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As the title suggests, I hold two passports (Italy & UK) and I would like to use my British passport to travel to the EU in a few weeks' time. My outbound journey has an overnight layover in Paris (which will mean I need to enter France and exit the following day), whilst the return is a simple 45min transfer in Amsterdam (AMS).

In the future, if I use my Italian passport for travel to the EU, will I encounter problems at the border (traces on the database, further questioning etc)?

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  • 22
    Why do you want to enter Schengen on your UK passport (thus pretending you're an ordinary visitor who can be refused entry at any time) instead of as an EU citizen with a right to enter?
    – TooTea
    Nov 20 at 16:29
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    You are a citizen of Italy. You have a right to enter italy, no matter what. Nov 20 at 17:09
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    Using your IT passport, you can enter the Schengen area without restrictions. Thus, this question feels like an X/Y Problem. What is the underlying problem you're trying to solve? Nov 20 at 17:25
  • As a dual national, I have often entered a Shengen country using my non-Shengen passport because my Shengen passport had expired, for example, @DavidSupportsMonica.
    – terdon
    Nov 21 at 10:27
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    "I would like to use my British passport to travel to the EU" why?
    – njzk2
    Nov 21 at 17:45

3 Answers 3

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I have UK and Irish passports. I use the Irish one when entering an EU or EEA country or Switzerland. I use the UK one to enter the UK.

If you use the UK passport to enter the Schengen area then it will be stamped. If you don't use it to exit then you will have an unmatched entry stamp. Of course, as an EU citizen, you won't lose your right to enter the EU but if you use the UK one to enter the EU again then you might be questioned about it.

If you have an EU passport then life will be simpler if you use it to enter the EU. It is hard to see a reason to do otherwise. It will also probably be quicker to use the EU / EEA / CH queue at immigration.

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  • Italy has no problem with dual citizens, so if you have simply forgotten the one passport (or simply not available due to visa applications etc.), travelling with the other is no problem. With an Italian ID card, you can also enter the Schengen Area. After ETIAS authorization is required the situation will change, since without proof of Italian citizenship such a authorization would be required. Nov 20 at 19:06
  • @MarkJohnson I am not saying that it is necessarily a problem. As you say, there may be odd reasons to do it occasionally but, in the absence of these reasons, it is probably simpler and quicker to use the EU passport to enter the EU. The scenario that I am warning against is: enter with UK passport, leave with EU passport, attempt to enter again with the UK one. This may lead to some questions.
    – badjohn
    Nov 20 at 19:20
  • My most common "wrong" passport usage is entering the UK with my Irish passport. This may happen when I have been to the EU but don't want to carry two passports.
    – badjohn
    Nov 20 at 19:23
  • Yes, it is definatly simpler. Any missing Schengen stamp or overstay can be resolved by showing proof of EU citizenship. For an Irish citizen it is even easier, since a leave to enter is not required when returning to the UK. (The comment was intended to address the OP's question) Nov 20 at 19:46
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    @badjohn Not the best, just the luckiest Nov 21 at 1:06
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I have UK & DE passports.

My experience is that, if you have both documents with you, then show the relevant document to the relevant authority to avoid unnecessary delays.

For example flying:

  • show your UK passport when checking in at the German airport (they need to know that you can enter the UK before you board)
  • show your German passport when you go through German security (otherwise they'll want to know if you have allowance to live in Germany - probably because there was no entry stamp)
  • show your UK passport when arriving in the UK

Or ferry/tunnel:

  • show your German passport to the French border control after passing the UK border (otherwise they will have to stamp your UK passport)

Note: for the above instances, I was travelling with a UK passport and a German ID card.

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    I must disagree. If you are flying you gave passport details when you booked your ticket. You must use that same passport at the airport, or they won't let you fly. I have DE and UK passports. And if you suddenly have two passports in your hand and are visibly wondering which one to use, their spidey-senses will flag you as suspicious.
    – RedSonja
    Nov 21 at 14:39
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    @RedSonja: Yes, the airline wants to see the passport the ticket was booked with, but border control wants to see the passport that matches the country.(E.g. German passport holders must enter Germany on a German passport.) No-one bats an eyelid if you turn up with two passports in your hand at the airport. My daughter does that all the time. Nov 21 at 19:20
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    I think @RedSonja and Marianne013 both have valid points. You now have to provide passport details before you fly so make sure you have that documentation with you. They are not bothered if you have multiple passports. However, I did once check in with my German ID and had to show my UK passport at the gate. The German border control always want to see my German ID.
    – paul
    Nov 21 at 20:01
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Right now, nobody would even notice. Presenting a British passport means you have to fulfil a number of requirements and could in principle be refused entry but that remains rare. Visa-free visits for British citizens are also limited to no more than 90 days in any 180-day period in the Schengen area. This is enforced using the stamps in your passport and not through any sort of Schengen-wide database. Even for British citizens, questioning is typically not very thorough and none of this would have any impact whatsoever on later travel on your Italian passport.

The main drawback is having to use slower “all passports” lanes at border control points but British passport holders are actually allowed to use the automated passport gates at both CDG (or St Pancras) and Schiphol (only when leaving the Netherlands but that's what you will be doing) so you wouldn't suffer from that on this particular trip.

That said, the EU has been working to tighten border enforcement using technology. There are two systems that are supposed to gradually come online in the next couple of years and would impact British citizens:

Whatever happens, your legal position remainds the same. You do not risk a fine or any other serious consequences and will always be able to present your Italian passport to clear any question border guards might have. But ETIAS in particular will make it more difficult to carelessly use your British passport in the future as transporters will need to verify that you applied for prior authorisation. And even if there is nothing illegal about it and no reason it should create problems, any trip on your British passport ought to be recorded in a database for a few years and easier to find that it currently would be.

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