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I want to use my UK passport to go visit a country in the EU. I don't want to keep changing my passport during my trip, its time consuming.

As a Brit I can enter any EU country for 90 days without a visa. So, do I really need to show my EU passport or can I just show my UK passport the whole trip?

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    Is the underlying issue here not the time-consuming nature of changing passports (which on the face of it doesn’t seem all that time-consuming), but that the two passports are not in exactly the same name?
    – Traveller
    Nov 19, 2023 at 17:39

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So, do I really need to show my EU passport or can I just show my UK passport the whole trip?

Most probably, yes, you can show only your UK passport. But keep in mind that a British citizen can enter the Schengen area for up to 90 days without a visa only if:

  • their passport is valid at least three months beyond their intended date of departure and was issued no more than ten years before the date of entry;

  • they can justify the purpose of the visit and show that they have sufficient resources to support themselves without working;

  • they are not the subject of a decision to refuse entry;

  • they are not a "threat to public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of any of the Member States"; and

  • they give fingerprints or other biometric data, if required.

By contrast, an EU citizen only needs a passport or ID card that is valid on arrival and can only be excluded on grounds of public policy, public security, and public health.

Therefore, although it is unlikely, your passport inspector could ask you to justify your visit or prove that you have enough money, or could determine (whether correctly or not) that you were over the 90-day limit, or at least close to it. If that doesn't go well, at some point you would want to play the "I'm also an EU citizen" card, at which point, if the officer accepts that claim, the criteria for your admission will change dramatically.

If that doesn't happen, however, you would in most cases be fine to show just your UK passport for the whole trip. (There are some exceptions; for example Poland apparently requires Polish citizens to use their Polish passports to enter and leave Poland.) And in some places at least it's quite likely that a British citizen will get a fairly cursory examination consisting of only one or two questions.

So yes, if you really want to wait in the longer passport lines then you can use your UK passport if you find it more convenient, but it's certainly safer to have the EU passport on hand as a backup in case things don't go smoothly. If it's not because a passport inspector is giving you the third degree, it might be because you have a tight connection or were late arriving to the airport and need to get through passport control more quickly than you had anticipated.

And really it doesn't take much time to switch passports. I normally just keep mine in the same pocket or travel wallet, and when I need to show one to someone I pull out the one I want to show. Sometimes this requires an extra second or two to make sure I've picked the right one. Sometimes, if I'm really tired and therefore prone to confusion, and I know that I won't need one of my passports for the rest of the trip, I'll put it somewhere else, safe, away from the passport I am planning to use. This typically takes no more than a minute, and I usually do it while I'm sitting at the gate waiting for boarding to start, so I'm not doing much else at that point anyway.

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  • If you present a valid EU passport to the inspector, and your biometrics match, surely they have to accept that and allow entry? Nov 20, 2023 at 11:42
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I'm not quite sure what the relavence of your names being different on both passports are?

If the problem is that your UK passport does not have your current legal full name, then the problem is nothing to do with usage of passports, but more to do with the fact that you need to update the UK passport with your current legal name (or be prepared to face a lot of hassle at the border).

You can enter and exit with your British passport whenever you want without hassle as long as you maintain the maximum of 90 days within 180 days, or have some sort of valid identity card (or visa) that allows you to stay longer. Your UK passport does not provide any EU rights beyond the visitor visa exemption stamps unless you have a visa or some other identity card, and you will have to prove your EU rights through another method in order to avail those rights.

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    In fact an EU/non-EU dual citizen who enters the Schengen area is not required to observe the 90/180 rule. It's not necessary to have an identity card or visa "allowing you to stay longer"; any proof of EU citizenship will do. (Of course, in practice, it will be cumbersome to prove EU citizenship without a passport or identity card from the EU country, but the document used to enter the Schengen area has no bearing on the traveler's legal rights; it only affects the administrative side of things, which could indeed get sticky after exceeding 90 days in a 180-day period.)
    – phoog
    Nov 19, 2023 at 21:53
  • @phoog It's not required to observe it legally, but you need a valid identity document or visa to show that you are allowed to enter or exit the EU for the given number of days. You need ID to get anything done in most countries including accessing public services in many countries. It is possible to turn up at the border without valid documents but you will be processed much more as an undocumented immigrant. Nov 19, 2023 at 22:19
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    Absolutely, it's not going to go smoothly or be particularly enjoyable trying to exceed the 90-180 rule without an EU passport or ID card, but there are lots of people who seem to think that one is bound by the rules applying to the passport used on entry, and in many cases, including this, that isn't the case.
    – phoog
    Nov 19, 2023 at 22:50

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