Can I swap from an Irish to British passport on return?
Q I took advantage of my Irish ancestry to obtain an Irish passport during the Brexit debacle. If I book a holiday in the European Union, is there any reason why I couldn’t travel out to the EU country using my Irish passport and back to the UK using my British one?
A Lucky you. The decision to leave the European Union, and the hard Brexit the government subsequently chose, has made life much more complicated for those of us with only British passports. I am glad to hear you have the good fortune to qualify for a passport issued by an EU country. Anyone who travels to Europe and is entitled by ancestry to a passport from one of the 27 member states – or wider Schengen area countries, including Norway, Iceland and Switzerland – should apply.
As the UK requested when leaving the European Union, British passport holders face multiple hurdles. These include strict limits on passport validity (no older than 10 years on the day of entry to the EU, no less than three months remaining on return); slower immigration queues on arrival; and strict limits on the length of stay and activities while in Schengen area nations.
For travellers with passports issued by Ireland, these hassles are not reciprocal on entry to the UK. You will be able to use the automatic eGates when returning to Britain with your Irish passport. It is valid up to and including the expiry date. You will face no limits on your length of stay in the UK. So the obvious answer is to use your Irish passport exclusively. Leaving the British one at home will also handily eliminate the risk that you could lose both while on holiday abroad.
But to answer your question directly: it is perfectly permissible to travel out with the Irish passport and back with the British one. You would, though, need to be sure that you check in online for each flight with the appropriate Advance Passenger Information details. Budget airlines can be particularly pernickety about checking passports against the details you supplied at check-in. Another good reason to stick with that Irish passport.
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