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What identity documents are required for air travel?

In order to use air transport, whether within or outside France, travellers are required to present a variety of supporting documents. Depending on age, nationality and flight destination, travel formalities may differ. So what identity documents are required for air travel? Let's take a look at the different situations that can arise.
Published on April 27, 2023

Why is it so important to check the required documents before travelling by plane?

Various administrative documents are required when you check in at the airport counter. If you fail to present them, you may simply be denied boarding by the airline.

It's a good idea to check the validity of your identity documents before purchasing your tickets at booking . It can take a very long time to obtain a renewal. And when packing your bags, these essential documents should be carefully placed in your hand luggage, along with your booking or electronic ticket number.

Additional documents may be required in certain situations, such as a medical certificate for pregnant women, or a vaccination certificate for travel to certain transit countries.

Depending on your destination, you'll need to check with your consulate to obtain a visa in good time.

French citizens: what identity documents do I need to fly?

For a trip to France

The identity of each passenger is checked at check-in, whether they are over 18 or under 18. For a flight from France to a French city, it is therefore imperative to present :

Depending on the airline, a driver's license is sometimes tolerated if the photo is recognizable.

Please note that a valid passport is required if you are traveling overseas via a foreign country or Saint-Martin international airport.

For travel to a European Union country that is a member of the Schengen area

French nationals traveling by air to a European Union country that is a member of the Schengen area must be able to show :

  • A valid French national identity card
  • Or a valid passport

Please note that we will not accept proof of an application to renew an identity card or passport. This is a temporary document that does not include a photo.

For travel outside the EU to a Schengen member country

Some countries outside the European Union are also members of the Schengen area, which allows the free movement of people. These include Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

If you are flying to one of these countries, the police may carry out an identity check at the border. French citizens must be able to show a valid national identity card or passport.

For a trip to another country

For air travel to countries outside the European Union and the Schengen area, a national identity card is not sufficient. A valid passport is essential.

Good to know: some countries require that the period of validity exceed the date of the return flight. In these cases, it's best to check directly with the embassy of the country in question.

Some destinations also require a tourist or work visa, either for a short or long stay. To ensure your peace of mind when embarking on your trip, please consult the Travel Advice section of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

The special case of underage travellers

Special documentation is required for travelers under the age of majority. Whether a child is traveling alone or accompanied by one or both parents, the consulate of the destination or connecting country may require different entry and/or residence formalities.

As a precautionary measure, if the child does not bear the same name as the accompanying parent, it is advisable to bring the family record book or a birth certificate to prove the parent-child relationship.

All minors under the age of 18, French or foreign, residing in France, who travel outside France unaccompanied by a parent or guardian are required to provide an authorization to leave the country. This must be accompanied by a photocopy of a valid proof of identity of the parent signing the authorization.

Finally, the child must also have a valid identity card or passport in his or her own name. A child cannot appear on a parent's passport, and the family record book alone does not allow a minor to travel by air.

European nationals: what are the formalities for air travel?

Travel formalities for European nationals are much the same as those for French citizens.

  • In France: identity card or passport accepted
  • To a European Union country outside the Schengen area (such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Ireland or Romania): a passport is required.
  • To a European Union country that is a member of the Schengen area: here again, a passport is preferable.
  • To another country: a passport with sufficient validity to cover the return flight will be required, as well as a visa depending on the destination.

Citizens outside the Schengen area: what documents do I need to travel?

For nationals of other countries, specific conditions apply whether you are traveling by air to France, a European Union country or a member of the Schengen area.

In addition to a valid passport, which is required as proof of identity, a residence permit or visa must be applied for.