Basic premise of this question is what are usual requirements for entering Ireland through Airport Immigration - and does this change based on where you departed from?

Basically - I'm a citizen and resident of Ireland - I was travelling back to Ireland last week from the United States and as I was going through Immigration check in Dublin Airport I presented my Passport Card.

This card, in general - I've used multiple times for travel between Ireland and the EU without any sort of problems - and it's far easier for me to access in my wallet than to dig out my physical passport book out of my backpack.

However, when I was going through Immigration in Dublin Airport on arrival from the US, I presented the passport card and was then asked where I was coming from.

When I replied that I had departed from the United States the immigration officer requested my actual physical passport.

I didn't really mind - nor did I want to argue the point - so I produced my passport from my backpack.

However it got me thinking and my question I guess -

  • For what reason would Irish Immigration need to see my Passport to enter the country of my citizenship - provable via the Passport Card.
  • What would have happened if I refused or lost my actual passport?
  • As a citizen of the country, am I obliged to tell the immigration official where I was arriving from?
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    I edited your question to restrict it to Ireland. Different countries will surely have different requirements and nobody will be able to write a comprehensive answer to the general question. Sep 27, 2018 at 14:13
  • To proof the point of difference between different countries, I almost always enter the Netherlands with my ID card when I see an officer and I have never been asked for my passport.
    – Willeke
    Sep 27, 2018 at 14:19
  • Some (possibly unrelated) comment - 1) Perhaps a spot check to ensure the passport card is not a fake one, as passport card is tied to the passport book according to this page? 2) Since the immigration official was told you are travelling from outside EEA, they must have inferred that you are likely to have your passport with you? I am not sure what happen if you refuse or lost your passport en route.
    – B.Liu
    Sep 27, 2018 at 14:44
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    Another possibly-related data point: the US passport card can only be used at land borders and seaports from Caribbean locations. It cannot be used for air travel, for or ocean travel from other locations (e.g., Europe); a passport book must be used. So in this case, where you're arriving from does matter. Sep 27, 2018 at 14:57
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    @JonathanReez "unless there's a penalty for violating that rule, it is pretty much impossible to enforce": sure. I suppose that this incident would have ended without too much fuss had the traveler said "I don't have it." But I don't know that's the case, and the possibility that there is a penalty is not entirely farfetched.
    – phoog
    Sep 27, 2018 at 15:52

4 Answers 4


It is first important to note that there are no absolute rights to anything in Ireland. All rights can be limited by Acts of the Oireachtas, or by relevant Statutory Instruments.

Irish citizens are entitled to enter Ireland, regardless of the document they use.

However, you are required to use the passport card number when checking in online if you intend to use it (at which point the airline can refuse to carry you if your flight originates outside of the EU).

If anything, this makes sense for logistical reasons:

  • Airlines have to register their passenger manifest with the country they are travelling to (including the document numbers of the passengers on the flight)
  • From a security standpoint, if a person arrives at immigration,without a travel document that matches a document from a registered passenger manifest, a security failure/breach may have occurred (either in an Irish Airport, or the originating airport).
    • This would need to be rectified. The only way to understand if this has occurred is to ask for the document you actually traveled on (in this case your passport book)

Additionally, your passport isn't actually your property, it's the property of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As such they can request to see it, if only to ensure that you haven't misplaced it on your travels.

There is no requirement that entry to Ireland be given without any delay upon proof of Irish citizenship. They can't refuse your entry (as an Irish Citizen), but they can certainly delay it if they have a reasonable justification. For example:

  • you may need to be quarantined if you arrived from a country with an active pandemic outbreak to ensure public safety
  • you may be the subject of an arrest warrant
  • you may be the subject of extradition proceedings
  • ensuring there hasn't been a security breach in the air travel system

What would have happened if I refused or lost my actual passport?

If you lost your actual passport you can tell them that, and you will likely need to make a statement to the Gardai about the lost passport while you are still in the airport (lost passports are at risk of being forged and used to facilitate illegal entry into the country).

If you refused then they are able to escalate it to the Gardai, and a Garda can demand to see your passport (failing to comply with Garda orders is an arrest-able offence under the Criminal justice (Public Order) Act).

Are they allowed ask where I have traveled from?

Of course. There are different customs requirements and regulations depending on your point of origin.

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    @user84713 "However, you are required to use the passport card number when checking in online if you intend to use it (at which point the airline can refuse to carry you if your flight originates outside of the EU)." Nope, because they check documentation using the TIMATIC database, which states teh passpor Card can be used in General, not jus when flying from an EU/Schengen state
    – Crazydre
    Sep 28, 2018 at 15:12
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    @Coke You keep going on about Timatic. Whether or not an airline can do something is a different question to whether or not Timatic will advise them to do that thing. Sep 28, 2018 at 15:31
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    @DavidRicherby All handling agents I've spoken to (Swissport, Dnata, Aviator, Menzies, TAV Georgia and Pegasus Ground handling at various airports) have said that TIMATIC has the final say as far as they're concerned
    – Crazydre
    Sep 28, 2018 at 15:37
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    @Coke As an Irish Citizen travelling from Ireland to the UK I do not legally have to provide any ID beyond a work pass (which just has a name and a picture on it), however airlines can and do require higher forms of identification to travel with them (see Ryanair and their policy on requiring passports to travel).
    – illustro
    Sep 28, 2018 at 15:43
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    @JonathanReez That question you linked is restricted to the US and UK, and the accepted answer explicitly only deals with the US/UK regulations.
    – illustro
    Sep 28, 2018 at 15:45

As an Irish citizen, you have the absolute right to enter Ireland. The immigration officer cannot possibly deny you entry, as long as you produce a document that shows you're in fact an Irish citizen - and the passport card clearly shows that. Therefore you have the absolute right to only produce your passport card and refuse to provide any other document. It might delay your border crossing though, so personally I'd just show my passport if I actually had one with me.

  • There are no absolute rights to anything in Ireland. The first statement of your answer is just factually wrong. (Source: citizensinformation.ie/en/government_in_ireland/…).
    – illustro
    Oct 2, 2018 at 9:44
  • @illustro not as long Ireland is a member of the EU and as such a subject of the ECJ. Being able to enter your own country is fundamental right that can only be taken away by stripping your citizenship.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 2, 2018 at 15:31
  • The constitutional position in Ireland is that there are no absolute rights. Articles 52 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (the document that actually lays out what they are) states that the fundamental rights must be interpreted in harmony with the constitutional traditions common to the member states. In Ireland’s case that includes its constitutional position on the absoluteness of any rights.
    – illustro
    Oct 2, 2018 at 15:38
  • Article 52 also allows those rights to be limited by laws of the relevant jurisdictions
    – illustro
    Oct 2, 2018 at 15:39
  • @illustro if you refuse your own citizen entry over only having the passport card, you can expect huge public outroar and most likely a lost ECJ case for compensation over your troubles. It's not happening no matter what the border guards might try to tell you.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 2, 2018 at 15:48

The Passport Card is valid only for travel WITHIN the EU/EEA/CH.

I've had this same issue. Was returning to Dublin on a flight from Moscow. Was asked where I was coming from (which was fairly obvious as there was only one flight coming in at that time).

I'm a Canadian dual-citizen, so it would be handy to travel to there or the US on my Canadian passport and return to Ireland with the card that lives in my wallet. Pain in the backside, and I don't really understand the point of it, but that's the way she goes.

EDIT: Here is the link to the DFA page stating the same: https://www.dfa.ie/passportcard/

  • 4
    EU freedom of movement, however, arguably does not apply to an Irish citizen entering Ireland from a non-EU territory. The terms of your admission would be governed by Irish law, not EU law. But under Irish law, really any evidence of nationality should be accepted, as noted by JonathanReez, especially, because it is a secure document, the passport card.
    – phoog
    Sep 27, 2018 at 16:18
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    @Richard Well, is there any penalty for only carrying the passport card? Like I said, any airline should board you given the TIMATIC info. In Addition, Swedish law also states the national ID is only valid in the EU/Schengen (pre-2015, Schengen only) which does mean you won't be allowed (by Swedish border police) to exit Sweden directly to e.g. Serbia. Nonetheless, you can never be refused entry or penalised when arriving in Sweden from outside the EU/Schengen (ie the other direction) and all countries accepting the Swedish ID care nothing about this retarded Swedish legislation
    – Crazydre
    Sep 27, 2018 at 17:06
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    @Richard Enforced how, other than possibly being scolded? That's the whole point, they can't, and neither won't the airline, because their info says the passport card can be used to enter from anywhere
    – Crazydre
    Sep 27, 2018 at 17:09
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    @Richard I'm telling you it is against international law to refuse entry to your own citizen. The border agent can say whatever they want, you can never be refused entry and sent away from your own country. Thinking about it, I once dealt with a similar retard of an officer at ARN, who was bamboozled that I'd flown KIV-KBP-ARN with my Swedish ID, and took 45 seconds to send me on
    – Crazydre
    Sep 27, 2018 at 17:12
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    @Coke It is against international law to deny entry to a citizen. A country certainly can, however, force you to prove that citizenship in a way national law deems sufficient. It can also arrest, detain, or prosecute citizens for offences related to their entry (reporting requirements, customs infractions, illegal travel or activites while abroad [so long as there are such laws in the country]). The only thing it can't do is turn them away.
    – Owen
    Sep 28, 2018 at 9:07

The officer you dealt with was wrong, and based on the answers and comments, this is depressingly common. It's also happened to me (I'm on a Swedish national ID card) when departing Zurich airport for Moscow (in transit to Tbilisi): I said out loud to the border police (well, in German) "why do you even care? I can exit Switzerland after all", whereby she said they'd be in trouble if I was refused entry to Russia. I then said "well how can I be refused entry without trying to gain it to begin with?" and that it's the Airline that's responsible, not Swiss police. She then got so irritated at me that she simply sent me on.

An Irish passport card proves your Irish citizenship, so you have the absolute right to enter from anywhere using it alone, and you're not required to even bring your passport book.

•What would have happened if I refused or lost my actual passport?

Nothing should happen, but clearly a lot of INIS agents are ignorant and may be bamboozled at it and possibly leave you standing there for a minute or two, but nothing else.

•As a citizen of the country, am I obliged to tell the immigration official where I was arriving from?

No you're not

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 29, 2018 at 1:17

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