I'm an Italian citizen. Next Sunday I'm going to Austria. I have a national ID card but no passport. Recently Austria suspended Schengen. So can I enter Austria?

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    Italian too. I'll improve the question. – Matte.Car Jan 17 '16 at 15:45
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    Whether there are border checks or not, everybody crossing borders within Schengen needs either their passport or their European ID card. – Willeke Jan 17 '16 at 15:45
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    Your official Italian ID card is enough for all travel within the EU and the Schengen zone. – Willeke Jan 17 '16 at 15:48
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    Not sure about the actual border situation but Austria hasn't officially suspended Schengen in whole or in part (AFAIK they beefed up controls on the border with Hungary at some point during last summer but did not even use the official notification procedure to reintroduce border checks). – Relaxed Jan 17 '16 at 17:54
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    Schengen is not suspended in Austria. Travel into Austria without document checks may have been suspended, but that is only a small if visible aspect of Schengen. Austria still participates in the common visa system and in EU freedom of movement. – phoog Jan 18 '16 at 7:20

The purpose of the Schengen Treaty is to let EU/EEA citizens pass internal EU borders without having to wait in line to have their papers checked. This greatly simplifies cross-border travel and commerce since there are no delays. Earlier treaties allowed EU citizens to pass those borders without visa or passports, just with their national ID cards. Those are still in force.

Travelers still have to carry their ID cards under Schengen rules, and they must be prepared to show them during random spot checks by border authorities. The way Schengen is supposed to operate, such random spot checks are truly random and infrequent.

To my knowledge, no country has suspended the Schengen common visa policy or passport-free travel for EU/EEA citizens. Due to the refugee situation, some nations make the checks less random and much more frequent. While this greatly disrupts travel, it does not change who can enter and with which papers.

  • “Travelers still have to carry their ID cards under Schengen rules” is not really true. The Schengen regulations create no such obligation and explicitly forbid border checks (even if we have seen that this is interpreted quite liberally in practice). What it does say is that this does not forbid countries from requiring or checking ID according to their own rules, even far away from any borders. In some countries, having or carrying ID is mandatory but in others the situation is a bit murkier than that. – Relaxed Jan 17 '16 at 17:53
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    @Relaxed, I did simplify the truth a bit but everybody will have a very hard time to convince an official in any of the Schengen countries when not having a passport or ID card, unless seeming to be a local in which case the rules for the locals kick in. – Willeke Jan 17 '16 at 19:10
  • @Willeke Difficult to know, it depends on the situation. If you are at the border, the path of least resistance is to “bounce” you even if that's completely illegal within Schengen. But if you are already within the country, what can the police do? In the Netherlands, they can fine you but in France or the UK that's not possible, carrying ID is not mandatory per se. They could also detain and try to remove you but that's an awful lot of work, requires finding out about your citizenship anyway and is impossible for EU citizens who just happen to have no ID. – Relaxed Jan 17 '16 at 19:17
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    It means the police can keep you for some time but should release you once they are satisfied that you really are an EU citizen. They have no other legal procedure available to them. The relevant directive also clearly specifies that you should be given every opportunity to establish your citizenship. So if you can show halfway credibly that you are an EU citizen, even without bona fide ID, my money is on a stern talking to and nothing more and the worse case scenario is a few hours at a police station. – Relaxed Jan 17 '16 at 19:19

Quite apart from the Schengen situation, your national ID card is enough to travel and even reside everywhere in the European Union, even in a country like the UK where everybody is supposed to be checked upon entry and citizens don't have an ID card. So you have absolutely no reason to worry.


In Austria you are not required legally to have/carry any passport/id. You are, on the other hand, required to carry a passport/id when crossing the border.

Also, you are required to be able to identify yourself with appropriate documents. So what this means in practice is, that if the police stops you and you don't have any ID, you will have to make them believe you that you are an EU citizen. Worst thing that can happen is that they take you to the station and hold you there until they are sure you are an Italian citizen.

Legally, you need to carry a EU ID card or a passport when crossing the border. In practice, if you have any official document like a drivers licence, this will usually be enough if the police stops you, even if you wouldn't be strictly allowed to cross the border.

Your national ID card allows you to cross the border and you won't have any problems with it.

I haven't crossed the border between Austria and Italy since the start of the refugee situation, but I crossed the German/Austrian border a few times with only my driving license albeit the more stricter German law concerning identification. The police probably has other problems and won't bother spending time with someone who is clearly an European citizen.

Some information about this can be found here

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    That first sentence is not correct. Only if you are an austrian citizen you are not requried to have an ID with you. – TheJoeIaut Jan 18 '16 at 10:48
  • @TheJoeIaut AFAIK you only need to have a ID with you to cross the border (entering or leaving the country, §15 FPG). §32 says you have to hand the documents to the authorities only if the status as EEA citizen can't be established without doubt by other means. Obviously, it is hard to be in the country without first entering it (for which you need ID). But you don't need to have your ID with you when you are in Austria. Also, I am not a lawyer so this might all be wrong. – Josef says Reinstate Monica Jan 18 '16 at 11:19
  • @Josef $15 says something about what's necessary for entering/leaving, but not that these things are only for entering/leaving. Read FPG §32, §121 and SPG §35 too – deviantfan Jan 20 '16 at 0:38
  • @deviantfan you have to take the exceptions for EEA citizens into considerations. There are not more damands from them than from Austrian citizens, usually. e.g. "Für EWR-Bürger, Schweizer Bürger und begünstigte Drittstaatsangehörige gilt dies nur insoweit, als auch österreichische Staatsbürger verpflichtet sind maßgebliche Dokumente mitzuführen." If you know that an Italian citizen would be required to carry identification while in Austria, can you please point out which law and § says so? – Josef says Reinstate Monica Jan 20 '16 at 10:06
  • @Josef Did you read the paragraphs? – deviantfan Feb 2 '16 at 19:00

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