For international trips I have a passport, for EU journeys I use my national identity card. Simply because its format is more convenient, since it fits in my wallet. On my next trip to the UK my national identity card will only be valid for only one week when I return. I am aware of validity issues on passports (e.g. your passport needs to be at least valid for more then 6 months when traveling to the US), what are the regulations regarding national identity cards in the EU? Can I use it to travel within the EU until the last day of its validity?

  • Passports provide a guarantee that you can return/be sent back to the issuing country when your visa expires. Countries might also add all sorts of additional requirements regarding who can enter for which purposes and can in principle turn anybody down without justification. Within the EU, the situation is completely different, you have a broad right to travel and you only need a way to identify yourself (which is why national ID cards, which are generally not considered travel documents, are fine).
    – Relaxed
    Nov 19, 2013 at 14:08
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    @Annoyed doesn't that imply that your drivers license is a valid travel document in the EU as well. I know for a fact that that is not true.
    – user141
    Nov 19, 2013 at 14:13
  • No, there is no such implication as in many European countries (unlike the US), a driver's license is not regarded as an ID at all. There are of course a lot of small differences and even a few EU countries that do not issue ID cards at all but in many cases, locals typically cannot vote, pick up a parcel, open a bank account or conduct any official business without the national ID card. But I have been able to board a flight within the Schengen area with only a driver's license and a good story (namely that I just lost my ID card!).
    – Relaxed
    Nov 19, 2013 at 14:55
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    Remember that until recently (and in practice still for many years), some EU driver's licenses had unlimited validity, which means many people have documents with decade-old pictures and (lack of) security features. Most importantly, it does not prove or even mention your nationality. National ID cards are not usually like that, hence the distinction.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 19, 2013 at 15:04
  • It may be just a detail, but you are not saying who you are looking at when asking for validity requirements. I guess you are looking towards UK immigration, which is usually fine. But note that especially (cruise) shipping companies have their own view on validity of travel documents. Many cruise lines for example want to you produce a passport which is valid at least X months after the end of the cruise even if you will embark and disembark and only visit ports which are within the EU or even the schengen area! I failed to understand why that is. Not sure about airlines, though.
    – TorstenS
    Sep 12, 2017 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


According to the UK Border Agency, all you need is a valid EU national ID card, no mentioning of validity:

When you enter the UK, you must show your passport or national identity card. You should use the separate channel marked 'EEA/EU', where it is available. Immigration officers will check your passport or national identity card to ensure that it is valid and belongs to you.

Also, according to another document issued by the same agency:

Regulation 11(4) states that when an EEA national does not produce on arrival a valid ID card or passport he should be given “every reasonable opportunity” to prove by other means that he is an EEA national. In other words a person claiming to be an EEA national should not automatically be refused admission as a result of being unable to produce a valid ID card or passport.

I could not find any official source where it says a certain period of validity is required for EU/EEA nationals when presenting their national ID cards. Therefore I guess you can use your valid ID card even if it is valid for one more day.

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    Based on that, you may even be able to use an expired one, if you don't mind lots of questions + a long wait while things are checked + them getting very grumpy...
    – Gagravarr
    Nov 19, 2013 at 13:52
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    I have traveled with an ID card less than a week from expiry, returning home with just 2 days left on it. (I also carried a passport but non of the border officials ever knew that.)
    – Willeke
    Jun 14, 2015 at 18:26

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