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Will they keep my passport? Europe overnight trains crossing borders.

Hi!! 15 years ago someone I know had a very bad experiencing when he turned over his family passports in an overnight train, they lost one and had major headaches.... Now I am going to take a couple of these trips at night from Prague to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Paris and from Paris to Rome, do they still ask for your passports? If I tell them to wake me up to show it if necessary, would it be acceptable? I do not want to give them to anyone and have my vacation ruin because something happens.
Thank you!

Posted by
16165 posts

Last time I took a CNL from Venice to Munich in 2010, I believe we did. Thought nothing of it and the attendant brought it in the morning with our "wake up" coffee and croissant. Although there are no border checks between Schengen Zone countries, an agent might ask the attendant for the name list at a border stop. I have seen agents cruise the coaches on border crossings between Netherlands and Germany.
I don't think there are any night trains between Amsterdam and Paris. It's only about a 3 1/2 hour ride nowadays.

Posted by
16866 posts

There are no longer any border checks between those countries and also no direct overnight trains between those cities. I suggest that you fly the two longer legs (see and take the 3.5-hour daytime Thalys train between Amsterdam and Paris.

There is an overnight train route from Paris to Milan (arriving 6:00), Verona (8:00), and Venice (9:30), so if you really want to take the train, you can connect in the morning to other parts of Italy, and can hang onto your passport.

[Edit] Note that the Paris-Italy night train (operated by Thello) does not accept rail passes, it only gives pass holders a small discount.

How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it.

Posted by
21243 posts

Just remember it is still common in Italy for the check-in clerk to ask to keep you passport for awhile especially when they are busy. While keeping overnight was common many years ago, now it may be just an hour or so while a copy is made and recorded.

Posted by
12592 posts

Agreeing with Frank here: it's common for the desk staff at Italian hotels to ask for your passport for a short time. Sometimes they can return it in a matter of minutes, and sometimes they'll ask you to return for it after you've settled in. It depends on how busy they are so don't be reluctant to relinquish it if asked.

We were not asked to produce our passports on the Thalys between Paris and Amsterdam. Laura and Sam are correct that it's only 3.5 hours or so between those cities so I can't imagine that an overnight train would be needed - even if there was one.

Posted by
4524 posts

The last time I took overnight trains was 2009. I took quite a few and many, perhaps most, kept my passport overnight. It's not a big deal and intended to prevent you and your cabin mates from being awoken in the middle of the night. While cross-border checks are not standard, they actually happen frequently on overnight trains. You just don't know about it because they rarely check every passenger and the conductor has your passport.

Posted by
6 posts

Hi!! Thank you very much for the information!!! I have done a bit more research, my next leg is Prague to Amsterdam, looked into Bahn site and will be doing Prage-Cologne, stay 1 day, then Cologne- Amsterdam, at the website it recommends taking a bus then a train( for the Prague-Cologne), how is this? would a bus be ok? or do I look for just train connections?
I am thinking on buying Eurorail Global Pass (we are 2 adults and 2 children under 10), would this cover all my needs of travel? I will be going to Chech Republic, Holland, France and Italy in the next 2 months, please advise, thank you very much!!!

Posted by
4941 posts

Lina, please go to the main section of this site and read the free page on train travel. Railpasses are seldom cheapest anymore, and reservations are required anyway on many long distance trains. Advance planning and non refundable tickets can help, just like the airlines.

Posted by
26017 posts

Regarding the bus from Prague.

Yes, the bus is easier and faster and non-stop. It is a railway provided double decker coach with amenities. You can go by train to Nuremberg but it is slower and has many stops, and is nothing special.

The Global Pass is UNLIKELY to meet all your needs in the countries you have named. There are considerable extra costs.

French fast trains - the TGV - are rationed to pass holders and sometimes you won't be able to get on the one you want without paying a new full fare ticket for all travelers. You need to make those reservations just as soon as you can commit to the date. There is a not insignificant charge for each person on each different TGV train - so if you take a TGV and change to another to complete your journey and return each person will have 4 fees.

If you just buy French tickets ahead you can get very good deals (PREMs and a number of other discounts are available, and diminish the closer to travel) with no rationing and those reservation fees are included in (lower) price of the tickets.

Italian faster and fast trains (anything higher than a Regionale - coded R or RV) (which include ES - advertised as Freccia, EC - Eurocity, IC - Intercity) within Italy or cross border) all attract a non-rationed mandatory pass holder seat reservation fee of (at last look) €10 per person per leg on Freccia and €3 per person per leg on everything else. These reservations can be obtained until just before travel, if there are seats still on that train (usually unless a national holiday or rush hour) but it can be slow - at a window - or a little confusing and you often have to put up with "helpers" looking to make money if you use a machine.

It is possible to get advance tickets on many routes for as little as €9 per person - on the same trains - and they include the reservation fees, so not only is it cheaper than the pass holder reservation fee there's no pass day to pay for either.

Most people find that passes in Italy make little sense.

Passes in Italy are not valid at all on many trains.

Passes are not accepted on the trains around Milano operated by TreNord, including, to the Milan airport (Malpensa Express), and around Lake Como.

Passes are not accepted on the local trains around Napoli - Circumvesuviana to Sorrento and Pompei among others.

Passes are not accepted on many trains in the south of Italy.

Second Class passes are not accepted on the Leonardo Express from Roma Termini to the airport in Rome.

Passes are not accepted on the new national competing fast trains provided by Italo Treno. That's a real pity because they are lovely trains with excellent customer service and a very easy to use website.

Posted by
16165 posts

Going from Prague to Cologne there is still a CNL night train available. Remember that besides a supplement required to get seats with a Eurail pass, you will also need to pay full price for any sleeping accommodations.

Posted by
18021 posts

There is a night train from Munich all the way to Amsterdam (22:50-8:56). You can take the evening IC Bus from Prague to Munich and then go directly to Amsterdam by night train.

Posted by
415 posts

We recently took a daytime train from Paris to Milan. They checked our tickets but not our passports. I was going to hand them to him but he waved that it wasn't necessary.