This question is somewhat related to this one, but not quite the same.

I'm an Italian citizen currently living in the UK, and I'll be traveling to Spain in about a week (from Heathrow). My passport (which I always fly with, no matter where I go) is in the process of getting a visa, so I won't have access to it for this trip. My only option is to use my Italian ID card (which looks like this, and I have already used to enter the UK from Italy); will I have any problem going to Spain and / or back to the UK?

4 Answers 4


Yes you can use your italian ID.

In Spain you can enter with Italian ID, as written in this Spain travel website

If you are a citizen of a EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein, you will need a valid passport or ID card.

and regarding going back to UK, as written in UK gov website

You’re from an EEA country or Switzerland You can enter the UK with either a valid passport or a national identity card issued by a EEA country.


Today I had a bad episode. I am an Italian citizen with an Italian ID and I was travelling from Edinburgh, UK (where I live) to Alicante, Spain, and the police (at the spot where passports are checked) would not let me in! They asked to see another document, so I showed my driving license, the only other thing I had, but it still was not enough. The policeman went on shouting that I needed a passport to get in and finally exclaimed "I am doing you a favour for this time, go get a passport!".

I was speechless but glad I could get in. I have travelled all over Europe with my Italian ID card.

When asking the airport info point later, the guy first said that I should not have had problems with it, then he checked something and said that since the UK is not part of the Schengen I needed a passport. However, when I checked online later, it said that to enter Spain you need either a passport or a ID card as a EU national. I believe it is the police that does not even know facts, but I will do more research.

  • I updated the answer to make it explicit but I had the same circumstances as OP, from Edinburgh, UK to Alicante, Spain.
    – belvederef
    May 9, 2019 at 10:50
  • 4
    This is pretty shocking. You might want to complain via SOLVIT to make sure that the border officers in Alicante are reminded of the law.
    – MJeffryes
    May 9, 2019 at 12:00
  • No, they were wrong, even though the UK is not part of Schengen area, it is still part of the EU, which means that there are automated spots for EU citizens but there are not transit areas for Schengen flights passengers. The fact that UK is not in Schengen implies that it is not within the free movement-agreement, but for EU citizens it means to encounter automated e-gates instead of none as it would happen in a intra-schengen flight (e.g Paris-Madrid)
    – abdul
    Nov 17, 2019 at 19:27
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    @abdul the entire EU is in the free movement agreement, including the UK. That doesn't mean that there are no passport checks, obviously: there are. But the right of free movement is not the same as the right to an absence of passport checks. Automated e-gates, furthermore, are not particularly related to free movement: US citizens can also enter the UK by automated gates, and EU citizens traveling between, say, Slovenia and Croatia by land do not pass through such gates.
    – phoog
    Nov 17, 2019 at 22:58
  • @didn't know that, but the point remains for EU citizens and doesn't influence them. It's also strange that he did encounter police officer phisically instead of passing through e-gates.
    – abdul
    Nov 18, 2019 at 10:34

In the interests of completeness, it's worth mentioning that there are signs when entering the UK which warn that processing Italian ID cards is slower than passports or other EU ID cards. They don't have any modern electronic reader or digital signature technology, so the border official probably has to consult an online database to check that it's not a fake. So you may need to allow more margin for connections when travelling without your passport.


I've had friends with the old style carta d'identità get into the UK and I constantly see it when coming back into Schengen, although I only used the new CIE, I have had no problem using mine. I don't think you'll have a problem either.

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