9

I'm Irish and there's an option of getting an EU passport card. It does seem like a gimmick though as it costs €35, only lasts for 5 years and have heard only allows travel between EU/EEA/EFTA member states.

I take it that I can't use the card for travelling to the U.S. or Canada?

8
  • 2
    Not sure about ID cards in Ireland, but in Sweden most people use their driving license. For people that don't have a driving license the "passport card" is a convenient replacement both for national use and instead of a passport for EU trips.
    – Anders
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:14
  • 1
    Not today, but they have been designed to ICAO passport card standards with a view to being accepted worldwide eventually, or at least anywhere you can travel visa-free. Of course that still requires agreements with every involved government, which will take time. Interestingly the US has its own "passport card" but it does not conform to ICAO standards so I chose not to get one. Jul 9, 2021 at 2:10
  • 3
    @Anders One key difference between Ireland and all other EU national ID cards is that you cannot obtain one without already having a passport so the passport card doesn't save you any time, money, or effort. It just takes less space in your pocket than a full passport booklet.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 9, 2021 at 10:12
  • 1
    @Relaxed It's also a redundant travel document, which can save you a whole lot of hassle if you happen to lose it while abroad. Just keep the card in your wallet and your passport at the hotel and you're safe against just about anything that could happen to your docs.
    – TooTea
    Jul 9, 2021 at 14:11
  • 1
    I'm an Irish immigrant in the US and the passport card has been really useful because (a) whenever my regular passport is in the US embassy for visa processing I can still travel in Europe and (b) losing it is not as big deal as losing my regular passport. If I lose my regular passport it's a huge ordeal because I have to replace both the passport and my current US visa to return home. Jul 9, 2021 at 14:18

6 Answers 6

15

As you state in the question, it's only valid in EU/EEA/EFTA countries, so no you can't use it for travel anywhere else. I don't think it's a gimmick though. If you do a lot of regular travel within Europe, it's more convenient to carry around than a passport. Of course if you don't then it's probably not worth getting.

15
  • 4
    I also used it as ID in USA. Bars seem to insist on US driving license or a "passport" and don't take non-US driving licenses, I used the card which has the word "password" even though technically it's not a valid travel document in US.
    – rvs
    Jul 8, 2021 at 15:58
  • 3
    The passport (and card) has date of birth on it, if a bar is asking for it. They don't want to know who you are, but if you are old enough to be served alcohol. You might be old enough to hold a drivers licence in your own country, but not to be served alcohol in the country you are visiting. Jul 8, 2021 at 16:09
  • 1
    On the other hand, I've also seen someone with a UK passport (who was clearly over 21) be turned away in the US. So it's a crapshoot seems like. Jul 8, 2021 at 21:56
  • 1
    @AzorAhai-him- the penalties for serving underage can be severe in some places. I've seen 35 year olds turned away while having a license from the same state as the bar was located, and it wasn't even a college town. An extreme case to be sure but if there's been recent enforcement sting ops in the area a bartender is going to be extremely cautious.
    – eps
    Jul 8, 2021 at 22:22
  • 2
    @WeatherVane Driver's licenses also have birth dates on them. In fact, in the US, there is a significant proportion of the population old enough to be licensed to drive and not old enough to be served alcohol. Many bars will refuse any foreign ID other than a passport. Some won't even take a foreign passport. The rules vary from state to state; in some states bars have more discretion than in others.
    – phoog
    Jul 9, 2021 at 0:11
6

It's not a replacement for a passport, in fact you must first have a valid Irish passport before you can be issued with a Passport Card. It serves as a valid ID document in the EU/EEA. Note that in some countries you are required to carry identification - this card is a good substitute for carrying your passport.

But as shown here, you do need a rather large pocket for it.

Irish Passport Card (https://www.dfa.ie/annualreport/2015/our-people/launching-the-irish-passport-card/).
(https://www.dfa.ie/)

Where can you use it

It is valid for travel to all EU Member States, the members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It is recognised as a valid travel document by relevant national authorities.

Countries
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and Switzerland.

(https://www.dfa.ie/passportcard/)

3
  • 6
    This card looks very inconvenient to carry with you. An ordinary passport would be much smaller.
    – Curd
    Jul 9, 2021 at 15:34
  • 5
    @Curd But I can't tell if it's the same person if the photo isn't the same size as his actual head... "Uh, excuse me sir, but your photo doesn't match - it says here that you're supposed to be in black and white, but I can clearly see that your actual face is in color"... Jul 9, 2021 at 17:19
  • 1
    We, in the next island over†, are not allowed to smile in passport photos. Is the Irish passport designed to show EU officials what Irish people look like when leaving Ireland rather than show what folk look like returning exhausted and hungover from Ibiza? († no not that one, the bigger one) Jul 10, 2021 at 10:41
5

Can an Irish passport card be used for travel outside Europe?

Wikipedia suggests you can use the Irish passport card to enter the island of Montserrat but only in transit to another country. I don't know how realistic this scenario is (transit from where to where? And how would you enter that country?) but that's one territory outside Europe.

I take it that I can't use the card for travelling to the U.S. or Canada?

That's correct. You do need to take your passport with you for that.

[…] have heard only allows travel between EU/EEA/EFTA member states.

It's a little broader than that as it is also accepted in a number of Balkan countries that are not a member of the EU, EEA, or EFTA but that's still no more than 40 countries, all located in Europe. Whether that's more or less valuable to you than entry to the US and Canada will depend on your personal circumstances. I know I am crossing European borders every month and I have never been more than twice a year to the US.

However, I think all this misses a big use case for the Irish passport card: residing elsewhere in the EU. As an Irish citizen, you are entitled to do that without having to secure a residence permit. As some EU countries require everybody to carry some officially sanctioned ID document or rely on those extensively in daily life, having a card you can put in a wallet can be more convenient than carrying a passport booklet every day. On the other hand, for the occasional vacation, it might not be worth the trouble.

5

I asked exactly the same question a few years ago.

Since then, I have used it many times within the EU. I like that I can easily carry it in my wallet and hence I can pop over to another country any time that I feel like it (well, I could prior to Covid). A few countries beyond the EU and EEA will accept it but primarily it is an EU document. I would check carefully before relying on it to enter a non-EU/EEA country as I expect that the rules could change. A downside is that it does not work in the automated passport gates or many self-check-in terminals.

One use that I have not attempted yet is entering the UK after Brexit. I remember in the days before computers (I am old) that, when I entered the UK with an Irish passport, I would be looked up in a large book (The A to Z of terrorists, I expect). The only exception was when I entered just after my sister. I guess that there was no entry for our surname and he did not have to check me.

Once, in Amsterdam I was rushing for a connection and I joined a priority queue. My need to use the queue was questioned. I explained my short connection time. This was accepted but the official said: why not use the automated gates as there is no queue. I explained that I was using a passport card. He was surprised, he did not know that Irish passport cards existed.

For use within an EU country, e.g. checking into a hotel or renting a car, it hs always been immediately accepted without any query.

2

It's often necessary to provide ID in situations where one wouldn't necessarily want to use a passport. The ID card is better for everyday situations because:

  • It's not the end of the world if you lose it. You can still travel etc
  • It's less easily damaged. Waterproof, and sturdy.
  • It's small and fits in a normal wallet.
  • You can keep it with you 'just in case', which you may not want to do with your passport

In addition to this, the ID card is invaluable when you have to send a passport in the post to confirm your identity (for example if you apply for an Irish passport for your child). You still retain a fully functioning valid form of ID in case you need it.

-5

There's no "EU passport" -- member states of the EU share a common format (color etc), but it is still a national passport.

As for "only allows travel between EU/EEA/EFTA member states" -- that's nonsense, rather the opposite is true:

A) citizens of the member states do not need a passport at all to travel to other member states

B) inside the Schengen area there are no border controls (time limited exceptions possible, for example during the pandemic)

C) as a citizen of an EU member state you may not even need a passport to most destinations at all

So, whether you should apply for a passport depends on your destination.

USA at least require a valid passport.

4
  • 3
    The common color is recommended, not mandatory. The various countries have somewhat different shades of it, and Croatia ignores the recommendation altogether. Point A is incorrect; citizens of EU member states do generally require a passport or national ID card to travel to other member states, which is why Ireland started issuing passport cards. That member states may require EU citizens to have a passport or ID card is specified in directive 2004/38/EC. The absence of systematic controls at internal Schengen borders does not imply the lack of a requirement.
    – phoog
    Jul 9, 2021 at 10:19
  • 2
    I think you have misunderstood the question. It is asking about the European Passport Card: independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/… which is not a national passport (or even a passport at all since it won't have pages for stamps or visas).
    – terdon
    Jul 9, 2021 at 11:35
  • 1
    @terdon The linked artical title is misleading. It is an Irish Passport Card. It can be used in the same way as most European ID cards, that Ireland doesn't have. Jul 9, 2021 at 13:32
  • 3
    Travel between member states requires either a passport or a national ID card. Ireland does not issue national ID cards, but the passport card can serve that function.
    – TRiG
    Jul 9, 2021 at 14:59

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .