just three things everybody needs to check before they travel:

  1. Do you have a valid passport?
  2. Do you have the required visas?
  3. Have you supplied your Advance Passenger Information (API)?

1. Passports

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:

Check passport validity requirements

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.

Identification on UK internal flights

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.

Identification on flights between the UK and Republic of Ireland

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.

Help obtaining a passport

If you need a passport or need to renew an existing one you can apply directly to your nation’s passport office. In the UK, that’s the UK passport service:

UK passport service

If you’d like help with your application, British Airways has partnered with VisaCentral, a company that will do all of the hard work for you. You’ll get a 30% discount on VisaCentral’s service fees as a British Airways customer.

Get help with a passport application

2. Visas

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.

Do I need a visa?

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:

Check your visa, passport and health requirements

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.

Alternatively, if you’d like help with your application, our passport and visa service partner VisaCentral can take all of the hard work and worry out of the process. You’ll get a 30% discount on VisaCentral’s service fees as a British Airways customer. See ‘Help with your visa or ESTA application’ below to learn more.

Travelling to the US

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.

Learn more about the Visa Waiver Programme and ESTA

Apply for an ESTA

Help with your visa or ESTA application

If you’d like help with your application, our passport and visa service partner VisaCentral can take all of the hard work and worry out of the process. Complete the form below and follow the step-by-step instructions for a safe, secure and easy way to obtain your visas:

Benefits of this exclusive service include:

  • step-by-step instructions specific to each destination
  • access to a database of all the required and up-to-date government forms
  • quality assurance and review of all documents by VisaCentral professionals
  • saving time — VisaCentral will stand in line at the embassy or consulate on your behalf
  • a 30% discount on handling fees for British Airways customers

3. Advance passenger information

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, at an airport check-in desk or kiosk.

You will be required to supply some or all of the following details:

  • your full name (as it appears on your passport)
  • your date of birth
  • your gender
  • your nationality
  • your passport number
  • your passport expiry date
  • the country that issued your passport
  • your country of residence

Additionally, on US flights, you will be asked for:

  • the destination address of your first night’s stay
  • Alien Registration Number (Green Card) for those who have US residency
  • redress number if you have one (this enables travellers who have experienced problems entering the US to avoid future difficulties — learn more at dhs.gov/trip)

What happens to my information?

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.

Legal statement for US flights

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.

How to provide Advance Passenger Information

You can add Advance Passenger Information to your booking on ba.com using Manage My Booking. You will see a red exclamation mark against the passenger information section indicating if any information is outstanding.

Add Advance Passenger Information

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.