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I am an Italian citizen by birth and hold an Italian passport; in 2015 I moved to the UK using said passport, and I recently acquired British citizenship (both Italy and the UK allow dual citizenship) and hold a British passport as well.

I am due to travel to Italy in August for a week, and in September for two weeks and I haven't checked in yet with the airlines.

Which passport should I travel with?

  • Travelling with my British passport means I don't have to worry about being questioned when re-entering the UK, but it also means being unable to prove in Italy that I am a citizen, and risk being questioned by the authorities (a small chance of that happening, but I have seen it happen multiple times nonetheless). Both trips are road trips, where the chances of being stopped and searched are quite high.
  • Travelling with my Italian passport means I don't have to worry about being questioned in Italy but I'm afraid I will be denied re-entry, as I don't think I can use my Italian passport anymore to prove that I have the right to live in the UK (gaining British citizenship means I have lost my EU settled status, which was linked to my Italian passport).
  • Travelling with both solves the above issues, but it means that I'm at risk of losing both passports at the same time. If I do lose them while in Italy, I cannot ask for help at the British Embassy in Italy; quoting the gov.uk website:

As a dual national you cannot get diplomatic help from the British government when you are in the other country where you hold citizenship.1

Getting a replacement Italian passport while travelling in Italy is a proper pain but it's doable, and I actually had to do so when I lost it travelling there in 2022 (but I was not a British citizen yet). It would also mean having the same issue re-entering the UK, as I cannot prove I have the right to live in the UK.

Are my worries well-founded, or am I just being paranoid?

EDIT: as suggested by the accepted answer, an Italian ID card can be used as proof of citizenship while in Italy. I will then travel on my British passport and with my Italian ID on me, while leaving the Italian passport at home here in the UK. Something that I did forget to mention, in Italy there is the obbligation to carry a form of ID with you at all times (art. 294 reg es. TULPS), and show it upon request from any law enforcement authority. Since a British driving licence might not be recognised as a form of ID (there have been issues in the past where even an Italian licence would not be a valid form of ID), that would have left me with the only option of carrying my passport with me at all times, hence increasing the risk of losing it.

Adding to this hurdle is the fact that, upon stopping, I also need to prove that I am legally in the country; a Schengen or EU citizen won't have this issue of course, and all they have to do is showing a Schengen/EU ID or passport, but the UK is neither in the EU nor in the Schengen area. I've seen a dual Moroccan/Italian citizen been brought to the police station for questioning, even after showing his Italian ID as proof of citizenship, just because he had a non-Italian sounding name, and that's just to mention one of the multiple power trip instances I have witnessed myself. So while I might be a bit paranoid, I have also seen things from the Italian authorities that just reinforce my paranoia.

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    Travel with both, and be careful not to lose them.
    – dda
    Commented May 23 at 9:11
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    If I do lose them while in Italy, I cannot ask for help at the British Embassy in Italy This means that the embassy cannot provide 'consular assistance' like being visited by a consular official if you're arrested. It does not mean they won't help you get a new passport.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented May 23 at 10:13
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    There are millions of dual national UK citizens. After the UK, the country they are most likely to be applying for a passport in is the country of their other citizenship. There is absolutely no bar on this. Otherwise how on Earth would they be able to travel to the UK? The fact you have found nothing about this specifically not being allowed should make it clear that it is.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented May 23 at 11:19
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    Any passport will work for any border crossing. Your best choice is to use the Italian passport to enter and exit Italy and the UK one to exit and reenter the UK. a) you carry back up, b) this gets your through immigration the fastest
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 23 at 12:55
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    "As a dual national you cannot get diplomatic help from the British government when you are in the other country where you hold citizenship": this means that if you get arrested you are not entitled to UK consular assistance as a matter of right (but Italy might allow it as a courtesy). It does not mean that you cannot obtain a UK passport in Italy, nor that you cannot avail yourself of other UK consular services.
    – phoog
    Commented May 24 at 21:26

4 Answers 4

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I am due to travel to Italy in August for a week, and in September for two weeks and I haven't checked in yet with the airlines.

To enter the Schengen Area, EU citizens are only required to prove that they are EU citizens.

Therefore an Italian ID card can also be used.

If you don't have one you can apply for one at the responsible consulate in the United Kingdom.


Schengen Border Code
Article 8 (Border checks on persons)
...
2. On entry and on exit, persons enjoying the right of free movement under Union law shall be subject to the following checks:
(a) verification of the identity and the nationality of the person and of the authenticity and validity of the travel document for crossing the border, including by consulting the relevant databases, in particular:
...

The Annex of the European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe from 1957-12-13 list which documents are accepted and was last updated in 2016.


Sources:

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  • Funny enough, I already have an appointment in June at the Italian Consulate to get a new electronic ID card. I still have the old paper one and, while still valid, I can't use it for some government electronic services and I'm afraid it won't be recognised anymore outside of Italy. Travelling with my ID while there would be my preferred choice, as it is less of a pain to get a new one, and I can easily get a replacement while in Italy in a couple of hours if I were to lose it. I had no idea it could be used as proof of citizenship, but the more you know.
    – vale.maio2
    Commented May 23 at 12:52
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    You can use it to travel the whole of the EU and Schengen, and even some countries outside that area.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 23 at 13:52
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    My recent experience in France and Germany is that an ID card is no longer sufficient to enter the Schengen Area. I usually travel with a UK passport and French ID card, and used to enter the Schengen Area showing only my ID card, but the last few times I’ve also had to show my passport. (The rules still say that an ID card is sufficient, but I try not to argue with border police.) Of course all this isn’t an issue for the OP since they’ll have a passport anyway. Commented May 24 at 5:26
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    @MarkJohnson No, it's not. The whole claim that you failed to properly quote was “My recent experience in France and Germany […] the last few times I’ve also had to show my passport“. The point always was about the gap between the rules and the power relationship you face at the border. Pretending it's not happening because the rules haven't changed isn't useful (as if the OP didn't know that) and calling it a false claim is disrespectful.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 24 at 12:23
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    @StephenKitt: Just to be clear: French and German border police on the way into Schengen, not on the way out? That's strange. Commented May 24 at 16:09
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Travel with both:

  • At check-in/gate UK-Italy, present the Italian passport or ID
  • At Italian entry border control, present the Italian passport or ID
  • At check-in/gate Italy-UK, present the British passport
  • At Italian exit border control, present the Italian passport or ID
  • At UK border control, present the British passport.
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    That's the correct answer. Anything else would work to, but this gets your through immigration the fastest.
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 23 at 12:54
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    It is also what I already wrote, if in different wording.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 23 at 13:53
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    @Willeke No it isn't. Your answer advises that it makes no difference which passport you use, while this answer is specific about what passport you should use in a given scenario.
    – JBentley
    Commented May 23 at 17:59
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    @HSharp "don't you have to present the passport that you have booked the tickets on?": No. Anyone, even a citizen of a single country, might have replaced their passport between the booking and the flight, for any of a number of reasons including loss or expiration. But further than that I always check in with my EU passport when flying to the EU or the Schengen area and my US passport when flying to the US, and most of my flying is on round-trip bookings between the Schengen area and the US, and not only has it never been a problem but nobody has ever even said anything about it.
    – phoog
    Commented May 24 at 21:34
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    @phoog Depends on the airline: with easyJet, Ryanair or WIZZ, if you don't present the EXACT document you specify in the booking, you can be denied boarding if the staff notices (which they rarely do)
    – Crazydre
    Commented May 25 at 15:35
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You are worrying too much.

It is rather unlikely to lose a passport and in any case your Italian passport would allow you entry into the UK, you will not even get a stamp. Only if you are asked how long you are going to stay you will have to explain why you use the Italian rather than the UK passport.

Same with the UK passport in Italy other than you would get a stamp unless you can prove you are Italian.

Show the airline (or ferry company) the passport of the country you are heading to, and the passport officers the passport of their country (or the Italian one if another Schengen country.)

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  • It is rather unlikely to lose a passport Ha! As my mother says, I'd be losing my head if I didn't have a neck... I just don't want to take any chances with Italian authorities, not at the port of entry but at random checkpoints during the trip. I have see my fair share of authorities on a power trip there, taking in for questioning people who could not prove being a Schengen citizen.
    – vale.maio2
    Commented May 23 at 9:23
  • @vale.maio2 get an ID card for this. Much easier to carry than a passport.
    – jcaron
    Commented May 23 at 12:47
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    Keep your passport separate. I've never lost a passport in fifty years of travelling. The chances that you lose both is tiny. Commented May 23 at 13:23
  • I think this answer understates the problem. E.g. if you enter Italy on your British passport and get a stamp, you are then expected to get an exit stamp on your way out and not exceed 90 days in a 180 day period. While ultimately that can all be resolved by establishing that you are a citizen, it can also create unnecessary hassle in the future (e.g. having to explain what looks on paper to be an overstay). So yes, it is possible to do what you are suggesting, but it's best avoided unless you have no choice (e.g. your other passport has been lost).
    – JBentley
    Commented May 23 at 18:05
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    True, only do it if necessary but it is possible.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 23 at 18:17
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Ad an addition to other answers (so maybe your question was too broad/you asked too many questions, which it is not good for this website design).

If you are Italian, you can always enter in Italy, and if you are British citizen the same apply to UK, so you have not such risk (but without valid documents things may be slow because they should be sure you are a citizen). So do not worry about deny reentry. So part of your worries are non-existent.

I think you also misquoted the UK site, or better: you misinterpreted it. You can always go to a British consular office to ask help about documents (get British documents), or also to vote. So you can ask to replace your passport without problems. What you quoted is not about that.

The quote is about diplomatic help (not consular help), which it is different: if you get arrested, usually you can ask your embassy for help (often it means translations, legal help for first steps, etc.), IIRC this is required by some of the Vienna conventions (or maybe an other basic international treaty about embassies). But if you are also a citizen of local territory, local nationality has priority: they just reinforce what was in past common sense: you are not a foreigner to local laws. Also diplomatic help may occur for evacuations (wars, disasters), etc. I think the meaning of such quotation is about that (and newspapers give me think a lot of people thinks about embassies have free from jail cards).

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    The gist of the answer is not wrong but I don't think “diplomatic help” and “consular help“ are really different well-defined concepts. The definition of consular functions in the relevant Vienna Convention uses the verb “assist” and in other contexts this is also called “consular assistance“.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 24 at 7:53
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    @Relaxed furthermore, the "relevant Vienna convention" in this case is the one on consular relations, not the one on diplomatic relations. So the original UK text is using "diplomatic" very loosely indeed.
    – phoog
    Commented May 24 at 21:38

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