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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Lamiat Sabin

Airlines must allow European visitors to travel to UK on ID cards, says watchdog

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Some airlines are unnecessarily stopping European travellers from travelling to the UK due to a misunderstanding of post-Brexit travel rules, a watchdog has said.

In several cases, airlines have demanded that travellers show proof of British residency under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and have refused to accept valid European national ID cards for travel, according to the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA).

The rejected customers have included EU citizens, as well as those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – non-EU countries that are in Europe’s Schengen Area.

These European citizens’ right to use their national ID cards for travel is protected by the withdrawal agreement agreed between the UK and EU during Brexit negotiations.

The IMA has written an open letter to all airlines to remind them of the Home Office’s guidance, which states that European citizens can use either their national ID cards or passports to travel to the UK.

Pam Everett, IMA’s director of operational delivery, said: “As the summer holidays start in earnest, we are concerned that incorrect procedures followed by airline carriers will cause unnecessary stress, even resulting in families missing their holiday.

“We hope this letter to carriers will remind them to ensure their staff are aware of the guidance from the Home Office in relation to citizens’ entitlement to travel.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with the Home Office about the EUSS and rights of entry to the UK.”

In its guidance, the Home Office says: “Carriers are not currently required to check an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen’s immigration status, or their entitlement to travel on a national identity card, when deciding whether to bring them to the UK.

“They only need to check that they have a valid passport or national identity card.”

The IMA is funded by – but independent from – the UK government.

It says it seeks to “protect the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens, and their family members, living in the UK and Gibraltar.”

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