The joints in an assembled structure represent a significant source of energy dissipation and may lead to overall stiffness variation, which may affect high cycle fatigue failure. Many approaches have been developed to model and simulate the dynamics of bolted joint structures. However, the inherent dynamics of the contact interfaces still need further investigation in order to be able to generate accurate models to predict the behaviour in the contact interface. In this paper, the modelling of the contact interface of a bolted lap-joint and the prediction of its pressure distribution are considered using 2D and 3D FE models. A 3D finite element model with solid elements is developed to simulate the behaviour of the contact interface. The model is a modified thin-layer element where the material properties of a thin layer are distributed over the contact interface. Due to the high computational cost of the 3D model, a reduced-order model is proposed for the lap-joint in which beam elements are used. The material properties are introduced in these models to account for the variability in the contact parameters. Finally, experimental modal properties were used to identify the joint parameters. A good agreement is obtained between the detailed model and the reduced-order model in the prediction of the pressure distribution in the contact interface.