Do you need a passport to book an international flight?

Published on: 29 June 2024

Do you need a passport to book an international flight? You might think so. After all, the world is full of incredible sights and experiences, from Australia’s Sydney Opera House and the shopping malls of Singapore’s Orchard Road, to the white sand beaches of Fiji and theatre shows of New York City’s Broadway.

Booking an international flight has become a lot easier than it used to be, given it can now be done via nothing more than a smartphone. But you still might be wondering whether you need a passport to book a flight.

This article will answer that question for you – by helping to explain and clarify the requirements around needing a passport when booking international flights.

Passport Requirements for Booking an International Flight

Booking international flights can be a complicated matter. First comes looking for attractive flights, and then comes booking one. This begs such questions as can you book an international flight without a passport? We explain all right here.

You might be surprised to learn that to book an international flight, a passport is not normally needed. However, some airlines and travel agents might ask for it upfront.

As an example, you can book an international flight from Melbourne to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City with Jetstar without having to key in your passport details. In fact, you can book any Jetstar international flight without a passport, so long as you have one when actually flying!

If you’re considering booking an international flight and don’t yet have a passport, it’s worth noting that processing times can be anywhere up to 12 weeks, depending on your issuing country and personal circumstances, and especially if it’s your very first passport you are applying for.

It’s therefore generally best to have a valid passport before you consider making any booking. In addition, many countries require passport holders to have between 90 and 180 days remaining on their passport validity date after the date they intend to return home.

It’s always best to double-check, and if your passport is reaching its expiry date, it’s probably worth sorting out a new one right away to save potential problems later down the line.

Usually, an airline will only ask for your passport details a few days before travel. They do this because airlines are fined huge sums by immigration authorities for flying in people without legitimate forms of identification. For the same reason, airlines may well ask for proof of a visa if you require one to enter the country you are flying into.

What Passport Details Are Needed to Book a Flight?

If you don’t need a passport to book an international flight, do airlines and travel agencies requires passport details for the booking to go through? For example, do you need passport number to book international flight?

Even if you book an international flight without needing a passport, you will be required to give details such as your full legal name and date of birth. These details must match exactly what it says in your passport or you will be refused entry onto the flight out of concern you are not who you claim to be.

It’s well worth spending the time to make sure your details are correct. Or even ask someone else to check for you. We recommend having your passport open in front of you when you input these details, rather than relying on your memory or handwritten notes that might be mistakenly wrong.

It’s definitely not worth booking an international flight in a hurry – we’ve all made terrible spelling mistakes when in a rush and there are plenty of stories out there of passengers having to pay several times the cost of the actual flight to get a mistake in their name corrected.

And please, don’t forget to take your passport to the airport with you, or you’ll be heading home, not on the holiday of a lifetime. We guarantee it.

When it comes to providing additional passport details such as your passport number, either when booking or a few days before travel, it’s equally important to ensure you are inputting the information correctly.

It’s likely the airline’s employees also ask you to provide your passport expiration date, so its validity can be checked, and possibly also your nationality (i.e. what country’s passport you want to travel on) and the issuing country (which will generally be the same as your nationality).

The information you need when booking an international flight for someone else under their name or anyone else’s name is exactly the same.

Why a Passport is Essential for International Travel

Having read this, you may be wondering why a passport is essential for international travel at all. Here are the reasons!

A passport is an official document issued by a government guaranteeing proof of your identification and recognized as such by all sorts of international laws. As such, a passport is the must-have document for international travel.

You won’t generally get onto an international flight without one, because the customs and immigration authorities of the country you are heading to will want to check your identity carefully.

Like life in general, there are exceptions to the rule on needing a passport. For instance, thanks to the Schengen agreement, any EU national can board an international flight from their home country to another EU country without having a passport in hand. They will however need some official form of official identification, such as a national ID card or photo driving licence.

How to Obtain a Passport

So you don’t need a passport to book an international flight, but you will need a passport to take that flight. This might have you wondering how to obtain a passport.

The exact requirements on how to obtain a passport will depend on the country that is issuing the passport – for most travellers, this will be the country where you live. Countries have dedicated websites detailing the process involved – but watch out for fake sites that are trying to steal your money, your identity, or both.

It’s likely there will be two potential processes to follow, one for a first passport application, and another for a renewal. A first passport application is much more time-consuming, as you will need to prove your identity. It’s probable that you’ll have to supply your birth certificate, as well as a passport photograph.

Passport renewals are simpler, requiring a new image, and can sometimes be done entirely online, depending on the country in question. Otherwise, you may need to send documents to a processing office or even go in-person to hand in their passport renewal applications.

If sending important documentation by post, be sure to use a registered secure postal service, such as DHL, ideally with the ability to track your envelope. Read through your application carefully before submitting it, and note that it is a legal document. Mistakes will see your application rejected (but money taken), while being deliberately untruthful is a very serious offense.

If you cannot wait for the standard processing time to pass, expedited (speedy) services also often exist for emergency situations and for those who need to travel at short notice, such as for work.

They vary from country to country, will cost you substantially more than the standard passport fee, and can still take anywhere from 24 hours to seven days. They may also require an in-person interview, which can be difficult if you don’t live in the same city as the passport issuing office.

Exceptions and Special Cases

While most of us can book an international flight without needing a passport at the time of booking, there are very few exceptions when it comes to needing a passport to fly. In short, you’re going to need to be the King of England.

However, there are special agreements between certain countries that do away with the need for the old-fashioned style of passport at least. As already noted, EU nationals can travel anywhere within the EU without a passport (provided they have an alternative official ID).

Likewise, US citizens can enter Canada, Mexico, and much of the Caribbean with a passport card – basically another form of ID card – instead of a paper passport. There is also what’s known as a ‘common travel area’ between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, which means passports are not required for travel, although in reality airlines and ferry companies will demand some form of identification.

Consequences of Not Having a Passport

You might still be asking ‘can I travel in flight without a passport?’ In which case, we’ve got bad news you for. It’s really not worth thinking about the consequences of failing to have a passport when travelling internationally.

At best, you will be refused travel. At worst, if you somehow make it beyond the numerous checks and on to an international flight before being discovered, you will be arrested by immigration officials and either imprisoned or sent straight back home for trying to enter their country without a valid passport.

Tips for International Travellers

Below are some useful tips for successful international travel:

  • Keep a close eye on your passport’s ‘date of expiry,’ remembering that many countries require passports to be valid for at least 180 days from the date you leave their country to return home.
  • When applying for a new passport, make sure you do so in plenty of time to avoid added stress or the steep fees of expedited services.
  • Take a photo of the information page of your passport, or make a scan or photocopy, and keep this safe in case your passport is lost or stolen while you’re traveling.
  • Always treat your passport as your most important possession when traveling – it is. Keep it somewhere secure, such as a hotel safe, or a zipped front-facing pocket.
  • Remember that in addition to a valid passport, you may also need a visa to enter the country you want to visit.

Conclusion

Our planet is packed with bucket list attractions few people will want to miss out on during their lives. That means those truly looking to experience the world will at some point – private yacht ownership excluded – need to book an international flight. 

A valid passport is a must for international travel. Usually, a passport isn’t required for international flight bookings, but you will absolutely have to have a passport when taking that flight. There are really no exceptions, so ensure your passport and the passports of your loved ones are in good order as soon as you can.

FAQ

Is it possible to travel internationally with an expired passport?

No. You must have a valid passport for any international flight plan. This means it cannot be expired. Ensure you check individual country entry requirements to discover their definition of validity – you may need 90–180 days of remaining validity on your planned return date to even enter a country.

What happens if I lose my passport while traveling?

You will need to contact your home country’s nearest embassy or consulate as soon as possible to obtain an emergency travel document to get back home.

Can I use my national identity card instead of a passport for international travel?

This will depend on your specific circumstances, such as your nationality and the rules of the country you wish to travel to. You should check for the latest information from that country, although it’s more than likely you will require a passport.

What is a passport card? How do I get one?

A passport card is a form of photo identification that replaces the need for a paper passport in some very specific circumstances. Only the USA and the Republic of Ireland issue passport cards. You must be a citizen of one of these two countries to obtain one. The application process is then similar to applying for a standard passport.

Can we book flight tickets without visa?

Yes. Just as you can book flights without a passport number, you can also book flights without visas in place. Just be sure to obtain them before you travel.

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