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Under what circumstances can a UK citizen travel to a country in the Schengen area without a passport?

My understanding is that because the UK does not have national ID cards, it is not possible, but work colleagues assert that a driving license would be sufficient.

I have experience of re-entering the UK on the Eurostar without a passport, but suspect that it would not be possible to leave.

  • Do you mean travel within the Schengen area, or enter the Schengen area? (I'm not sure, perhaps these cases would have different answers) – walter Mar 29 '18 at 9:17
  • Mostly interested in travel to the area from UK - clarified question. – Mark Perryman Mar 29 '18 at 9:19
  • Pretty good question! The Wikipedia page en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… states "However, when travelling within the Schengen Area or Common Travel Area, other valid identity documentation (such as a driving licence or EHIC card) is often sufficient" and gives a source, but at the source europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/entry-exit/eu-citizen/… there is nothing to support this claim. They have an example stating that with a document that is only used nationally as a for of ID, you "could get in trouble with the police". – DCTLib Mar 29 '18 at 9:22
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    A driver licence doesn't prove one's citizenship. It just can not be sufficient. – Neusser Mar 29 '18 at 9:24
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    @MarkPerryman technically it's not the leaving that's the problem (the UK doesn't have exit controls), but the entering of the Schengen area. For Eurostar, it just so happens that the paperwork for that bit happens at St. Pancras. – origimbo Mar 29 '18 at 17:08
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As a UK citizen, only a passport is sufficient as a travel document, as the UK does not have ID cards.

Specifically, driving licences do not establish nationality.

If you are an EU national, you do not need to show your national ID card or passport when you are travelling from one border-free Schengen EU country to another.

[...]

Driving licences, post, bank or tax cards are not accepted as valid travel documents or proof of identity.

[...]

When travelling to or from a non-Schengen country you must show a valid ID or passport. Before travelling, check what documents you must have to travel outside your home country and to enter the non-Schengen country you plan to visit.

europa.eu

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    This may well be the correct answer (it is certainly my understanding), but the quoted page is about travelling between Schengen countries, and not from the UK into Schengen. The second point doesn't hold for travel e.g. UK <-> Ireland, so I don't know that it can be assumed to hold in this case. – Mark Perryman Mar 29 '18 at 9:44
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    @MarkPerryman I have also quoted now the part of that page that clarifies that you need a valid ID or passport when entering the Schengen area. Neither the UK nor Ireland are in Schengen, so none of that page applies to travel within/between them. – walter Mar 29 '18 at 9:48
  • Thanks. The page is "Travel documents for EU nationals" under "Documents you need for travel in Europe", so it should include the non-Schengen countries. – Mark Perryman Mar 29 '18 at 9:50
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    Ok, you're right about that, it is a bit confusing. I think in the Common Travel Area it is not necessary for UK/Irish citizens to have ID documents (once inside the area). So it doesn't really matter if a driving licence is an ID, because you don't need an ID. – walter Mar 29 '18 at 9:54
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    @MarkPerryman EU law sets maximum requirements that EU and Schengen states may apply to each other's citizens. A country can require EU citizens to have a passport or national ID, but it doesn't have to. The country isn't required to require a travel document, in other words. So Ireland and the UK can allow EU citizens to cross between them with a DL or even without any document if they want to. The document walter quotes describes the maximum requirements because those are in place almost everywhere. – phoog Mar 29 '18 at 12:07

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