Advance Passenger Information
For security reasons, the US, most EU member states, and other countries now require airlines to provide details about their passengers before they travel. This is known as Advance Passenger Information (API).
Your airline will let you know what they need from you. Usually, they will ask you to provide these details when you book your flight or check in. Contact your airline if you have any questions about API requirements.
Providing your API should not be confused with applying for a visa. You will still need to follow the entry rules for every country you visit, as well as any customs and passport control regulations.
- Foreign travel advice (GOV.UK website)
- Travel advice (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website)
Registering your API
Your airline will usually ask you to give the information found on the photo page of your passport or, if travelling within Europe, your national identity card.
You may be asked for your:
- full name
- date of birth
- type of travel document (passport or identity card)
- passport or identity card number
- country that issued your passport or identity card
- date of expiry of your passport or identity card
Your information will be taken either at the time of booking or by an automated passport reader during check-in. In most cases, you may not be allowed to travel if you do not provide your API in the time required.
Travelling to the US and registering with ESTA
Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), anyone travelling to the US on a British passport needs to register their details online with the US government, using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). This is separate from providing API to your airline.
You can find out more about the US Visa Waiver Program at these links:
- Foreign travel advice - USA (GOV.UK website)
- Visa Waiver Program: Passport Requirements Timeline (US Department of Homeland Security)
The US Department for Homeland Security suggests that registration take place no less than 72 hours before travelling. However, you can send your details any time before travelling to the US.
British passport holders who have not registered on ESTA before their trip will not be able to board their flight.
If travelling on an Irish passport, you can find information about visas on the US Embassy in Ireland website.
Who to contact about travelling to the US
Travelling to other countries (apart from the US)
As the list of countries asking for advance passenger information grows, it is not possible to list the complete details of all their requirements here.
If you are unsure about what you need, you can:
- check with the country’s consulate or embassy
- check the travel advice for that country
- contact your airline before you travel – ideally at the time of booking
- Consulates and embassies