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Travel: Ireland without a passport

For a while The Aviation Oracle travelled between the UK and Dublin in the Republic or Ireland on an almost weekly basis while working on a contract with the national TV and radio broadcaster RTE. The early Monday and late Friday flights were a pleasant short hop across the Irish Sea, and staying only four nights I rarely needed more than carry-on bags.

Common Travel Area

Journeys between the UK mainland and Dublin are entirely within the Common Travel Area (CTA), a zone established in 1922 to enable passport-free travel between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the Irish Republic. In theory, the CTA should make it possible to fly between Birmingham and the Irish capital without showing any documentation other than a boarding pass. In theory...

In these days of heightened security, identity checks have become an inevitable part of the air travel experience and the most practical way of satisfying the demands of the authorities is to carry a passport. However, a driving licence is typically an acceptable substitute when travelling domestically within the UK. My usual practice was to take a passport on my trips to Dublin, but one fateful Monday after reorganising one of my bags I left it at home. By the time I realised what I'd done I'd cut things too fine to return for it, so it became inevitable that I was going to put the theory of the CTA to the test. Undaunted, I resolved to carry on as planned but as I parked the car I began to wonder whether I might end up working from home.

Dublin without a passport

Departure from Birmingham was never going to be a problem. By then I knew the process well - direct to security (no bags to check-in) where a quick glance at my pre-printed boarding pass and driving licence would be more than adequate. Likewise, the return flight to the UK on Friday was going to be straight forward. Staff in Dublin never asked to see the passports of travellers departing to the UK and at Birmingham Airport there was a channel which enabled passengers from the ROI to bypass immigration (but not customs). No - I realised that the problem, if there was one, would arise when I laded in Dublin where passengers from the UK were invariably channeled through the standard Irish immigration checkpoints.

Will passports be mandatory for travel between the UK and Ireland after Brexit? (Stratforder)

'Have your passport out"

A couple of hours later the Aer Lingus Airbus A320 touched down on Irish soil and as I had anticipated, until then there had been not even the slightest query about me not showing a passport. Unusually the queue at the Irish boarder was lengthy and travellers from the UK were being mixed with customers who had just flown in from the USA and mainland Europe. There was a barker marshalling the lines: "Passports at the ready - have your passport out please."