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My wife is a dual citizen of the US and Hungary. She has a US passport that expires within 3 months and a Hungarian national ID card. Flight is today and there's no way she can get her US passport renewed.

Is she legally allowed to board a flight to the Netherlands with these documents?

Update: we've traveled like this before in August and it was fine, however she was denied boarding yesterday due to her expiring US passport. It seems like a gray area since she doesn't have an EU passport. Trying to figure out whether they should have let her check in and if so how to convince the airline to let her check in today.

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  • Is she flying from the US directly to EU?
    – xngtng
    Oct 17, 2022 at 15:42
  • @xngtng Yes, she's flying directly to EU.
    – adamgy
    Oct 17, 2022 at 15:47
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    According to Timatic, the system used by airlines, “Nationals of Hungary are permitted entry with a national ID card, and Nationals of Hungary are allowed to enter with an expired normal passport or an expired national ID card. These documents are accepted when expired for a maximum of 1 year..” Try inputting your full itinerary and details into the IATA website iatatravelcentre.com
    – Traveller
    Oct 17, 2022 at 16:03
  • @Traveller Where is that quoted reference from? Can I find it online?
    – adamgy
    Oct 17, 2022 at 19:19
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    @adamgy You should get similar response from the two web sites quoted in the answer. This timaticweb2.com/integration/… is the link I have saved from way back but it may not work for you
    – Traveller
    Oct 17, 2022 at 22:10

1 Answer 1

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While legally there is no question that an EU citizen will be able to enter the EU with a national identity document (or any official proof of citizenship), the airlines are usually allowed to have a more restrictive checking to avoid getting fined just in case you are turned back.

Often this is checked by Timatic or equivalent automated database queries that may fail or be too conservative for relatively infrequent documentations.

You can check https://klm.traveldoc.aero/ or https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/ to see what the airlines will see when the staff enters the combination of your itinerary and available documents.

For example, for KLM's traveldoc service, a valid EU national ID card alone is suffice to fly from Canada to any EU country. But for flights originating from the U.S., a passport is required to depart from the USA, which then requires a three-month validity. However, the validity requirement is waived if you hold a residence permit in the destination country.

Timatic (IATA) would allow the travel if you put only national ID card as the primary travel document, but not if you put your nationality and travel document as American.

You may have a better luck, though not guaranteed, if

  • you use an European airline with European ground staff who may be more familiar with EU ID cards
  • you ask or even insist politely but firmly that the airlines put the EU ID card as the primary travel document, perhaps even without mentioning the U.S. passport
  • you fly directly to Hungary and you present the ID card and ask the staff to put it in as a residence permit issued by Hungary
  • you connect in a country without passport validity requirement for US citizens, e.g. UK or Ireland or Canada, where the national ID card suffices for the airlines for EU-bound flights.
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  • Thanks for the detailed answer. Additionally I found this: travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/… - it looks like for dual nationals you must use your US passport to enter and leave the US, maybe this is why they won't allow her to use the Hungarian ID.
    – adamgy
    Oct 17, 2022 at 16:43
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    @adamgy The thing is that having a passport which is valid some time into the future (intended stay + 3 months, sometimes dubiously interpreted as 6 months) is a requirement to enter the Schengen area as a US visitor but the same does not apply for the requirement to leave the US with your US passport. You could satisfy that requirement with a passport expiring the next day so what happened to your wife is still a little puzzling (+1).
    – Relaxed
    Oct 17, 2022 at 17:18
  • @Relaxed We're puzzled too... I feel like the United Airlines staff didn't really have a good understanding of the situation and just kept repeating that it has to be valid for 3 months. Ultimately we had to rebook the flight but I'm more and more convinced that they should have let her board the plane.
    – adamgy
    Oct 17, 2022 at 19:22
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    @xngtng the ID-card-as-residence-permit ploy should work for flights to any Schengen country, not just to Hungary.
    – phoog
    Oct 17, 2022 at 23:20
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    @phoog ideally it should work, but KLM travel doc apparently only recognizes the waiver of passport validity in the residence country. Timatic is less problematic.
    – xngtng
    Oct 18, 2022 at 5:28

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