Ryanair customers who must produce their passport as a form of identification for travel will be relieved to hear that the airline will accept the new Irish Passport Card when it’s introduced later this month.
At present, the airline insists that Irish passengers travel with a valid passport even though Aer Lingus and CityJet only require a driver’s licence.
The carrier has now confirmed that it will accept the new credit-card-sized passport as an approved form of identification.
While there is no legal requirement for Irish and UK citizens to have a passport when travelling between the two areas, airlines and ferry companies require some form of identification and some regard a passport as the only valid identification.
The new Irish Passport Card will, which will supplement but not replace existing book passports, costs €35 and will be available to all Irish citizens who are over 18 and hold a valid Irish passport.
The credit-card-sized passport is designed to fit in a wallet or purse, and will be accepted for travel within the EU and the European Economic Area.
Confirming that Ryanair will accept the new Passport Card, a spokeswoman said: “Our long standing policy and as an airline operating across 30 markets, is that a passport is the most widely recognised travel document across Europe. It is each customer’s responsibility to carry a travel document which meets the requirements of Ryanair, immigration and other authorities.”
While there have been some high profile cases of passengers arriving at airports without their passport and being refused travel by Ryanair, the airline says it isn’t generally a problem.
“The overwhelming majority of Ryanair customers abide by the terms and conditions of travel as agreed to at the time of booking and travel without issue,” Ryanair has said.
Earlier this year, international rugby referee Nigel Owens was left behind at Bristol Airport after he claimed he didn’t realise he needed a passport to travel to Ireland with Ryanair.
Aer Lingus Regional jumped to Mr Owens’ rescue and flew him to Dublin in time to referee the Guinness Pro-12 clash of Leinster and Zebre.
He later tweeted: “By the way I don’t expect nor want to be treated any different and respect the Ryanair policy. But a bit of common sense for all is needed.”
Announced in January by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, who gave a target date for availability of July 2015, the launch date has been delayed until the end of September because of issues with the card’s ‘durability.’
According to the Department of Foreign Affair: “Time is required to improve the durability of the card it was necessary to alter the polycarbonate structure of the card.”