Everything you need to know about Ryanair’s visa check requirement

Jan 28, 2020

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If you’re flying with Ryanair on a non-EU/EEA passport, you need to be aware of the airline’s unusual and frustrating visa check requirement.

If you are travelling on an EU/EEA passport, then you can use Ryanair’s app to check-in and use a digital boarding pass. However, if you are travelling with any other passport, you must:

  • Physically print your boarding pass
  • Find a ground staff member before passing through security (i.e. at the check-in or airport services desks)
  • Have this staff member check you have the right to enter the country you are flying to with the passport on your booking, then they will physically sign the boarding pass with a visa check stamp or write the equivalent on the boarding pass.

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Other European low-cost airlines like EasyJet, Norwegian and Wizz Air do not have this requirement — EasyJet has a fantastic app for all passengers to use digital boarding passes. Why? It’s to do with the legal obligation Ryanair has if a passenger does not have entry rights to the country they are flying to.

As I unfortunately found out myself when I recently flew to Pakistan, if you land in a country and do not have the right to enter it, the airline that flew you there is responsible for flying you back to where you came from.

Ryanair likely does not want to the cost or logistical difficulties of this happening, so it checks each passenger has the right to enter before the plane even takes off. Many airlines will check certain passengers for visas at the gate, but Ryanair — being an ultra low-cost airline — forces all non-EU/EEA passengers to do this themselves, even if they don’t need a visa to enter the country.

Related: What happens when you land in a country without entry rights?

(Photo by JannHuizenga/Getty Images)
(Photo by JannHuizenga/Getty Images)

I travel on an Australian passport and don’t need a visa to fly to most destinations Ryanair flies to. It’s certainly frustrating that I need to remember to find a ground crew member before security for them to perform a pretty pointless “check” — they usually barely glance at my passport before scribbling on the boarding pass. It’s also annoying that it means I can’t use the Ryanair app to check-in and need to print my boarding pass — a particular pain if I’m abroad and need to beg a hotel or landlord to print it for me or pay at an internet cafe for the privilege.

Related: How strict is Ryanair with its hand luggage allowance?

Ryanair has had this requirement for years, and it’s unlikely to change any time soon. Here are some tips to minimise the frustration:

  • If you need a visa check, it will clearly say so on your boarding pass.
  • Check-in staff can perform the visa check. Otherwise look for any employee in Ryanair uniforms — at big bases like London Stansted (STN), there will be ground staff directing passengers into different check-in queues. You can ask them if they can perform a visa check.
  • There may also be a third party ground-handling agent like Menzies that can do this for you — look for a Ryanair logo at its desk.
  • If you do forget to do the check before passing through security, explain your predicament to staff at the gate and ask nicely if they can do it there and then. In my experience, they will usually do if for you

Bottom line

If you flying with a non-EU/EEA passport, the check-in requirement by Ryanair can be a bit overwhelming, but this handy guide should hopefully answers all your questions.

Featured image by  Neal/Staff/Gettys Images

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