When Ryanair tells you to do something, you’d better do it. Notorious for zero-tolerance and lack of empathy, if you don’t follow their instructions to the letter, you’ll pay a penalty. It may seem unfair, but this is how they’re able to offer such low prices. Other airlines can be more forgiving, but you’ll pay in the form of more expensive base ticket prices. So it’s up to you to pick your poison, so to speak.

When flying Ryanair, every passenger on every flight must check-in online in advance to avoid a £30/£55 airport check-in fee. If you’re issued with a boarding pass after checking in, you have two options – you can either access it using the Ryanair app or print out a hard copy. If you can’t do either of these, you’ll have to pay a £20 boarding card re-issue fee at the airport. Also, if you’re flying from Turkey, Morocco, Israel, Lebanon, or Kefalonia, you must print your boarding pass as these countries / airports don’t accept mobile boarding passes.

However, not everyone is issued with a boarding pass after check-in. For example, non-EU citizens can only get a boarding pass at the airport. When checking in using the app, you’ll get a massive warning telling you that you must print the boarding pass after check-in. But here’s the problem, you don’t get a boarding pass – just a screen that says “This is not a mobile boarding pass. Please go to the ticket desk to print out your boarding pass.“, and there’s no ability to print anything.

If you log into the website, you’ll be greeted with the following message: “Passengers on this booking who are travelling with Non-EU ID documents will be required to print their boarding pass and present it at the ticket desk to have their documents checked and stamped upon arrival at the airport“. Unlike the app, you have the ability to download/print the “boarding pass”. However, on the document in massive bold writing is stated “THIS IS NOT A BOARDING CARD. Go to ticket desk for visa/document check & boarding card“.

So here’s the million dollar question. Do we, or do we not, need to print this “not a boarding card” document? We’re warned that we must print our boarding pass, but we don’t have a boarding pass – just a random document that isn’t a boarding pass.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching this. Here are some threads you can peruse yourself:

None of these threads answer definitively whether it’s safe to arrive at the airport without a printed copy of this document.

So I went ahead and tried it myself. First from Manchester to Wrocław, then back again. In both cases, I got away without having to print the THIS IS NOT A BOARDING CARD pdf, but I did have to open the Ryanair app to prove I checked in.

Combining this experience with others on the internet, I can find a few examples where people didn’t print this document and were OK, but I haven’t found an example where someone was forced to pay the £20 boarding card re-issue fee for not printing it. So you’ll probably be ok if you don’t print it, as long as you can prove you checked in on the Ryanair app. But if you have access to a printer, we’d recommend just printing it to avoid the anxiety.

Ryanair could really do with updating their website / app to explain this situation a bit better for the thousands of non-EU citizens who fly on their planes every day. Until then, the best we can do is learn from anecdotal experiences.