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I have a UK passport. I am a dual citizen of Bulgaria but I don't have a Bulgarian national ID (I can get one).

What happens if I enter an EU country with my UK passport (e.g. London → Madrid), stay over 90 days but during that time I obtain my Bulgarian ID?

When I want to return to London, will Spanish authorities think that I've overstayed if I show my UK passport? In essence, will I then be required to always using my Bulgarian ID whenever I want to fly from the UK to Spain?

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When I want to return to London, will Spanish authorities think that I've overstayed if I show my UK passport?

Yes! This is a great reason not to present your UK passport. You can also present both, which seems like it would definitely be useful after the EES goes into operation; it would give the officer the chance to delete the records associated with your UK passport from the system. As of now, however, the EES is not in operation, so the primary record of your entry is the stamp in your passport, and the officer is likely to refuse to give you an exit stamp. Still, it may be worthwhile asking for one.

(Note that stamps showing a past stay of over 90 days shouldn't be a problem; for example, you might have had a residence permit during that time.)

In essence, will I then be required to always using my Bulgarian ID whenever I want to fly from the UK to Spain?

Not necessarily; you can still use your UK passport, though there's always a chance they'll want to go after you for the overstay, at which point you will want to mention your dual nationality to get them to drop it.

The worst likely outcome for traveling without your Bulgarian ID is probably a provisional fine that you would be able to avoid having to pay by sending in evidence of your Bulgarian nationality. In many cases, however, you might be more likely to be able to talk your way across the border -- especially on departure.

Also consider that carrying and using your EU passport or ID card isn't only a matter of convenience for yourself; it's also courteous to the immigration inspectors, who have less work to do when they process an EU citizen than they do for third-country nationals.

In short, life will be simpler if you maintain a valid Bulgarian ID or passport and use it when you travel to the EU or Schengen area. If, for some reason, you find yourself wanting to travel with only your UK passport, it should be possible even if there is a greater risk of complication.

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    When leaving Spain, with proof of EU-Citizenship, ask that the entry stamp to be cancelled in the UK passport to avoid future problems. Feb 1 at 12:16
  • @MarkJohnson that's a great suggestion; thanks for offering it.
    – phoog
    Feb 1 at 12:17
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You're an EU citizen so it's legally impossible for you to overstay. This does not change based on what documents you happen to be carrying when you cross the Schengen border.

What will actually happen is highly dependent on the individual border officer you encounter and what data they have access to, but if some automatic system flagged your UK passport, they are nevertheless required to allow you to enter on satisfactory proof of EU citizenship.

At the moment, there is no automatic system to identify overstaying in Schengen-it can only be identified by carefully inspecting stamps in your passport. Once the EU Entry/Exit System is deployed in 2022 May 2023 end of 2023 October 2024 🤞 this will change, but we can presume that border officers will be able to correct any automatic flags, on the basis this is required by GDPR.

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  • OTOH I'm not sure it is legal to use a UK passport to enter in EU, if you have an EU passport (it is a different topic, but relevant to the OP, and which doesn't make you to overstay). Jan 31 at 10:55
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi Yes, it is absolutely legal. There may be some national law (eg, for Bulgarians entering Bulgaria) but for the EU in general there is no law about this.
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 31 at 11:01
  • they are nevertheless required to allow you to enter on satisfactory proof of EU citizenship: the OP is not concerned about not being admitted to the Schengen Area. The question is about the possibility of being suspected of overstaying when EXITING the Schengen Area. Jan 31 at 11:20
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    @CSM do you have a citation for that
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 31 at 21:21
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    @CSM there was a statement that it would be required to use EU documents (not that it would be illegal to use third-country documents) because of administrative concerns (such as not storing EU citizens' data in the system). But that statement was removed shortly after I first noticed it; I assume that this is because they recognized that such a requirement would impede free movement and that it would be preferable to allow EU citizens to enter their data in the system at their own discretion so they could travel with third-country documents if they chose.
    – phoog
    Feb 1 at 11:54

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