National identity cards in the European Economic Area

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Spanish national ID card EPassport logo.svg
EEA and Switzerland

National identity cards are issued to citizens of all European Union member states except Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and also to citizens of Liechtenstein and Switzerland (the latter not formally part of the EEA). Citizens holding a national identity card, which state EEA or Swiss citizenship, can not only use it as an identity document within their home country, but also as a travel document to exercise the right of free movement in the EEA and Switzerland.[1] Identity cards that do not state EEA citizenship, including national identity cards issued to residents who are non-EEA citizens, are not valid as a travel document within the EEA and Switzerland.

National identity cards are often accepted for unofficial identification purposes (such as age verification in bars) in other parts of the world.

At present, five EEA member states (Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Norway and United Kingdom) do not issue national identity cards to their citizens. Therefore, EEA member states' citizens from these five countries can only use a passport as a travel document when travelling to other countries in the EEA or Switzerland, unless travelling within the Schengen Area, Nordic Passport Union or the Common Travel Area, where any valid identity document is usually sufficient, if anything at all. Ireland and Norway have decided to start issuing such cards, Ireland in September 2015 and Norway in 2017.


Travel document[edit]

As an alternative to presenting a passport, EEA and Swiss citizens are entitled to use a valid national identity card as a travel document to exercise their right of free movement in the European Economic Area and Switzerland without a visa.

Strictly speaking, it is not necessary for an EEA/Swiss citizen to possess a valid national identity card or passport to enjoy the right of free movement. In theory, if an EEA/Swiss citizen can prove his/her nationality by any other means (e.g., by presenting an expired national identity card or passport, or a citizenship certificate), he/she must be permitted to enter and reside in the EEA and Switzerland without a visa. An EEA/Swiss citizen who is unable to demonstrate his/her nationality satisfactorily must nonetheless be given 'every reasonable opportunity' to obtain the necessary documents or to have them delivered within a reasonable period of time.[2][3][4]

Additionally, EEA/Swiss citizens can enter a number of countries and territories outside the EEA/Switzerland on the strength of their national identity cards alone, without the need to present a passport to the border authorities (Sweden does not allow its own citizens to leave directly for a non-EEA/Switzerland country without a passport):

1. Unlike the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, the British overseas territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia and the British Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey are not part of the European Union. Nonetheless, EEA/Swiss citizens are able to use their national identity cards as travel documents to enter these territories.
2. Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City are de facto part of the Schengen Area.
3. EEA/Swiss citizens can use their national identity cards when travelling directly between mainland Europe (usually France) and French overseas territories.[18][19][20][20][21][22] In practice, the only French overseas departments/collectivities which can be reached directly by plane from mainland Europe are French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Réunion. In addition, EEA/Swiss citizens can use their national identity cards when travelling within/between French overseas territories (e.g. when flying directly between Guadeloupe and Saint Martin.
4. The national ID card must be in card format.
5. The national ID card must be in card format and biometric.
6. Applies to EU citizens only.
7. Applies to EU citizens, awaiting confirmation from IATA regarding EFTA nationals
8. Not applicable to nationals of Liechtenstein

Turkey allows citizens of Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland to enter using a national identity card.[23] Egypt allows citizens of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Portugal to enter using a national identity card with a minimum remaining period of validity of 6 months.[24][25] Tunisia allows nationals of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland to enter using a national identity card if travelling on an organized tour. Dominica and Saint Lucia allow nationals of France to enter using a national identity card for max 14 days. Gambia allows nationals of Belgium to enter using a national ID card.[26] Finally, Greenland and the Faroe Islands[27][28] allow citizens of Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland) to enter using a national identity card (currently only Sweden and Finland have them, whereas Norway will introduce them in 2017). In practice, all EEA/Swiss citizens can use their identity cards, because no passport control takes place on arrival in Greenland, only by the airline at check-in and the gate, and both Air Greenland and Air Iceland accept any EEA/Swiss ID card. To the Faroe Islands, EEA/Swiss (including Nordic) ID cards are only accepted by Atlantic Airways for travels to/from the Schengen area.[27][28]

Although, as a matter of European law, holders of a Swedish national identity card are entitled to use it as a travel document to any European Union member state (regardless of whether it is belongs to the Schengen Area or not), Swedish national law did not recognise the card as a valid travel document outside the Schengen Area until July 2015[29] in direct violation of European law. What this meant in practice was that leaving Schengen directly from Sweden (i.e., without making a stopover in another Schengen country) with the card was not possible. This partially changed in July 2015, when travel to non-Schengen countries in the EU (but not others, even if they accept the ID card) was permitted.[30]

UK Border Force officials have been known to place extra scrutiny on and to spend longer processing national identity cards issued by certain member states which are deemed to have limited security features and hence more susceptible to tampering/forgery. Unlike their counterparts in the Schengen Area (who, by law, must only perform a 'rapid' and 'straightforward' visual check for signs of falsification and tampering and are not obliged to use technical devices – such as document scanners, UV light and magnifiers – when EEA/Swiss citizens present their passports and/or national identity cards at external border checkpoints),[31] as a matter of policy UKBF officials are required to examine physically all passports and national identity cards presented by EEA/Swiss citizens for signs of forgery and tampering.[32] In addition, unlike their counterparts in the Schengen Area (who, when presented with a passport or national identity card by an EEA/Swiss citizen, are not legally obliged to check it against a database of lost/stolen/invalidated travel documents – and, if they do so, must only perform a 'rapid' and 'straightward' database check – and may only check to see if the traveller is on a database containing persons of interest on a strictly 'non-systematic' basis where such a threat is 'genuine', 'present' and 'sufficiently serious'),[31] as a matter of policy UKBF officials are required to check every EEA/Swiss citizen and their passport/national identity card against the Warnings Index (WI) database.[32] For this reason, when presented with a non-machine readable identity card, it can take up to four times longer for a UKBF official to process the card as the official has to enter the biographical details of the holder manually into the computer to check against the WI database and, if a large number of possible matches is returned, a different configuration has to be entered to reduce the number of possible matches.[33] For example, at Stansted Airport UKBF officials have been known to take longer to process Italian paper identity cards because they often need to be taken out of plastic wallets,[34] because they are particularly susceptible to forgery/tampering[35] and because, as non-machine readable documents, the holders' biographical details have to be entered manually into the computer.[34]

Identification document[edit]

EEA and Swiss citizens exercising their right to free movement in another EEA member state or Switzerland are entitled to use their national identity card as an identification document when dealing not just with government authorities, but also with private sector service providers. For example, where a supermarket in the UK refuses to accept a German national identity card as proof of age when a German citizen attempts to purchase an age-restricted product and insists on the production of a UK-issued passport or driving licence or other identity document, the supermarket would, in effect, be discriminating against this individual on this basis of his/her nationality in the provision of a service, thereby contravening the prohibition in Art 20(2) of Directive 2006/123/EC of discriminatory treatment relating to the nationality of a service recipient in the conditions of access to a service which are made available to the public at large by a service provider.[36]

On 11 June 2014, The Guardian published leaked internal documents from HM Passport Office in the UK which revealed that government officials who dealt with British passport applications sent from overseas treated EU citizen countersignatories differently depending on their nationality. The leaked internal documents showed that for citizens of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden who acted as a countersignatory to support the application for a British passport made by someone whom they knew, HM Passport Office would be willing to accept a copy of the countersignatory's passport or the national identity card.[37] HM Passport Office considered that national identity cards issued to citizens of these member states were acceptable taking into account the 'quality of the identity card design, the rigour of their issuing process, the relatively low level of documented abuse of such documents at UK/Schengen borders and our ability to access samples of such identity cards for comparison purposes'. In contrast, citizens of other EU member states (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain) acting as countersignatories could only submit a copy of their passport and not their national identity card to prove their identity as national identity cards issued by these member states were deemed by HM Passport Office to be less secure and more susceptible to fraud/forgery. The day following the revelations, on 12 June 2014, the Home Office and HM Passport Office withdrew the leaked internal guidance relating to EU citizen countersignatories submitting a copy of their national identity card instead of their passport as proof of identity, and all EU citizen countersignatories are now able only to submit a copy of their passport and not of their national identity card.[38][39]

Common design and security features[edit]

On 13 July 2005, the Justice and Home Affairs Council called on all European Union member states to adopt common designs and security features for national identity cards by December 2005, with detailed standards being laid out as soon as possible thereafter.[40]

On 4 December 2006, all European Union member states agreed to adopt the following common designs and minimum security standards for national identity cards that were in the draft resolution of 15 November 2006:[41][42]


The card can be made with paper core that is laminated on both sides or made entirely of a synthetic substrate.

Biographical data

The biographical data on the card is to be machine readable. (However, note that three European Union member states — Cyprus, Greece and Italy — as well as Gibraltar continue to issue non-machine readable national identity cards.)

Overview of national identity cards[edit]

Member states issue a variety of national identity cards with differing technical specifications and according to differing issuing procedures:[43]

Member state Front Reverse Compulsory/optional Cost Validity Issuing authority Latest version
Austrian ID card.jpg Austrian identity card back.png Optional
  • €61.50 (applicants aged 16 or over)
  • €26.30 (children aged 2–15)
  • Free of charge (children under 2)
  • 10 years (applicants aged 12 or over)
  • 5 years (children aged 2–11)
  • 2 years (children under 2)
1 January 2005
EPassport logo.svg
Belgium ID 2010 (dutch).jpg Belgium ID 2010 (dutch, verso).jpg Compulsory for Belgian citizens aged 15 or over
  • Differs per city
  • equivalent of €11 or €17 in local currency (citizens registered abroad)
  • 5 years
  • 10 years for old style ID cards issued by Belgian consulates
  • Municipal administration (of place of residence)
  • Consulate (citizens registered abroad)
1 March 2010
EPassport logo.svg[44]
Bulgarian identity card.png Bulgarian identity card back.png Compulsory for Bulgarian citizens aged 14 or over
  • first card free (age 14-16)
  • €6.5 (age 14-18)
  • €9 (age 18-58)
  • €5.5 (age 58-70)
  • free (age >70)
  • Prices are for a 30-day issue, multiply by 2 for 3 day issue, by 5 for 8 hours.
  • 10 years (adults aged 18 or over)
  • 4 years (children aged 14–17)
The police on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior. 29 March 2010
EPassport logo.svg
Osobna iskaznica 2015 - prednja strana.jpg Osobna iskaznica 2013 - poleđina 01.jpg Compulsory for Croatian citizens resident in Croatia aged 18 or over HRK 79.50[45]
  • 5 years
The police on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior.[46] 8 June 2015
Compulsory for Cypriot citizens aged 12 or over €20.00 10 years 1 July 2008
Czech Republic
Czech Republic
EPassport logo.svg
ID-card CZ 2012.jpg ID-card CZ 2012 b chip.jpg Compulsory for Czech citizens over 15 years of age with permanent residency in the Czech Republic
  • the version without a chip is free for permanent residents over 15 years of age (first card, renewal or a reissue due to a change in permanent residency, name or marital status)
  • 100 CZK for reissue for all other reasons (no chip)
  • 50 CZK (children under 15 years of age, no chip)
  • 500 CZK for all ID cards with an electronic chip for all reasons
  • 100 CZK for a temporary ID without machine readable data with 1 or 3 months validity
  • 10 years (applicants aged 15 or over)
  • 5 years (children aged under 15)
municipality on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior 1 January 2012
No national identity card (See Identity document#Denmark).
Estonian identity card front.png Estonian identity card reverse.png Compulsory for all Estonian citizens and permanent residents aged 15 or over.
  • €24.28 (applicants aged 15 or over) or €50 (in embassies)
  • €6.39 (children under 15, retirees, persons with disabilities) or €10 (in embassies)
  • €44.73 (urgent)
5 years Police and Border Guard Board 1 January 2011
EPassport logo.svg
Finnish identity card.png Finnish identity card back.png Optional
  • €53 (applicants aged 18 or over)[47]
  • €36 (children under 18)
5 years Police 31 May 2011
French identity card back.png Optional
  • Free of charge
  • €25 (if the previous one cannot be presented, e.g., it was lost or stolen)
  • 10 years for minors
  • 15 years for adults.
  • Police (Paris)
  • mairie (town hall) in the town of residence (France, except Paris)
  • French consulate (overseas)
1 October 1994
EPassport logo.svg
Mustermann nPA.jpg Mustermann nPA RS.jpg Optional, however it is compulsory for German citizens aged 16 or over to have either an ID card or a passport
  • €28.80 (applicants aged 24 or over)
  • €22.80 (applicants aged under 24)
  • 10 years (applicants aged 24 or over)
  • 6 years (applicants aged under 24)
City or town of residence 1 November 2010
Gibraltaridentitycard.png Gibraltaridentitycardreverse.jpg Optional, however an ID card is needed for employment Free of charge
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children under 16)
Civil Status and Registration Office, Gibraltar 8 December 2000
Greek ID Card-Front.jpg Greek ID Card-Back.jpg Compulsory for Greek citizens aged 12 or over
  • Free of charge for first issue
  • €9 for reissue if lost or destroyed (free if reported stolen)
15 years Police 1 July 2010
HunIDfront.jpg HunIDback.jpg Optional, however it is compulsory for Hungarian citizens aged 14 or over to have either an ID card, passport or driving licence 9 April 2001
The Icelandic state-issued identity cards do not state nationality and therefore are not usable as travel documentation outside of the Nordic countries.
Republic of Ireland
EPassport logo.svg
None currently, however ID cards with the details of the cardholders passport picture page will be made optional for existing passport holders (named passport cards) from September[48] 2015. These cards will be valid for travel within Europe (except Belarus, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine), Georgia and French overseas territories.[49]
  • €35
  • 5 years (or when main passport expires)
Passport Office July 2015
EPassport logo.svg (only the electronic version, issued in limited parts of the country)
Carta identita italiana.jpg Some municipalities issue a new plastic, electronic version Compulsory for Italian citizens aged 15 or over €10.00 (€5.00 if an expired Id is returned) 10 years Town Hall 2001
EPassport logo.svg
Latvia ID card (front).png Latvia ID card (back).png Optional, however it is compulsory for Latvian citizens aged 15 or over to have an ID card or passport
  • €14.23
  • €7.11 (citizens under age of 20, retirees)
5 years Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs 2012
  • CHF80 (adults aged 15 or over)
  • CHF30 (children under 15)
  • 10 years (adults aged 15 or over)
  • 3 years (children under 15)
Immigration and Passport Office, Vaduz
EPassport logo.svg
  • 10 years (adults aged 16 or over)
  • 5 years (children under 16)
1 January 2009
Compulsory for Luxembourgian citizens resident in Luxembourg aged 15 or over
  • 10 years (applicants aged 15 or over)
  • 5 years (children aged 4–14)
  • 2 years (children under 4)
1 July 2014 [50]
Compulsory for Maltese citizens aged 18 or over
  • First time issuance of Identity Card: Free
  • Renewal of expired Identity Card (or containing any data that is no longer correct) which are not declared to be lost, stolen or defaced: Free
  • Applications for a new Identity Card in replacement of one which has been lost, stolen or destroyed: €20
  • Applications for a new Identity Card in replacement of one which has been defaced: €15
  • 10 years
  • Identity Management Office

12 February 2014

EPassport logo.svg
Dutch11IDcard.png Optional, however everyone aged 14 or over is required to have valid identification document
  • €31.85 (applicants aged 13 or younger[51])
  • €41.90 (applicants aged 14 or older[51])
  • €69.30 (applicants aged 13 or younger abroad[52])
  • €79.25 (applicants aged 14 or older abroad[52])
  • 5 years[53]
  • 10 years (From 2014 onwards)[54]
  • Town hall in town of residence (European part of the Netherlands)
  • Consular section of Embassy abroad (only in countries in which the Dutch ID card is a valid travel document)
  • Dutch nationals, residing on the Dutch Caribbean islands, although all also EU citizens, can only apply for a specific ID card issued by the island's authorities. These cards are not valid for travel in the EU.
9 October 2011
None, however national identity cards planned to be introduced in 2015,[55] will be postponed until 2016.[56]
Norwegian Police Service 2016
Compulsory for Polish citizens resident in Poland aged 18 or over. Free of charge
  • 10 years (adults aged over 18)
  • 10 years (children over 5)
  • 5 years (children under 5)
Wójt/Mayor/President of the City 1 March 2015
EPassport logo.svg
Cartão de Cidadão Português.jpg CDC4.png Compulsory
  • Normal service delivered in Portugal: €15
  • Normal service delivered outside Portugal: €20
  • Expedited service delivered in Portugal: €30
  • Expedited service delivered outside Portugal: €45
  • Same day delivery with pick-up at IRN desk in Lisbon: €35
5 years Notary and Registry Institute (IRN) 1 June 2009
EPassport logo.svg
Romania ID 2009.jpg Compulsory for Romanian citizens aged 14 or over
  • No expiry (adults aged 55 or over)
  • 10 years (adults aged 25–54)
  • 7 years (adults aged 18–24)
  • 4 years (minors aged 14–17)
12 May 2009
EPassport logo.svg
Compulsory for Slovak citizens aged 15 or over Free of charge
  • No expiry (adults aged 60 or over)
  • 10 years
1 December 2013
Optional, however it is compulsory for Slovenian citizens aged 18 or over who are permanently resident in Slovenia to have a form of ID with photo
  • €12.43 (children under the age of 3)
  • €14.25 (children aged 3–18)
  • €18.77 (applicants aged 18 and over)
  • 3 years (citizens under 3 years)
  • 5 years (citizens under 18 years)
  • 10 years (citizens over 18 years)
  • Administrative Unit
  • Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
20 June 1998
EPassport logo.svg
Compulsory from the age of 14 €10.50
  • No expiry (adults over 70)
  • 10 years (adults aged 30–70)
  • 5 years (applicants under 30)
Police 16 March 2006
EPassport logo.svg
Not accepted for direct travel from Sweden to a non-EU/EFTA country, even if they accept the ID card. Usage is not widespread. Passports are predominately used for travel, while driving licenses and bank ID cards are the primary means of domestic identification.
SEK 400 5 years Police 2 January 2012
EFTA member state Switzerland is not a part of the EEA, but is through a series of bilateral agreements a part of the area in a practical sense. The Swiss identity card is usable as a travel document inside the EEA and the EEA cards are usable inside Switzerland.
  • CHF 70 (adults)
  • CHF 35 (children)
  • 10 years (adults)
  • 5 years (children)
2003 (planned change 2016)
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
No identity card (UK ID Cards abolished 2011 by UK Identity Documents Act 2010)

Gallery of EEA national identity cards[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ECB08: What are acceptable travel documents for entry clearance, UK Visas and Immigration. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  2. ^ Article 6.3.2 of the Practical Handbook for Border Guards (C (2006) 5186)
  3. ^ Judgement of the European Court of Justice of 17 February 2005, Case C 215/03, Salah Oulane vs. Minister voor Vreemdelingenzaken en Integratie ([1])
  4. ^ [2] Processing British and EEA Passengers without a valid Passport or Travel Document
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ [5] EU residents will need only ID to enter Macedonia
  11. ^ [6]
  12. ^ (Romanian)
  13. ^ [7]
  14. ^ [8] Montenegro: visa and passport requirements
  15. ^ [9]
  16. ^ EU citizens can enter Serbia without passport
  17. ^ Lov om utlendingers adgang til riket og deres opphold her (utlendingsloven) kap 2 § 15 (Norwegian)
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Countries whose citizens are allowed to enter Turkey with their national IDs
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ [10]
  27. ^ a b Passport and visa
  28. ^ a b Practical information (Atlantic Airways)
  29. ^ Passlag (1978:302) (See 5§) (Swedish)
  30. ^ Ökade möjligheter att resa inom EU med nationellt identitetskort (Swedish)
  31. ^ a b Article 7(2) of the Schengen Borders Code (OJ L 105, 13 April 2006, p. 1).
  32. ^ a b Home Office WI Checking Policy and operational instructions issued in June 2007 (see [11], pg 21)
  33. ^ See [12], pg 12
  34. ^ a b See [13], pg 3
  35. ^ See [14], table of statistics at 4.13 on pg 12
  36. ^
  37. ^ The Guardian: Passport Office briefing document (11 June 2014) Note that although the list included Switzerland, in practice Swiss citizens would not have been eligible to act as countersignatories as they are not EU citizens.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ Council of the European Union: Draft Conclusions of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on common minimum security standards for Member States' national identity cards
  41. ^ Council of the European Union: Draft Resolution of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council on common minimum security standards for Member States’ national identity cards
  42. ^ List of texts adopted by the Council in the JHA area – 2006
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Zakon o osobnoj iskaznici (Croatian)
  47. ^
  48. ^ Question from BengtIngeL to PassportIRL on Twitter
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ a b [15]
  52. ^ a b [16]
  53. ^ Paspoort en identiteitskaart
  54. ^ Identiteitskaart wordt 10 jaar geldig
  55. ^ Lover nasjonalt ID-kort i 2015 ([17])
  56. ^ IKT-satsingen i justissektoren trappes opp ([18])

External links[edit]