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I am a German citizen currently living in the UK. My only identity document, my German identity card, is about to expire, but I may want to travel to Germany and back at some point before I will have a chance of obtaining a new ID card the normal way (due to having to obtain an appointment with the German embassy and waiting to receive the document after that).

Can I rely on some way of getting from the UK to Germany and back on an invalid ID card, and which way would that be? I could imagine an airline holding me up with an invalid document, would eg. travelling by ferry be more likely to work?

If not, do I need to find a fast way of obtaining a new identity document before travelling – and what are my options there?

  • Under what circumstances can I request a temporary ID card for emergency travel from the embassy?
  • Does applying through a honorary consul lead to less waiting time? I know that the Bundesdruckerei takes some six weeks to create the document. This time in itself should be fine, but an additional seven weeks before an appointment at the embassy in London would mean it's late.

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    At the risk of asking the obvious, do you have a passport? – DJClayworth Apr 7 '15 at 21:06
  • Related: This answer might be helphul. – Nean Der Thal Apr 7 '15 at 21:07
  • Are you exercising treaty rights in the UK? – Gayot Fow Apr 7 '15 at 21:12
  • @GayotFow I am a full-time student at a UK university, does that answer that question? – Anaphory Apr 7 '15 at 21:18
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Going back to Germany with a recently expired ID should be possible, even though it's asking for trouble when you need to renew your ID anyway. But it's coming back to the UK that's going to be really difficult.

Asking an honorary consul will waste rather than save time. If it's more convenient because it saves you a trip to London or you can get an appointment earlier, then by all means do it but they will transfer the application to a proper consul/embassy anyway so it would just add one more step in the process and won't make the Bundesdruckerei work faster, which is another major bottleneck in all this.

If you are really in a bind, you should try to get a “temporary” (emergency) passport instead. Here is some info from the German embassy in London about this.

Also a tip for the future: Get an ID card in the middle of your passport's validity period and vice versa so you always have a back-up if one gets lost or stolen and something to travel in the EU while waiting out on the renewal of the other document.

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    I believe some Honorary Consuls may issue visas - but is it the case that for the relevant country (ie Germany) this is not so? – pnuts Apr 8 '15 at 0:49
  • @pnuts of course, whether an honorary consul issues visas is a different question from that of whether they issue ID cards or passports. – phoog Jun 7 '16 at 15:57
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Check with the German consulate in London if they'd give you a temporary travel document to allow you back to Germany. I think they should.

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Germany should still let you in on a recently expired ID (I believe somewhere between 6 months and one year past the expiration date), but returning to the UK may be problematic. Here are your options:

  • Request a passport from the German embassy or Consulate General. If you are still registered in Germany, they will need to get an authorization from the place in which you are registered, but that should not prevent you from getting a passport. (I have obtained a new German passport in Italy that way.)
  • If you need a document urgently, you can get a temporary passport, which is valid for a year and can be issued on the same day. IIRC this also requires that the consulate get an authorization from Germany if you are still registered there. (Again, I have obtained a temporary German passoirt in Italy that way.)
  • To return from Germany to the UK, the Bundespolizei at the airport can issue you a travel document, valid together with your identity card. (I once got this document issued at Munich airport and flew to Stanstead on it.)
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I would advise anyone, especially if they fly back "home" once in a while, to renew their documents back "home".

If I compare this to my country of nationality - Estonia:

  • In the embassy in London I would be paying £44 for ID card and/or £53 for passport renewal. It would take up to 6 weeks and I need to collect it in person.
  • When I visit my family in Estonia I simply visit the service office where the prices for the expedited procedure are: 45 EUR (~£40) for ID card and 58 EUR (~£51) for the passport renewal. Which is both a bit cheaper than the embassy prices AND faster (passport up to 2 working days, ID card up to 5 working days).

So with that second method you can leave the UK with an expired document and renew it in less than a week (the typical time you would most likely spend with the family).

P.S. Granted, I have only used this second option while officially still being registered in Estonia (at my parent's address). Not sure if it will still work if I tell them I have moved to the UK and therefore change my registration address. But so far there is more to lose, hence I am keeping my registration untouched.

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