UK-EU dual national. Worth getting the EU passport or is ID card enough?
August 9, 2022 1:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm British by birth, but have recently been granted Portuguese nationality. After spending many painful hours in the embassy, I now have a Portuguese identity card. Should I bother getting a passport as well?

As I understand it, if I'm travelling from the UK to the EU, I can do this: show my British passport in the UK. Once I land, show my Portuguese identity card. Leaving, show my Portuguese identity card and then when I land in the UK show my British passport. This way I get no stamps in my passport (they're stamped only on the EU side) and can stay in the EU indefinitely.

Would this work? Am I right in thinking one can enter the EU on an EU identity card alone? Regardless, is it worth sucking it up and taking a day off work to get a Portuguese passport proper?
posted by osmond_nash to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What? Get the passport and you can stay in the EU forever, no worries about passport stamps. 100% get the passport.

also there are shorter airport lines
posted by DarlingBri at 1:50 AM on August 9, 2022 [8 favorites]

In all honesty, I’d always get a passport over an identity card, unless there is a legal requirement in Portugal to have one, even if you’re not living in Portugal. Whilst the EU allows people to travel on national ID cards (because they have rules about reciprocity of recognition of national ID) your Portuguese ID card would not be recognised universally outside the EU. Your passport would be recognised as ID everywhere you go. If you never go outside the UK/EU it may not make a difference.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:03 AM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

One day of leave in order to get a passport that grants you the freedom of Europe for ten years? Bargain. Also, there may be (now or in the future) countries outside the EU that are more enthusiastic about EU passports than British ones.

But yes, the Portuguese Citizen Card lets you travel anywhere in Europe (except for Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and the UK), plus a small handful of other places.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:11 AM on August 9, 2022

Would this work? Am I right in thinking one can enter the EU on an EU identity card alone?

Theoretically this is true, and you don't need a Portuguese passport in addition - plenty of people in the EU don't have and don't need one for travel. However, there can be issues with stuff like the automatic passport scanners not recognising them and things like that, so I would advise getting one anyway.

(There may also be a limited number of countries outside the EU where a Portuguese passport is more useful than a UK one too, or at least seen to be better.)
posted by scorbet at 2:13 AM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Adding to scorbet's comment, here's an example where an EU ID card was not enough:
Right now, Polish dowód osobisty [ID card] allows you to travel passport-free within the Schengen zone in Europe. In theory, at least – I was denied boarding once when traveling from Sweden to Spain with my dowód osobisty. The woman at the check-in desk thought that since Swedes need passports to travel within the Schengen zone (government issued ID cards are not mandatory in Sweden), the same must apply to other EU nationalities as well.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:40 AM on August 9, 2022

Best answer: I flew into Portugal with only my ID card. In Lisbon airport there were two lines:
1) EU Passport holders that could whiz through the e-gates
2) Everyone else

This "Everyone Else" include Americans, Brits, Africans etc. and of course those of us with only ID cards. So we waited for about an hour whereas we would have been through the e-gates in 5 minutes.

As others have said, airlines in other countries may require a Passport before they let you board. I've never tried boarding a plane from the US with only my EU ID but I would not guarantee that they would accept that since the Passport is the true International document whereas the ID card is strictly intra-EU.

If you plan to stay in the UK then yes, you can enter the EU with your ID card and stay there indefinitely too since you are after all an EU citizen. What the Passport does is make International travel easier and, as I illustrated above, even intra-EU travel more efficient.

Note for some people in the thread: In Portugal at least it is mandatory to get the ID card before applying for a Passport so ID card is not optional for the OP. The question is how urgent is it to go on to the next step of getting the Passport. I'd actually say not super-urgent but should be done.
posted by vacapinta at 3:46 AM on August 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Definitely worth it for the e-gates alone. If you travel at rush hour it can save you an hour per trip into the Schengen zone, as well as into Ireland.

Having two passports can also come in handy when travelling in the Middle East - there are still countries that look askance at entry stamps from other countries (Israel and Iran are two of the "red flag" stamps to others in the region). You still need to go to a third neutral country in the middle, but showing up on another country's passport is a time-honoured way to circumvent that.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:22 AM on August 9, 2022

The UK recently required passports over ID cards for entry, I am a dual UK-EU national and on my next trip I am renewing my British passport which involves leaving the old one in the UK, meaning the following trip I will enter the UK with my EU nationality to collect my new passport from my parents house, this is only possible since I have a passport in addition to an ID card. (You can pay extra and renew from abroad but since I travel home regularly I’m doing it this way).
posted by ellieBOA at 5:00 AM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: > What? Get the passport and you can stay in the EU forever

I can stay in the EU forever with the ID card alone.

> One day of leave in order to get a passport that grants you the freedom of Europe for ten years? Bargain.

Again, it seems that the ID card already grants this. The one day of leave also entails a multi-month wait to get an appointment at the embassy, and then a hellish day spent in a room full of howling kids, plus spending a bunch of money - hence my desire to avoid it if there's no benefit.


Thanks all (especially vacapinta who helped me get to this point)! Sounds like the ID card does do what I want, but that it's worth applying for the passport to benefit from e-gates and avoid overzealous border control agents.
posted by osmond_nash at 7:08 AM on August 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Quick update for anyone interested - my citizen card arrived, which allows me to book an appointment at the embassy to get a passport. The online service (which just says “no appointments available, try later”…) confirms:

> The Citizen Card allows you to travel and reside throughout the European Union, without the need for a passport. You can also visit, only with your Citizen Card, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, EFTA & EEA states.
posted by osmond_nash at 6:46 AM on August 19, 2022

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