The valid means of identification needed for air travel in Nigeria

Before you travel, you are going to need some basic documents which will be needed at some point during your trip. They include the following:

Means of identification

This is an identity document that has personal information of the bearer.

In air travel, a valid means of identification is a basic travel document for domestic and international flights. This is the first and most important travel document to acquire.

For domestic flights, any valid means of identification is allowed for check-in and boarding, provided it is a valid and genuine means of identification.

Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • National id: This is a portable card made of plastic which carries a unique national identity number used to identify a bearer. It is issued by the government of many countries for tracking and keeping record of their citizens. The body in charge of Nigerian national identity card is National Identity Management Commission. Read more at
  1. International passport: This is issued by the government to its citizens for international travel and identification. It is used to exit and regain entry into one’s country of citizenship.

ECOWAS Travel Certificate: This is a common passport document for countries in West Africa. It is valid for travel within the Economic Community of West African States. These countries include: Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Cape Verde, and Sierra Leone.

The body in charge of issuing international passports and the ECOWAS Travel Certificate is The Nigerian Immigration Service. Find out more at

  • Voter’s card: The Permanent Voter’s card enables registered voters exercise their civic rights to vote in the General Elections. This can also be used as an identity document in domestic travel.
  • Student identity card: This is applicable to travelers who are minors. A valid school’s identity card is acknowledged.
  • Work identity card: This is issued by one’s place of employment and it applies when the standard means of identity are not within reach. This must be valid and not worn out for easy facial recognition.
  • Driver’s license: This is an official document permitting an individual to drive a motor vehicle. It is also an acceptable form of identity for domestic travel.

A means of identification should include the following information:

  1. Photograph: This is the most important part as it carries the bearer’s facial identification. Passengers may face excessive scrutiny and delay in boarding or even disallowed to board a flight if their identity document does not carry their photo or does not match their face. The photograph on an identity card links the document with its bearer.
  2. Full names which should be in standard formats. That is; Surname _ first name _ middle name OR First name _ middle name _ surname. It is important to ensure that name tallies with the other travel documents to prove ownership of the bearer.

Some complications could arise  due to the number of one’s names. An Example is a bearer who has four names. While processing your travel documents, clearly state your first name & surname for clarity. Same caution applies for compound names.

3. Identification number: Every means of identification has a unique number assigned to it. These unique digits make it easy for the document to be renewed in the case of theft or misplacement. It is important to be conversant with this number in case of an emergency.

4. Date of birth: This is an important factor  that determines the bearer’s eligibility for document procurement. It also entitles the bearer to some offers where applicable. Examples include discounted air fares for infants and children or meal preference for minors and the elderly.

 For domestic travel, where a parent is traveling with a minor of less than 2years, it is ideal to  have the child’s birth certificate to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the child is actually the acclaimed age.

5. Place of Origin: This gives further information about the bearer‘s State / Local Government Area of origin.

6. Contact Address: This is also important as it used to trace bearer in the case of documents misplacement.

7. Expiry date: Means of identification  usually have validity period. It is important to note this date of expiration so it can be renewed on time. A means of identification should be valid for at least six month prior to travel date−this rule is peculiar to international travel.

8. Gender: This allows clear identification of bearer’s gender.

Other information may include; information about next of kin, place of document issue etc.

ATM cards and other forms of utility bills are debatable means of identity as it carries no photograph or basic information about the holder except a name. It is not an option for a means of identity.

Are you planning for an upcoming trip? Then it is time to ensure that all your documents are complete, valid and ready to rock and roll! And remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins, not with a step this time, but with a valid document!

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Vivian Etefia

Written by Vivian Etefia

From years of experience, i noticed most people have limited access to relatable basic travel information: the wheres, whys & hows of travel & hospitality.
This blog seeks to address these issues. Let me inspire you into the world of travel.
I am Vivian Etefia. A travel operator based in Lagos, Nigeria.