It goes without saying one requires international passport when travelling abroad, but what are the reasons for taking a national ID? In what situations may I need it?

Is that enough to take just printed copies of internal ID?

  • I got an ID card as a UK citizen then the new government scrapped them but would not refund the £30 fee. I've retained mine and it has been useful as photo ID. I hope other EU countries accept it. I also got a Citizen Card which is part of the PASS scheme which was offered free of charge when the UK ID card was terminated.
    – user4515
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 19:04
  • 1
    @Gillian thanks for answering, but your answer didn't actually answer the question and was more of a comment, so I've moved it to be a comment instead.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 19:21

3 Answers 3


Situations when your national ID is useful abroad:

  • it's a valid travel document for any EU and Schengen Zone country citizen in all of EU and all of Schengen Zone
  • it's a valid identification when dealing with your consulate or embassy (think for example getting a replacement passport)
  • while in some countries it might not be valid for official purposes, it's still considered a "picture ID". So should be good enough for example as proof that you're over 18. And if you're going to a bar you might not want to take your passport with you to avoid the risk of it getting lost or stolen. Besides, given the typical format of national IDs, they fit nicely in the wallet, which can't be said of passports.

Of course in none of these cases it's a necessity, so you don't need to have with you.


I always take both my national identity card and my residence permit with me. They are a perfect replacement, when a hotel or any other non-official entity requires a proof of identity. Usually I start by giving my resident permit, then my national identity card and if that wouldn't work, I would consider giving my passport.

I would say that you need your passport to cross borders, but for any other use you could revert to your national identity card.

  • 1
    +1, this is exactly what I wanted to say. Replacing a national ID card is usually less hassle since if you lose a passport, you ALSO lose all the visas you may have in it...and replacing those are a pain. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 12:11
  • this answer doesn't really answer the question. Although it is useful to take your national identity card, it is not necessary Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 3:59

No it's not necessary, because not all countries issue national identify cards therefore not every traveller is able to obtain one.

Here in Australia a national ID card called the "Australia Card" was proposed in the mid 1980s. Most of us found the very idea Orwellian and abhorrent. The idea was so overwhelmingly unpopular it was totally withdrawn within about two years.

  • I'm from New Zealand, and there is no such thing as a National ID card too. The only comparable thing is a drivers licence which would be useful if you want to drive while overseas Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 3:56
  • Yes I've been able to use my drivers licence as ID overseas when I don't have my passport handy. And at the travel accommodation where I work we accept any ID that was issued by a government and carries both a photo and a number. Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 6:02

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