Thursday, 20 May 2010
Dáil Eireann Debate
56. Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make representations to the airlines serving the UK market to accept driving licences or other means of identity instead of a passport in view of the ongoing work to rule at the passport office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20859/10]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Micheál Martin): As the Deputy is aware there is no legal requirement for Irish citizens to have a passport for travel from Ireland to Britain. The Common Travel Area is a passport-free zone between the two islands. The area’s internal borders are subject to minimal or non-existent border controls and can normally be crossed by Irish and British citizens with only minimal identity documents. The maintenance of the area involves considerable co-operation on immigration matters between the British and the Irish authorities.
In light of the present delays in the issuing of Irish passports, officials of my Department made contact with the airlines flying between Ireland and Britain and all but one, Ryanair will accept a driver’s licence, as evidence of identity for travel to Britain. Ryanair informed my Department that this is their policy for travel on all of their routes across Europe and that they will not be relaxing this policy. They said that they have received representations from other EU Member States in the past to change this requirement and that they had refused these requests and therefore will not change their policy for flights between Ireland and Britain.
British or Irish customers under the age of 16 who are travelling with an adult on the same booking do not need photographic identification to travel to/from the Republic of Ireland but it is advisable that they have some form of identification for example a birth certificate, bus pass or student ID.
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