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Hi I am a Bulgarian citizen and I want to urgently go to England for week but my passport is expired. My ID card is valid so can I travel to England with my Bulgarian ID card in the bus? Train? By plane?

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The answer below was correct at the time of writing, however since then the rules have changed, EU citizens can no longer use ID cards to enter the UK unless entering at the Irish land border OR are one of the designated cohorts (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-as-an-eu-eea-or-swiss-citizen)


While the UK has technically left the EU. It is, until the end of 2020, still in a transition period where most EU regulations apply. So for the moment yes you can use an EU national ID card to enter the UK.

However you should be aware that the UK is currently imposing 14 days of self-isolation on arrivals from abroad with very limited exemptions as part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So you may well not be able to do what you intended on your visit. It is not clear how long these restrictions will be in-place for.

On the 10th of July 2020 England* is planning to exempt a number of countries from the quarantine but at the time of writing Bulgaria is not on the list. AIUI for the new UK quarantine rules what matters is not your citizenship but where you have been in the last fortnight, so (assuming you live in bulgaria) you could potentially spend a fortnight in a country on the UKs list of safe countries (assuming you can find one that will accept visitors from Bulgaria) before continuing to the UK.

You can find the list of exempted countries at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors#travel-corridors-countries-and-territories-exemption-list. While much of the EU is included Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovinia and Sweden are not.

The list is also subject to change, Spain was initially on the exemption list but was removed after a spike in cases there.

* Rules for other parts of the UK will apparently "be published by the devolved administrations".

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    For future reference, you could add that the self isolation is due to COVID. I expect the quarantine to be lifted before the end of 2020, so there will still be a travel window. Jun 22, 2020 at 0:17
  • According to nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html cases in the UK are currently falling while those in mainland Europe are staying about the same and those in the US are growing. If the trend continues I could see the quarantine being in place for quite some time. Jun 22, 2020 at 6:59
  • The changes in quarantine rules for arrivals only apply to people coming to England
    – CSM
    Jul 5, 2020 at 13:51
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All of the other answers are out of date. With the exception of Irish, and a few special cases, you can no longer use an EU ID card to enter the UK.

See the UK government site: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-as-an-eu-eea-or-swiss-citizen

If you are entering by land from the Republic of Ireland, you won't be checked at the border. It is less clear what ID you will need if you are checked later. I get the impression from the linked pages that you would need a passport if you are checked but see the comment from Crazydre.

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    This seems exactly the same content as the new initial paragraph to Peter Green's Answer, added by him a few hours ago. Jul 24, 2023 at 19:52
  • @DavidRecallsMonica I don't see a clear exception for crossing from Ireland. You won't be checked at the border but in the travelling from Ireland section, it says: "You cannot use an EEA or Swiss national identity card to enter the UK, and can only use a valid passport, unless you:" followed by the same special cases as other points of entry.
    – badjohn
    Jul 24, 2023 at 22:38
  • @badjohn I've consulted the Home Office's CTA Policy Team, who confirmed that, for non-visa nationals, no specific ID requirements apply to be in the UK, only in case of border control. As such entering at the land border is NOT considered an illegal entry and Immigration Enforcement (in case of in-country checks) cannot penalise you for it in any way. The only exception is if disqualified from deemed leave (such as having a deportation order), in which case you can't enter without seeking permission at the UK border
    – Crazydre
    Jul 25, 2023 at 8:54
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    @badjohn Source gov.uk/guidance/… "You will not pass through any immigration control when you enter the UK from Ireland across the land border, so you don’t need any documents to enter the UK on that route." And again, I got precise clarification from the Home Office. The following paragraph ""You cannot use an EEA or Swiss national identity card " applies if entering from Ireland by sea/air and encounter a spot check - though whether they'll refuse entry in practice varies heavily
    – Crazydre
    Jul 25, 2023 at 8:55
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For now (at least until 2021), you're safe to use your Bulgarian ID card to travel to England.

If you're a visitor/tourist/newcomer, the government is intending to stop accepting ID cards from new arrivals later on (I can only assume it will be from 1st January 2021 - end of transition period, or from 1st July 2021 - after EU Settlement Scheme application deadline, it is not officially confirmed when).

If you live in the UK and have a pre-settled or settled status, you can continue to use the ID card until at least January 2026.

UK Government:

Crossing the UK border

Until at least January 2026 we’ll continue to recognise identity cards used for travel by EU citizens and their EU family members who are both resident in the UK before the end of the transition period and hold status under the EU Settlement Scheme. We will also recognise ICAO compliant identity cards from this group beyond 2026.

For newly arriving migrants, we intend to phase out the use of insecure identity documents and will set out further details on this shortly.

Another government source:

What you’ll need to enter the UK

There will be no change to travel document requirements this year. We may stop accepting national ID cards for entry to the UK for EEA and Swiss citizens after 2020. We’ll announce further details, including the date for this change, in advance to allow travellers good time to plan their trips.

If you begin living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and have status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you’ll be able to use your EEA or Swiss national identity card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025.

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