8

My passport is currently with UK passport office being renewed, and I urgently need to travel to the UK. I have been issued an emergency travel document which allows me to enter the UK, and they will not return it at border control, so it is only valid for one one-way trip. I understand I can re-enter the US with my green card alone, but will I be able to leave the UK without my British passport? I have called the US embassy (no help at all), the airline said it was not up to them and to check with the respective government agencies, but I cannot seem to get a straight answer!

9
  • 4
    Can you be more specific about what you mean by "will I be able to leave the UK without my British passport?". The UK does not have immigration officers doing passport checks when leaving - or are you referring to the airline checking that you'll be allowed to enter the US before allowing you to board the flight from the UK?
    – brhans
    Jun 29, 2023 at 15:06
  • 1
    Which airline would you be travelling with? How would you complete Advanced Passenger Information without a passport? Try inputting your full trip details into the IATA website iatatravelcentre.com
    – Traveller
    Jun 29, 2023 at 15:52
  • 3
    There is no "passport check" in London. As long as you have some acceptable way of identifying yourself which matches your boarding pass, security in London will allow you through.
    – brhans
    Jun 29, 2023 at 18:16
  • 4
    @brhans UK security doesn't check ID
    – Crazydre
    Jun 29, 2023 at 18:34
  • 1
    If you decide to proceed, it'd be great if you can share how to went in an answer.
    – yeputons
    Jun 30, 2023 at 8:56

3 Answers 3

10

As far as the US government is concerned, a green card holder does not need a passport to enter the US. See this CBP answer:

United States (U.S.) LPRs do not need a passport to enter the U.S. as per 8 CFR 211.1(a)

The US government allows airlines to board green card holders for travel to the US without a passport. See the CBP carrier information guide, page 28:

A Lawful Permanent Resident may travel to the United States without a passport with a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551).

Since the UK does not have physical exit immigration checks for departing passengers, the only people who will stop you from traveling to the US is the airline. Just because the airline is allowed to let you board you without a passport, doesn't mean they have to let you board without a passport. So asking the airline is the right thing to do.

I don't know why the airline didn't give you a straight answer when you asked them. Perhaps you are phrasing the question wrong. Rather than asking whether you will be able to leave the UK or enter the US (which sound like things to do with the immigration agencies), you should specifically be asking whether the airline will allow you to board the international flight to the US without a passport.


Another possibility I haven't mentioned is that perhaps the UK has regulations on airlines to require departing passengers to have passports. Maybe someone can check whether this is the case.

10
  • 8
    "I don't know why the airline didn't give you a straight answer when you asked them" Because virtually no customer-facing airline department ever does; they normally say "call the embassy". Basically claiming there's no such thing as handling agents ever being misinformed about anything, which is far from the truth. So the ones to be consulted is the handling agent at the departure airport
    – Crazydre
    Jun 29, 2023 at 18:31
  • 3
    -1 because "contact the airline" almost never works. You need to consult Timatic or talk to the handling agent directly, the airline itself won't tell you anything in advance.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 29, 2023 at 18:55
  • 6
    And if the airline remains stubborn, you can use an airport with US Preclearance such as Dublin or Shannon. US Preclearance Guide and Preclearance facility | Dublin Airport Jun 29, 2023 at 20:19
  • 3
    I've never done pre-clearance in Ireland, but in Canada, you only get to the pre-clearance folks after you've checked in with the airline.
    – Flydog57
    Jun 30, 2023 at 2:21
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson you need a boarding pass to enter the preclearance area - if the airline issues it to you successfully online, you're indeed good to go. But if you have checked luggage they'll demand to see your passport by default - and sometimes online check-in simply refuses to do it in advance.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 30, 2023 at 4:44
9

Yes, you can 100% enter the US on your green card. The handling agent should coonsult TIMATIC, putting UK as the nationality and US as residence, whereby the "Permanent resident card" will appear as a "Passport exemption".

What route is it you're planning to fly? Then I can tell you what handling agent in the UK to contact, as they'll be the ones to board you.

UPDATE: bring a printout of the email you got from GGS, just in case.

12
  • 6
    Be warned: Timatic currently says for "UK citizen without ID document but US green card" requires a passport and should not be allowed boarding. If I pick "UK citizen with emergency passport and US green card" then it shows the passport exemption. This is very likely to confuse boarding staff (who will likely try the former option) and you not likely to be allowed boarding. Notably the "UK citizen with birth certificate and US green card" shows the passport exemption as well, so you might want to take your birth certificate just to make them search for that on Timatic.
    – ave
    Jun 30, 2023 at 10:00
  • 2
    @ave Just checked: for me it shows "Passport Exemptions: Passengers with a Permanent Resident/Resident Alien Card (Form I-551)." Nothing else. What interface are you using? Any chance you could upload a screenshot? if so I can alert the TIMATIC sourcing manager (whom I liaise with)
    – Crazydre
    Jun 30, 2023 at 13:40
  • here you go: i.imgur.com/jEAdnk9.png, I'm using the timaticweb2 interface.
    – ave
    Jun 30, 2023 at 14:40
  • @crazydre flying BA from Tampa to London Gatwick
    – scar5648
    Jun 30, 2023 at 17:31
  • 1
    @scar5648 And the same route back I suppose? Then it's Gatwick Ground Services (GGS) who will check you. Try [email protected] (Pete Wyatt being the operations manager) and tell him this: you don't have a passport, but do have a US Permanent resident card (I-551) which is sufficient to enter the US. Explain that if he were to check TIMATIC, putting UK nationality, US alien residency (important!) and US destination, the I-551 card will show as a passport exemption. Ask him to confirm if he's aware of this so you don't get wrongfully denied boarding on BA to Tampa
    – Crazydre
    Jul 1, 2023 at 16:10
7

I have done this before.

It can be a real hassle, but it is doable.

Leaving the UK, I had to be patient, but insistent with the check-in agent. I had to wait for a supervisor of some sort to come and confirm that I could board.

Arriving in the US, you may have similar issues. I had not trouble at the time, but this spring I had an immigration officer request my passport after I handed him my green card.

Give yourself a tonne of extra time in the UK and be prepared to stand around for a long time. The law is on your side, just keep patient, be very polite and assert your rights.

3
  • OP has got an email from the handler at Gatwick confirming she's OK.
    – Crazydre
    Jul 7, 2023 at 1:57
  • @Crazydre The trip back to the US was uneventful. I presented my green card with a copy of my emergency passport at check in. No issues. The only issue with security was they had to search my hand luggage. Upon entry to the US, they did not even ask for my green card. They had me look into a camera, asked if I was S****, checked my fingerprints, and off I went. Even our suitcases came through quickly. Thank you for all of your help! It seems I worked myself up about nothing!
    – scar5648
    Jul 20, 2023 at 12:31
  • 1
    @scar5648 "It seems I worked myself up about nothing" No you didn't; MANY handling agents would've denied you boarding, and the GGS supervisor I spoke to said he was baffled by the scenario and had to check with the CBP liaison team at Heathrow before they emailed you their reply. So definitely the reason it went smoothly for you was because you had them look into it in advance
    – Crazydre
    Jul 20, 2023 at 14:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .