I thought that it was possible to travel in the EU with a national identity card rather than a passport. However, some friends in Denmark say that is no longer true and they need a full passport even to go to Sweden. Is this so? I have not heard it from other sources.

I had just started to travel in the EU with my Irish passport card and I have had no serious problem yet. I even went to Denmark with it but since I changed planes in Amsterdam, I did not need to show it in Copenhagen.

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    People have a lot of misconceptions about the EU and the Schengen area. Your friends views are not out of the ordinary, albeit wrong.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 14:44
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    @JoErNanO a "national ID" issued by an EU or EEA state is valid for travel in the EU. This is specified in the freedom of movement directive. Denmark does not issue national ID cards, however.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 15:39
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    @phoog In Italy one can get a national ID that is not valid for travel purposes. It says "non valida per l'espatrio" on the back.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 15:41
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    @NeilP there is no such airline in the EU as of 2018.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:03
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    @NeilP "the airline may decide their own rules are that you must have a passport" No they can't; the strictest they can ever require of an EU citizen is a passport or national ID card.
    – Crazydre
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 0:13

2 Answers 2


Denmark has never issued ID cards of the kind that some other EU member states do. This is why a passport is the only option for Danes traveling within the EU.

If Denmark chose to start issuing such ID cards, they would be valid for travel to other EU member states too.

What is new(ish) is that citizens used to be able to travel between the Nordic countries with neither passport nor ID card. This ended several years ago when Sweden introduced (now irregular) ID checks at the border to Denmark.

It has always been the case that Danes were supposed to carry passports when traveling outside the Nordic countries, such as to Germany. After we joined Schengen, passports are not checked systematically when entering Germany, but many people seem not to know that they are still supposed to be able to show them if they're stopped by German police inside Germany.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 17:42
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    As far as I understand German Law (§ 8 FreizügG/EU, Abs 1, Satz 2), as a citizen of the European union, you only have to have a valid passport (e.g. in your hotel room), but you don't have to carry it with you all the time. But I'm not a lawyer. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 14:39

Your passport card remains fully valid across the EU/EFTA (and most other European countries for that matter). Your Danish friends say otherwise because Denmark has never even had a national ID card, and so they cannot relate to this.

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    @badjohn Schengen countries are MUCH more lax than the UK. DUnno about Ireland as I only ever entered once (by bus from London, where the only check happened at Holyhead before driving onto the Ferry)
    – Crazydre
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 15:10
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    Yes, the UK is strict on visitors (especially recently). The laid back nature referred only to citizens. We have never had a national ID card and don't need to carry ID not even when driving.
    – badjohn
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 15:12
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    @badjohn They're not strict to EU citizens unless they don't look European in their eyes. Even I who look like a Yugoslav/Bulgarian (I'm not though) once had my nationality questioned at Gatwick (the officer, though she obviously didn't say it out loud, clearly thought my ID was a counterfeit). However, other than that occasion, they only ever ask (at airports) where I flew from and that's it
    – Crazydre
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 15:15
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    @Mast No, within the UK or Ireland, there is no need to carry ID. You don't even need to carry your licence when driving. I do but many don't. gov.uk/stopped-by-police-while-driving-your-rights. Outside the UK or Ireland, I used to carry at least my driving licence but now I usually carry my Irish passport card.
    – badjohn
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 7:10
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    @phoog the 2006 ID card never got past the pilot stage and they were only ever issued to a small part of the population. The UK did have mandatory ID cards during the wars, though, which were abolished in 1948.
    – pjc50
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 13:32

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