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Ryanair is notorious for requiring that all non-EU passengers go through a visa check at a landside check-in desk before their flight. However, do they actually deny boarding to passengers who ignore the visa check and proceed straight to the gate?

I'm not interested in what Ryanair's website, terms and conditions, or support agents have to say about this. The question is strictly about what's going to happen in practice.

I'm looking for ongoing examples, not just the 2018 ones.

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    Do you actually receive the boarding pass on online checkin, even if you have to do the visa check? Or do they only print the boarding pass after visa verification? I had a colleague, which needed to go to the desk, but i don't remember if he got the boarding pass before or after the check.
    – dunni
    Jul 23, 2018 at 7:29
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    @dunni you do get the boarding pass in advance, however it says "go to visa check" in big bold letters
    – JonathanReez
    Jul 23, 2018 at 7:30
  • I checked my last Ryanair boarding passes - there no "go to visa check" text. And o my last flights with Ryanair the personell at the visa check counter always said that I don't need to do it and I can go straight to the boarding gates. They do not stamp boarding passes so the personell has no way to know whether the passengers went through visa check or not. However, in most cases I had to show my visa at the boarding gates.
    – Neusser
    Jul 23, 2018 at 7:57
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    @Neusser "They do not stamp boarding passes" At BSL they do, often even for EU/Schengen citizens and always for others.
    – Crazydre
    Jul 23, 2018 at 8:58
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    I live in Spain. For national flights not necessary. For international flights (i.e. from Spain to the rest of Europe) it is necessary.
    – Jake
    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:09

8 Answers 8

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Update: as of 2023, RyanAir no longer issues boarding passes to non-EU/EEA passport holders on flights which cross Schengen borders at all, so you do need to go to the check-in desk to get your boarding pass. Thus the question no longer applies.

Below remains just for reference:

For the last several years I flew RyanAir, I have never had my boarding pass stamped (I have non-EU/EEA passport). I have never been refused boarding, and never seen anyone being refused boarding.

The typical RyanAir procedure depends on airport, and is one of the following:

  1. They scan everyone's non-EU passport regardless of whether one did check or not. This is typical at BER airport.

  2. They call non-EU passport holders who didn't get visa check to the gate agent before boarding, and scan your passport there.

  3. They walk along the line ready for boarding, and ask who has non-EU passports and didn't do check, sending us to the gate agent for the check.

Note that this check takes some time (10-30 seconds), and they do close the gate 30 minutes before departure; if you do so, try to arrive earlier than 30 minutes before the gate closure time.

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  • Could the system still be tricked by claiming to be an EU citizen to get a boarding pass?
    – JonathanReez
    Nov 5, 2023 at 4:19
  • Is there a reference for the added claim? Nov 5, 2023 at 7:33
  • It probably could be tricked, but I did not try.
    – George Y.
    Nov 6, 2023 at 5:34
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+250

This is anecdotal, but here's a forum post about someone who was denied boarding at Edinburgh in March 2018 for not obtaining a visa check stamp. However, another poster says that at Edinburgh in February, the gate agent gave non-EU passengers an opportunity to have their boarding passes stamped at the gate, so experiences vary.

It's clear that this requirement is not enforced consistently at all, but does appear to be enforced at least occasionally.

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    Probably safest to conclude that the local ground handlers make up their own policies in practice.
    – Crazydre
    Jul 31, 2018 at 23:24
  • In 2018 in Edinburgh I saw 2 American youngsters getting threatened if they did it again they would be denied but they were allowed that time. It was quite a traumatic experience for them.
    – malhal
    Nov 11, 2021 at 12:45
  • @malhal I got "threatened" as well when I did it back in 2019. I nodded my head and dismissed their threats entirely :-) But I guess its possible you could indeed be denied boarding in some cases, so this is a power move.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 2, 2022 at 19:29
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As a Non EEA/EU from London to Madrid it was not required, but from Madrid to London it was and we were denied boarding. We had to go through the whole inmigration and security check again. Lesson learned, if you have to print your BP and it says “visa check”, you have to get the stamp. Don’t play with it; we almost lost our flight because they were not allowing us to board.

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My family (2 adults and 2 kids under 6) was just denied boarding at the gate because of this Visa thing with Ryanair. The airport is Eindhoven. We hold American passports and are residents of the Netherlands. They didn't care. The gate person said this was just policy. They happily went through the effort to remove our 5 bags from the flight and offered to rebook us for free 4 days later.

It seems like approving a Visa at the gate would have been less effort. We are obviously not happy about it. We will not book Ryanair again.

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I suspect it varies from airport to airport and maybe even from flight to flight. My Ryanair boarding passes always say this must be done at the check-in desk before passing security. In Edinburgh in March 2018 I forgot to do it and nobody said anything about it. In Warsaw I tried to do it at the Ryanair check-in desk and they told me to do it at the gate.

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I got "Ryanair-ed" at Eindhoven today along with five other people - we were denied boarding, including two who had their luggage checked onto the plane. I guess you have to point it out, as staff at Eindhoven don't seem to know this fact when checking your passport, even though the Ryanair flight was in the next room. I arrived two hours early, got through security and passport control with no problem, and waited 30 minutes while the staff talked to each other. This was an hour before the flight. Someone even checked my boarding pass but didn't tell me I needed a special stamp until the plane arrived and they started boarding us. They set us aside and told us to wait, and they would check our documents if there was time. New Zealanders don't need a visa for the UK, and EasyJet knows this, so fly with them. They then said there was no time. I was rebooked four flights later at 9:25 PM the next day, and I suspect they use this as a means of "bumping" people off overbooked flights.

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At Basel, for flights to London-Stansted, it's done at the gate, with a Checkport (Swissport subsidary) agent verifying documents (which, however, isn't always done carefully - I've seen South Africans and Macedonians not being checked for a visa or exemption), before stamping the boarding pass (often even for EU/Schengen citizens), which is then shown at the final boarding check a few metres ahead.

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enter image description here You need it stamped at the counter even for domestic flights. I am South African and travelling from Scotland to England. This applies for all non-EU citizens. You have to pay an extra £3 to check in and print your boarding pass so that it can be signed (this only applies if you need to checking in 48hr before your flight)

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