Do you need a passport to go to Scotland?

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If you’re traveling around the UK at any point you’re going to be passing through a number of counties since the UK includes 4 different ones: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

One of the questions I got asked a lot was whether you need a passport to go to Scotland. It’s a good question and the answer will depend on where you’re traveling from.

In short, if you’re flying from overseas then yes you do need a passport. If you’re travelling internally in the UK then you don’t need one, although you might need some form of identification. An exception to this is ferries to Northern Ireland.

uk passports on table

While Scotland is it’s own country, it’s part of the United Kingdom when it comes to international travel and as such it’s treated as a whole with the rest of the UK.

If you’re a citizen of the UK then you can travel freely around which includes traveling to Scotland.

Do you need a passport when flying to Scotland?

Flying in to Scotland is a little bit of a more formal way of travelling than other options.

If you’re traveling to Scotland from overseas then you will definitely need an in date passport. Often having 6 months of date is preferable and sometimes a visa is needed but it’s worth checking for your individual circumstances and entry requirements.

Traveling to Scotland by plane from other airports located in the UK, such as London, is still classed as an internal flight. Internal flight passengers do NOT need a passport.

Most airlines will require you to have some form of photo identification before boarding and many people will use a passport for that. You could also use a driving licence (with photo), ID card or similar.

It’s always worth checking with the airline before heading to the airport as to what they will require.

Sign at Scotland border on road
Scotland border on A1 main road on the East coast by Berwick

Traveling to Scotland overland by train or car – do you need a passport at the border?

So flights are a little different as I mentioned. They have much more strict security and need to know who is flying so ID is almost always needed. But what if you’re traveling to Scotland from England by train? Or in a car or bus?

I’ve done this route so many times over the years and you’ll be pleased to know that there is no need for showing passports at the border between England and Scotland. In fact there is no border control at all between the two countries.

As you drive north, or south, you’ll see a sign that welcomes you to the country and that is all. No fanfare, no stops, no checks. In fact it’s very similar to driving across states in the US.

There might be a piper though – depends which road you cross the border at! I like to cross on the A68 road, there’s a very nice ceremonial rock to get your photo taken at. Often you’ll find a piper there and with the wonderful views it’s a very nice border crossing. Still no passport checks though!

Scotland England border

Do you need a passport on the ferry between Northern Ireland and Scotland?

This one is a little bit different. Northern Ireland and Scotland are both technically in the UK but the ferries that travel between them have different rules.

If you’re a UK or Ireland citizen then you don’t need a passport at all but would need some form of identification. This is due to the common travel rules between the two countries.

If you’re do not have a UK or Ireland passport then you will need to have a passport. (Source)

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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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