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A heads up on carrying ID

Everyone should be aware by now that French law requires you to carry photo ID issued by your government at all times. (edit - NATIONAL government)

This (for most people) means passports. I know that for many people carrying your passport around is worrying. I've never understood why, and never had a problem with carrying it when I was out and about. I have always had photocopies of my passport, but they have been left in my accommodation as proof (if needed) that I do (or did) indeed have a passport.

Yesterday my ID was asked for by the police doing random checks. They actually stopped the bus I was travelling on and asked everyone (even the driver) for ID. My French ID card was scrutinised minutely, the guy at the back of the bus carrying photocopies only must have had an even more worrying time, looking North African and carrying only a photocopy of his ID (couldn't see what it was).

Posted by
7245 posts

“for many people carrying your passport around is worrying. I've never understood why,”

Because it can be stolen and we can’t fly home without it. Getting a replacement is time-consuming and difficult if you’re not near an American Embassy. I don’t like, and won’t wear, a money belt. I do carry my Driver’s License on me.

Posted by
288 posts

Your US (or even Australian) drivers licence isn't government issued ID in the eyes of French law. State Government issued, yes, and you may get away with it, but if the letter of the law is being applied you could be in for a sweaty 15 minutes.

In the past 30 years of travelling contsantly all over the world I have never had a problem carrying my passport every day, and I never wear a money belt.

Posted by
11436 posts

yeah.. not going to do it.. Ill take my chances..

So did they haul the guy at the back of the bus off to jail ? lol

Posted by
4695 posts

Your US (or even Australian) drivers licence isn't government issued ID in the eyes of French law. State Government issued, yes, and you may get away with it, but if the letter of the law is being applied you could be in for a sweaty 15 minutes.

Great - that sounds a lot less difficult than getting a passport replaced because it was lost or stolen. If I'm in Paris and need to go back to my hotel to get my actual passport to show the police, so be it.

In the past 30 years of travelling contsantly all over the world I have never had a problem carrying my passport every day, and I never wear a money belt.

That's nice, but too many tourists have been pickpocketed and lost their wallets, passports, and more. Even Rick Steves was pickpocketed last year.

Posted by
288 posts

It potentially wouldnt be just going back to you hotel. It would be waiting until the police have a car free to take you back to your hotel, escorting you to your room and waiting until you have produced your ID

Then (according to how late in the day it is and how bored/tired/under his target that particular policeman is) you could be charged with contravention of the IS law.

It would be the same (if not worse) for any foreigner in the USA.

Posted by
5352 posts

Good to know, Simon. We always have passports in our money belts -- plus drivers licenses (current and expired) -- never felt uncomfortable with the money belts but to each his own.

Posted by
3448 posts

Thank you, Simon. I’m in France now and although I almost always have my passport with me in my money belt, sometimes I leave it in the hotel when I’m having dinner. I’ll keep it with me.

By the way, I’m having a wonderful time in your area! Villandry gardens were exceptional, and I absolutely loved my night in Angers so I could see the fortress castle and Revelation tapestries. Thanks for your contributions to this forum - much appreciated!

Posted by
2924 posts

I don't know, but I have never lost a wallet or any crucial paperwork at home, so don't sweat about becoming forgetful and losing a passport traveling. I also wonder what the true stats are of stolen passports vs number of travelers? Of course Rick will eventually get pickpocketed. Hpwith the amou t of travel vs #or years, his risks are higher than many.
Ultimately, despite laws, people will do what they feel works best for them....despite advice and 'rules'.

Posted by
1103 posts

I have had ID checked randomly in both Paris and on a road near Tours. For these checks, any government issued ID was sufficient, I used a US drivers license for one and a passport for the other. I have my passport nearby, in my hotel for example, but I generally only carry my drivers license walking around Paris.

Passports are important to prove one is in France legally but copies of passports lack one very important element, the Schengen entry stamp. Only the integral document, not a copy, can prove legal status.

Posted by
1206 posts

We've had this debate before--I always have my passport in my neck wallet and on me at all times when out and about.

If someone wants to steal it, they have to steal me too.

Posted by
5714 posts

I have been traveling in Europe regularly since 1960 and have yet to be braced for my papers. I am not going to worry about it. I have also had business at the US Embassy in Paris and was surrounded by tourists getting new passports many of them losing a day in a short Paris trip and others having missed their flights home or onward flights; one woman lost is on a Friday and couldn't get a replacement till Monday. When thieves steal your stuff they don't care if they also have your passport -- it may not be useful to them, but they won't be turning it in at the police station they will be dumping it in a garbage can somewhere.

If I were a young black man I might carry it in a neck wallet since my odds of being harassed by police would be a lot higher than they are as an old white woman. But I will chance a sweaty 15 minutes once every 60 years or so rather than risk the hassles of a passport replacement while traveling. I carry my passport card and my DL and usually a copy of my passport. I have managed to be admitted to a hospital with that copy and use it for VAT in stores regularly with no problem. If I have banking or telephone sim card business then I take the passport specifically for that although I have used the copy for a sim card successfully.

Posted by
7736 posts

Thanks for relating your experience on the bus, Simon. I find it very interesting that your bus was stopped and even the driver was made to show ID.

I'm also of the carry it with you school of thought.

Posted by
3427 posts

So did they haul the guy at the back of the bus off to jail ? lol

Not funny. And it is very possible he was. Or at least dragged off and taken to get his passport wherever it might have been. A time consuming waste of both your day and the police for no reason.

We just have to face the facts that the world is different. There are too many people out there wanting to do things they shouldn't that will harm many of us. So now an ID is required, a real government issued ID not a copy not a picture on your phone, and what is so difficult about having the actual proper ID with you? Do you go around your home town without your driver license in your pocket because it might get lost or stolen and it is difficult or at least time consuming to get replaced?

I carry my passport on me at all times when I am not in the US. It is not an inconvenience to me to do so. I use a money belt, I have gotten used to the feel of the silk ones and they don't bother me (forget about the other fabrics, too heavy and too itchy). A lot easier to simply show the passport and be on your way than to be left worrying how the rest of the police encounter is going to go.

Posted by
6067 posts

Does anybody know of a link to the actual law regarding carrying ID in France? I've tried to find one but can't. I'd love to read what the actual law says because I've read several different interpretations so I'm not sure I trust any of them completely.

Posted by
775 posts

For all sorts of obvious reasons, France is "tightening up" on laws that have been in effect for years but were not necessarily enforced to the letter. Save yourself some trouble and carry that passport. In Paris, when a form of identification has been needed, my Florida ID has been accepted. Proof of being in France legally is probably what the controleur is looking for.

a link
https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F31208

Contrôle des papiers d'un étranger : quelles sont les règles ?
Vérifié le 10 avril 2019

Il doit toujours avoir sur lui le document autorisant son séjour en France :

un passeport revêtu d'un visa valide (sauf s'il fait partie des nationalités dispensées) pour un séjour de 90 jours maximum,
ou une carte de séjour ou un visa de long séjour (voire un récépissé ou une autorisation provisoire de séjour) pour un séjour de plus de 3 mois.

Posted by
4695 posts

what is so difficult about having the actual proper ID with you?

As so many of us have stated, the "difficulty" is the risk of losing it in a foreign country due to pickpocketing or just misplacing it. Even Rick Steves was pickpocketed last year. It could happen to anyone..

Do you go around your home town without your driver license in your pocket because it might get lost or stolen and it is difficult or at least time consuming to get replaced?

It would not be so difficult or time-consuming to get my driver's license replaced at home. In my state, it costs $26 for a replacement. All I have to do is fill out an application and take it to a DMV office where they will immediately issue a temporary replacement. I don't have to travel to another city to an embassy and re-arrange my vacation, probably for a whole lot more than $26, as in the case of losing my passport.

And the relative risk of having my wallet stolen (driver's license fits neatly in there) at home is much smaller than the risk of my bulky passport being stolen or misplaced.

I read about people being pickpocketed (like Rick Steves) all the time and have met more than one person face to face who told me their pickpocketing horror story. I have yet to meet ANYONE who told me about being taken to a police station in a foreign country because they couldn't produce proper ID on request. So the relative risk to me as a traveler seems far greater of losing my passport. Therefore, I'll continue to take my chances by not carrying it around with me all the time.

Posted by
1005 posts

Here is a link to the French website about carrying ID with you:

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F31208

For those of you who do not read French or don't want to bother with Google Translate, here's what the official UK government website says about carrying an ID in France:

Local laws and customs
You must be able to prove your identity either by providing documents when asked or within 4 hours at a police station. Identity documents can be a passport, a photo driving licence or other documentation provided by a government body.

See https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/local-laws-and-customs

Posted by
399 posts

It occurs to me that the police are unlikely to provide concierge service, driving you to your hotel and waiting /watching while you produce your passport. I don't know what the actual procedure would be, but that strikes me as spending more time than the police could afford to spare. The inconvenience (if that's all it comes to) would fall on you, not on the police.

Posted by
7245 posts

“Identity documents can be a passport, a photo driving licence or other documentation provided by a government body.”

Thank you T.

Posted by
775 posts

T. is partially quoting from a UK document not the French. A driver's license will not prove legal right to be in France so be careful about this technicality.

In general, proof of identity documents are not always the same as proof of legal stay documents.

Posted by
354 posts

Do you go around your home town without your driver license in your
pocket because it might get lost or stolen and it is difficult or at
least time consuming to get replaced?

I don't think it's hard to understand that there is a big difference between losing identity documents at home in one's own town and country, versus on a time-limited vacation in a foreign country. (And I say this as someone who has lost his wallet at home!)

If you lose an identity document at home, you are there for (usually) an indefinite amount of time, so having to wait for an appointment with the relevant agency is not as crucial; you often have access to other identity documents at home; you typically don't need the document right away for costly long-haul international travel; and on a more subjective basis, the loss is less likely to "ruin" your day or week (I'll grant that if it's a lost driver's license that will impact a lot of people's ability to commute, but it's not like you are ruining an expensive trip that has been saved for for a long time).

Whereas if you lose it on vacation, often none of the above are true: you're on a limited time, the loss of the document can directly prevent you from getting home, you may not have any other alternative documents to carry, and the time spent working to replace the passport may interfere directly with a long-planned vacation carefully saved for.

None of this is to say that you should or should not carry (I'm on the fence myself). But I think it's definitely a false equivalence to say that losing an ID document abroad has the same impact as losing it at home.

Posted by
2454 posts

Thanks, Simon.

I'm with Maria:

I don't know, but I have never lost a wallet or any crucial paperwork at home, so don't sweat about becoming forgetful and losing a passport traveling.

While I'm sometimes likely to put my backup financials in my room, I carry my passport in my purse. My purse is attached to me. I have never lost anything at home and I live in an urban environment, so I don't expect to lose anything abroad. That being said, there are a lot of absentminded people out there who should leave their PP and CC behind as pickpockets pounce on these people or they lose their belongings (this is more apt to be me if my purse wasn't attached. LOL) To each their own and their level of risk and concerns. There is no right way but I prefer to be flexible by carrying my important papers.

Zoe, whom many of you knew, had to obtain a replacement passport abroad, and she remarked how easy it was to do so, not the huge deal it is made out to be on this forum. I always know where the US embassy or consulates are. Should I have a trip where I won't be going through or have access to one of them, I might use my leg wallet and carry it...not sure. I want a CC and PP with me at all times, so I can change plans at a moments notice and not return to my hotel if need be. I'm a risk manager.

Posted by
1206 posts

ONE MORE TIME, Y'ALL:

N-E-C-K W-A-L-L-E-T

Yes, I'm yelling.

Posted by
2239 posts

I'm in the carry your passport camp, though I did manage to lose it in Provence a few years ago. I would not trade my wonderful experience at the Embassy in Paris two days later for anything. From the "welcome home" to "have a great day" I was in and out in a couple of hours with a temp, after straightening the portrait of the then-President-it's not the end of the world, it's a visit to your home in a foreign country. For that experience we skipped the Promenade Plantee that day.

Posted by
856 posts

Maybe losing your passport is not the end of the world, but remember the recent poster who could not board a purchased flight to the city where the American Embassy was located? Quite the 24hr. Ordeal.

Posted by
3286 posts

As a person of a certain age who travels solo and has multiple medical issues, any one of which could lead to me not being able to communicate, I always wear a money belt. It has my passport, a copy of all the details of what's wrong with me and the usual other stuff like driver license, extra money, credit card, etc. I figure that if I have an incident and my always closely held small cross-body bag somehow disappears, emergency personnel will be able to find all the important stuff under my clothes.

I agree that many money belts are either too small or too annoyingly uncomfortable to wear, plus I was always concerned that the elastic would snap or the buckle come undone.

A few years back I found a running belt that would work. At the time I bought my EazyMate, it was the only thing like it that I saw and was not touted as a travel accessory. Now there are lots of brands. All are unisex. I have two. You step into it like putting on your underwear and definitely wear it under your clothes, not as shown in the pictures. It's so comfortable that I find myself frequently patting my belly to make sure it's still there.

Perhaps people wouldn't be so resistant to wearing money belts if they were comfortable.

Posted by
5537 posts

Simon, I just want to thank you for posting your experience. I find it absolutely fascinating that this happened to you — it’s not something I would have dreamed of in a million years. So I appreciate your taking the time to advise us what happened!!

Do you mind telling what kind of bus you were on when this happened? I.e. a local city bus, a Flixbus or Ouibus or some such traveling between different cities in France, or something else?

As to Dave’s note and what Zoe has described a few years ago, a friend of mine who was visiting earlier this year lost her passport (she was staying here in Paris but at a hotel, not with me) after we had dinner one night — and by the time we met the next afternoon had already gotten it replaced!! She described the experience like Dave did — said she couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was. Of course the story is different if you are not in the same place as the Embassy, but still, i was pleasantly surprised by her experience. I would have thought it would be a huge pain!!

Posted by
451 posts

I have heard many first-person reports of people having severe difficulties because their passport was lost or stolen. But somehow all of the reports of difficulties because people didn't have it on them while asked are all speculation, 2nd-hand rumors, somebody else, and hypothesis of what the "law" requires. Not people personally having any difficulty relating to this that even remotely resembles the hardships form those whose passports were actually lost or stolen. I walk around aware, have never been pick-pocketed, but never carry my passport except when traveling through an airport. Not apt to change my behavior because somebody told a story about another person, who seemed like they were having a hassle...

Posted by
462 posts

interesting thread.

I do carry a money belt, but I also lock my passport up each day in my apartment. I carry the passport around when I am traveling out of the city I am staying in, but for day trips around the city, I don't carry it. Not sure why my drivers license would not be sufficient.

Posted by
6875 posts

I read through the French documents. One type of check is identity; drivers licenses are acceptable as are other legal documents that have your photo. There is no mention of “national,” In France the licenses are nationally issued, not by departments or regions, so the idea of national is assumed, but nothing is stated.

The second type of check is to see if you have the right to be in the country. If over 90 days, you must show your visa or a carte de séjour? If you come from a country that needs a visa, you’d better carry your passport. However, if the police are checking to see if you have the right to be in the country, or if they are checking to be sure 90 days haven’t elapsed since you entered the Schengen, then you need your passport. If you don’t have it on your person, you have a 4-hour time period in which to present it at the police station.

Posted by
3427 posts

Never meant to imply that losing a driver license at or near home was as bad as losing a passport on vacation. Both are inconvenient and cause you to lose valuable time, either taking time off work to get the license replaced or finding a consulate or embassy to get the passport replaced, and with no other acceptable option losing a passport is definitely a worse situation to be in especially if you need to fly before can be replaced.

It's just the argument that a passport is somehow easier to lose or have stolen when you are traveling fails logic. Keeping the passport well concealed in a place on your body that a pickpocket can't reach makes it as safe as possible. Nothing guarantees 100% your passport will not be stolen. You could just as easily have your hotel safe or apartment broken in to and everything of any value taken.

I know I am not going to change the opinion of those who for whatever reason firmly believe it is better to not cary their passport with them. I just prefer carrying mine based on my own personal experiences dealing with police both at home and abroad. They are never happy if you cannot produce whatever they ask for. I prefer keeping police I deal with happy.

Posted by
5714 posts

Bets have you ever met anyone stopped on the street to prove they haven't exceeded their 90 days in Schengen? I have actually been detained at the airport to prove this when the lazy Roman immigration clerks didn't stamp my passport; I had to produce other documentation and it delayed us about an hour and a half; if we had cut it fine we might have missed the plane. The guy pulled over with us for the same reason did miss his plane. (I don't know if he had actually exceeded the 90 days or what). In my somewhat vast experience the 90 day issue comes up at exit but then I have never been asked for my papers on the street by cops either.

If you do feel you should carry it on your body at all times, I would definitely just make an under clothing money belt part of your attire. They are fairly comfortable. I do wear one with our passports in some countries where I have less confidence in the authorities and less experience. although I will admit I did this the first time I visited Russia but not the second. Neck wallets are both visible and I find them very uncomfortable.

Posted by
11436 posts

Mark I’m still waiting to see if Simon answers
- so yeah its lol to me .

I can easily get to my hotel and back to a police station within four hours , as required .

Neck wallets are uncomfortable and show through your clothes - wouldn’t wear one .

Posted by
12117 posts

I've started to carry the passport more often now in France, say more than I did 10-15 years ago, when a lot of the times I just left it in the hotel room, (there was no safe in the room either back then). I don't keep ii in the neck pouch but in the zipped inside pocket of the jacket, most of the time since it's way too hot to have this jacket on, I carry the jacket, obviously with the Passport inside.

Since the mid-1990s I found out about French law requiring a visitor have a photo ID on them I have on me both the CA Dr Lic and the US Passport. The photocopy of the Passport I leave in the luggage, in the spinner. Prior to the 21st century, I didn't bother having a photocopy made for my trips then.

The Passport is not going to be stolen from me...not possible.

Posted by
1206 posts

French, at least, authorities seem to do checks (or not) at odd times.

Taking the RER trains in the Ile-de-France one trip, I rarely if ever saw an agent in my car. But one day about 5 or 6 of them together came through the car.

I was on a bus to Pont-du-Gard at 10/11 am on a Sunday when, in the middle of nowhere, two guys in suits got on to check tickets--there were no more than about 10 passengers on the bus.

I've had an agent ask me for a Metro ticket as I was leaving the station all of a sudden.

Coming back to Paris from Amiens, I bought a first-class ticket. The car had people coming in and out there the whole ride--take a seat, look around a lot, and then leave. Couple of boys running up and down, in and out of seats, leave the car, come back in.

But as we arrive at Gard du Nord, I see an agent sitting up at the front of the car just having a conversation with someone--I never saw him during the trip.

So, who knows?

Posted by
6875 posts

Janet—Africans are stopped regularly, as are other immigrant workers, which includes Eastern Europeans and Portuguese. I’m sure you’ve seen these checks in the Metro. When I am able to walk on by while they are being checked, I understand the concept of privilege. I’m sure the conversations in their communities sound different from ours.

I don’t think well-heeled tourists from western countries are the real focus of police ID checks. But, it could happen that a tourist is caught up in a check, particularly a tourist of color.

Posted by
3427 posts

I am in Paris this week (work related). Wonderful now that it is not so hot.

But on topic -- was just on the RER and a group of police and military looking guys came through the train asking for tickets and passports. Me and my traveling companion both had our passports. After my friend had every page in her passport examined (she has the extra page option and travels a lot more than me and she is originally from Egypt), they glanced at my relatively new and mostly empty of stamps passport and said good day.

The family of four sitting next to us from Boise were not so lucky. They did not have their passports with them. The offered driver's licenses were not acceptable for whatever was being checked. They were escorted off the train at the next stop. Don't know where they went from there. I doubt it was to have coffee with the police.

So yes, France is getting more serious about ID. Take it as you want.

Posted by
1206 posts

Thanks, Mark.

Carry your passport, in a money belt or in a neck wallet.

Reminds of when I was in Rome studying. People were making fun of me for the neck wallet.

So sure enough, big John (6'4") (one of the mockers) gets his passport and wallet taken right out of his front shorts pocket by three urchins on the 64 bus. "Give it back," he says. Yeah, right.

Have a nice time at the police station.

Posted by
6875 posts

But on topic -- was just on the RER and a group of police and military looking guys came through the train asking for tickets and passports. Me and my traveling companion both had our passports. After my friend had every page in her passport examined (she has the extra page option and travels a lot more than me and she is originally from Egypt), they glanced at my relatively new and mostly empty of stamps passport and said good day.
The family of four sitting next to us from Boise were not so lucky. They did not have their passports with them. The offered driver's licenses were not acceptable for whatever was being checked. They were escorted off the train at the next stop. Don't know where they went from there. I doubt it was to have coffee with the police.

I wish Mark’s post could have gone right under Simon’s as this is the on-the-ground testimony that backs him up. Despite what I read about a passport not being specified, Simon’s warning of carrying a passport is correct, according to Mark’s experience.

Does this end the debate, at least for France? I don’t have a dog in this debate because as a citizen, I carry a French ID card in Europe.

Posted by
288 posts

Bets: I had an almost brand new Carte de Sejour, which they read as if it was a completely strange thing. Odd....

Posted by
230 posts

I just got off Skype talking with my friend who lives in Paris. She just had her purse stolen in the middle of the day in the Jardin du Luxembourg - they cut the strap and made off with it before she even missed it. She was telling me how she lost her money, credit cards, keys, "papers," and her ID. So yes, it DOES happen, even to the natives - she is a born and bred Parisienne, not a tourist! She is not only savvy to pickpockets, having lived in a big city all her life, but she doesn't have the usual "tourist" profile that thieves look for, and she was in about as safe an area of Paris as you can find.

Another French friend was on her way back home after a visit to us in the U.S. On the train from Paris to Brittany her suitcase was stolen and she lost EVERYTHING. I guess she took her eyes off it just long enough for someone to grab it one of the stops and be off the train before she realized it.

I've spent nearly a year in France altogether and was never once asked for my passport or ID after leaving the airport. So I'm not sure whether it is worth the risk - and worry - of carrying it with me all the time, especially after hearing these stories.

Posted by
5537 posts

Mark — thanks for sharing your experience. Wow.

And Bets is absolutely right. In nearly 100% of instances, a person of color is going to receive more scrutiny any time identification is checked. I too am cognizant of that every time i breeze through.

Posted by
7736 posts

Mark, thanks for posting your experience!

Posted by
12117 posts

The main question is why didn't that family from Boise have their passports on them, not even one of them?

Admittedly, I have been on the Metro with no passport (that was in the past), but never on the RER, assuming that makes a difference.

Posted by
11 posts

Since the law requires a National photo ID, wouldn’t a Global Entry Pass qualify as proper identification?? It is a US Government Issued ID card with photo. I would much rather lose my Entry Pass than my actual passport.

And, do the new Real ID cards required in the US really soon for domestic travel qualify? They are RFID but issued by the States and require a lot of documentation

Posted by
6875 posts

You’re way ahead of the ball, asking questions that I’m sure the French government hasn’t thought of yet.

Posted by
775 posts

As pointed out earlier in many posts permission to be in the country legally is different than proof of identity. Global entry would have nothing to do with proof of legal stay as it's for arrival in the US. In most cases the only proof of legal stay in a Schengen area such as France is determined by a look at the date stamped in a passport or that given by another type of visa. Documents issued by the US government will not give you permission to be in a Schengen area.

Posted by
12117 posts

What the US government requires in terms of ID, eg the Real ID, etc is irrelevant to the French government. They are only interested in seeing one's US Passport if you happened to be "controlled."

"...carrying photocopies...." That's exactly why carrying photocopies is useless. I don't do it.

Posted by
1400 posts

I would say 50% of my stamps are totally illegible, and there is no rhyme or reason to where people stamp. I literally have EU stamps from this summer superimposed on stamps from the middle east from last year, next to stamps from the EU this spring and last fall. So have I been in the EU 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 18 months? Who knows. Seriously, there is no way you could create a coherent narrative from my passport. You frankly couldn't even tell what the countries or dates were in many cases.

There is just a lot of fud being thrown around here. Everything is risk analysis. We have native speakers of French who are confused on exactly what the law states. This is not going to happen. Many of us like me who dont like to stuff our over-sized passport down our crotch actually travel with our passport cards. We also are not morons and do some probability analysis. If I'm driving, hiking in a border region, or taking an intercity train, I have my passport with me. If I'm in town for 5 days taking ubers and the subway, its in the hotel.

Posted by
3427 posts

The main question is why didn't that family from Boise have their passports on them, not even one of them?

Can't answer that. It didn't come up in conversation. They were talking about their visit to Versailles earlier that morning and how much they were looking forward to getting back to their apartment for dinner.

Posted by
12117 posts

I've lucked out in that my passport stamps on the current passport (since 2015) and that of the last one (since 2005) are 90% legible, dates stamped by France, the UK, Poland, Germany and the USA. are quite clear....all good historical evidence.

There were 3 incidents where a passport check took place after the arrival at the landing airport.

Crossing from Germany to Holland en route to Amsterdam on that day trip in 2014, the Dutch checked everyone on that occasion, a few they quizzed more intently, eg this young guy from the Philippines. That check was done in English.

In 2017 after crossing immediately from Austria, the DB guy said in English for everyone to get out their tickets, passport and visas, ie made sure all the foreigners got the message. When I showed my rail pass and he saw the US Passport, he just waved at it. On that check, Bavarian police took off 6 "stowaways" , questioned them in English, they were escorted off at Rosenheim.

The 3rd passport check "incident" I was going back from Austria back to Munich from Salzburg, Train hadn't left yet, two Bavarian police guys came in to an almost empty coach, asked me this time in German (surprisingly), "Haben Sie einen Reisepass dabei?" Caught me off guard, I was trying to get the passport out of the zipped up inside jacket pocket and was thinking why are you asking me for? I asked them why, (Warum, denn?)

When I handed over the passport, I made sure what they would see first was the "United States" front cover. They asked me if I was going to Munich. (Obviously, the train is heading to Munich, isn't it?)

In each of these "incidents" I was solo, and had it on me. If I were taking the RER to Versailles or St Germain-en-Laye (in 2018), I would most certainly not leave the hotel without the passport on me.

Posted by
5714 posts

A copy would not work for the extremely rare case they are actually targeting you for determining if you are in the country legally. Never happened to me in 60 years of international travel and I know no one to whom it has happened. The copy works for VAT in stores, for being admitted to hospitals and has on occasion worked for phone sim card business. If I travel out of town, I carry our passports in money belts; if I am spending a few weeks in Paris, they are at the apartment. If suddenly we hear lots of reports of routine bracing for papers on the streets and metros of Paris I will re-consider. If I were not an old white American woman but a young black man -- I'd calculate differently.

Of all the things to worry about this one is low low low on the list. I carry my passport card -- I'll let you know if I end up in jail some time because I don't have the passport on me.

Posted by
13 posts

I have been informed by our Rick Steves guide that, yes, it is a requirement to carry your passport. When the weather is not hot, my husband and I wear Scott-e-Vests, which I love. They have inner and outer pockets and are slimming (always a concern for me!) and hold everything I need. Unfortunately, they are not comfortable in the heat as they are made of nylon and have 2 layers. I don’t work for the company, by the way, just found them at a AAA travel store and liked it. Your phone fits, passport, credit cards, cash, small water bottle, even a pocket camera. And no one can steal it except in a serious confrontation. There is also a PacSafe purse/backpack option with various styles that have straps that cannot be cut.

Posted by
5714 posts

for those who don't like the tourist in a vest look, Scottevest.com makes all sorts of garments with hidden pockets. Several other companies like Travelsmith and Magellan also sell travel clothes with such features but especially in women's clothes they seem more and more to push knit plastics and fewer features.

Posted by
451 posts

I carry my passport card -- I'll let you know if I end up in jail
some time because I don't have the passport on me.

Touché!

Posted by
288 posts

Passports can be bought online in any name you want for as little as $10 if you know where to look (but I advise you don't...) This makes your passport virtually worthless to a pickpocket. If your passport is stolen it will be colateral damage and most likely just dumped. Keep it separate from your credit cards. I carry mine in the inside zip up pocket of my camera bag or back pack (depending on what I am carrying).

I always have my camera bag worn across my body and have my hand on it, my backpack is taken off in the metro system. (I have carried my backpack across Paris on the metro in rush hour with it not zipped up, but that's possibly not best practice. No damage was done)

Posted by
12117 posts

I don't keep all my plastic together either. Three credit cards are brought on the trip. I don't use a passport card.

Posted by
11436 posts

The family from Boise was most likely escorted to hotel to get their passports - not thrown in a dungeon

Posted by
1206 posts

When I checked into my AirBnB a couple of years ago in the 9th, my host told he himself was pick-pocketed on rue de Cadet, a hyper-touristy lane.

Posted by
5714 posts

All of Fred's examples involve crossing international borders; of course you always have a passport on you if you are crossing international borders. They are not usually checked but they can be and sometimes are. This is a different situation that wandering about a town where yoiu are spending time and the passport is safely stowed in the room safe.

Posted by
12117 posts

True, those examples involved crossing international borders.

Now, my policy to keep that passport on me since I'll have it if I decide spontaneously to hop on the train for a max of hour or so to go another town, say from Paris to Amiens, or Vienna to Wiener Neustadt, etc. or in eastern Germany where I may be "controlled"

Riding the RER r/t on the last trip I did 4 times, Paris to St Germain-en-Laye...no one checked at all.

Of course, a lot more tourists would be on the RER to Versailles, none were on the RER to St. Germaine-en-Laye.

Posted by
288 posts

Would the same attitude be taken if a French visitor to the US decided he wouldn't obey speed limit laws because they were inconvenient?

Posted by
119 posts

Thank you Simon (and Mark) for sharing your actual on-the-ground experiences and helping all of us potential visitors to France by letting us know that we need to carry our passports (or legal equivalent). It's not that hard--follow the law in the country you are visiting. Yes indeed US authorities would certainly not accept inconvenience as a reason for not obeying US law.

Posted by
3427 posts

Speeding has no correlation to not carrying ID.

Speeding can cause harm to other people if you lose control of your vehicle. Not carrying your passport does no harm to anyone, just inconvenience if you happen to be asked for it by police.

Posted by
1183 posts

Even in the U.S. you are expected to carry your passport. I couldn't get the link to work but here is a clip from a Canadian newspaper about carrying passports in the US. The article quotes an immigration lawyer. Technically, while in the U.S., a visitor must have documents on them at all times to show that they are in the country legally. Interesting last sentence in the quote though...

Technically, you’ve got to keep your papers with you at all times
while in the United States – while driving or anywhere else. And these
days, technicalities might matter.

“It’s pretty archaic, but there is a standard,” said Tim Golden, U.S.
practice director for Toronto immigration-law firm Green and Spiegel.
“It comes out of Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act …
you are obligated to be carrying with you the evidence that you used
to enter into the United States.”

According to that section, if you don’t have the passport or other
documents you used to get into the United States, you could face a
maximum US$100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

“But the reality is, have we ever seen it [enforced]? Never,” said
immigration lawyer Evan Green, a partner in the firm.

Posted by
5714 posts

Hilarious to compare speed laws to carrying particular ID. Speeding kills people. Of course visitors to the US should carry their papers because we are now a country with abusive immigration police; a few years ago it was no issue. If the French actually start bracing random tourists on the street for their papers, then we will be forced to do so.

Some people are really really really invested in directing the behavior of other people. some use common sense.

Posted by
3427 posts

have we ever seen it [enforced]? Never,” said immigration lawyer Evan Green

Well, here is once where the law was enforced, and enforced very aggressively:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/22/jogger-detained-us-border-cedella-roman-immigration-ordeal

Two weeks in immigration detention for being one step over the line. This shows complete lack of common sense in our government officials. They saw the person cross the line, wearing only her jogging outfit not carrying anything and then she immediately turned back. 4 years ago, they would have scolded her and let her go, or just ignored it completely.

Posted by
288 posts

janettravels44
maybe you should read my original post.

Terrorism kills people. Thats why the checks are becoming more and more frequent.

Posted by
2837 posts

Would the same attitude be taken if a French visitor to the US decided he wouldn't obey speed limit laws because they were inconvenient?

If the French visitor did so, he'd be in the company of about 90% of American drivers.

Posted by
1400 posts

It's not that hard--follow the law in the country you are visiting.

Except there seems to be an inability to post an actual link to the language of the law. Even OP claims "French law requires you to carry photo ID issued by your government at all times. (edit - NATIONAL government)" ... so again, do the many experienced American travelers who leave their passports in their room and take their national-government issued ID cards run afoul of this? Are we lawbreakers? Based on the language provided, a national ID card issued by the US appears to fulfill this requirement.

And if we want to argue Safety and Security in the Scary Days of Terrorism™, a passport does not provide anything that a national ID card doesn't. At the end of the day, if the police have a question about something, a stamp in a passport that could be forged for $5 would not be the authoritative source of information, their computerized border control system would be. Just as the computerized system would be the source to determine whether a German in France who presents a national ID card is there legally - and no, just being a member of the EU doesn't give you the right to stay indefinitely in any other EU country, you have to register after 90 days and in some cases declare that you intend to register on entry. So if we are going to get all tetchy and legalistic with US citizens, then the same standard needs to be applied to EU citizens as well.

So to wrap up, French police looking at passports or IDs and not using their computerized systems to check each ID is classic "Security Theater" and please don't pretend otherwise, and please don't act like 99.9% of the time a drivers license or copy of a passport won't fulfill the requirements of Security Theater for the French Police, who damn well know they are engaged in theater.

Posted by
288 posts

"Apart from any identity check, the police can invite a foreigner to present his papers. He must always have the document authorizing his stay in France:

a passport bearing a valid visa (except if the passpost comes from nation with special dispensation*) for a stay of 90 days maximum,
or a residence permit or a long-stay visa (or a receipt or temporary residence permit) for a stay of more than 3 months."

*a passport from a country where a visa isn't required to visit France.

It's not too hard to see this means you must carry your passport with you at all timesif you are from outside France. The source is the French Government's own website. https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F31208

What was the question again?

Posted by
288 posts

Checks are getting more frequent. Mine was. VERY closely. Even though it is a French ID document. It's why I carry both my UK passport and my French ID card.

So far this year I have been asked for ID, and seen others being asked for ID. Not near a border, on an ordinary bus in the French countryside. I have seen IDs being checked in Metro stations, and near Notre Dame (also last week). I have also seen checks at Saint Pierre des Corps station. ID checks are getting more frequent. I find it far easier not to upset a group of young men and women who may or may not be bored and looking for something to justify them standing out in the sun in the middle of nowhere.

Things change. What didn't use to happen now happens.

Posted by
5823 posts

These checks have little if anything to do with terrorism. It's about illegal migration and law enforcement being seen to be doing "something", whether there is much point to that "something" or not. Any potential terrorist worth his/her salt will be carrying the correct documentation.

Posted by
10984 posts

We dont have to obey French law if we know we can get away with it do we? Or if we find it inconvenient? Or if we are concerned about losing our passport? After all the law is silly, so it shouldn't apply to us, and we are spending money and we want to be there, so our own terms should apply; correct? After all these laws are for criminals and I'm not a criminal. Well, not just because i am breaking a law that shouldn't be a law .... at least not for me. And what do you mean I have to pay for the metro. Half of Paris jumps the turnstile and after all I'm an American tourist and ....

If you are worried about loosing your passport or otherwise don't want to deal with it, stay home.

Posted by
119 posts

Well said, James E. And Simon, thanks for hanging in here and sharing what you are seeing and experiencing in France right now. I appreciate the information.

Posted by
775 posts

I am in complete agreement with Michele. Today I was "controlled" on the #20 bus between Belleville and Republique. I always carry my passport. It's the law.

Posted by
1400 posts

Wow, sounds like France has turned into a police state. What a coincidence that so many people with such law and order opinions on everything are being controlled all at the same time. Sounds like I need to reconsider my need to visit, not that France is particularly high on the list anyway.

Posted by
775 posts

"Wow, sounds like France has turned into a police state"

Enforcing laws already on the books, makes a country a police state?

Posted by
2556 posts

"Today I was "controlled" on the #20 bus between Belleville and Republique. I always carry my passport. It's the law."
Were you asked to show your passport? Were you asked to prove you are in France legally? Was this some kind of immigration stop or was this a ticket check done by RATP inspectors?

Posted by
775 posts

All were asked. Because of recent events the "profiling" that existed previously in stops of this type has been discontinued and all seem to be checked now. At least that's what I saw and friends have reported. My passport was looked at quickly. An immigration check .Tickets not asked for as this was not RATP. Belleville with its big immigrant population would obviously be a target. Maybe it's where one is in Paris. I suppose people in the less gritty areas and 8th and 16th won't have this problem.

Posted by
12117 posts

Bravo...equal opportunity checking !

I have started taking buses much more than the Metro on the last two trips in Paris, ie 2018 and 2017 and will be looking forward and expecting the controllers to come on board. Still, as of early June 2018, I was never checked in Paris either on the bus, the TER train, say to Meaux or Fontainebleau, or the RER.

In Germany I've seen often enough controllers on the S-Bahn checking tickets. They didn't ask for passports though.

Posted by
2436 posts

Thanks Simon and Mark. I will have to modify my usual practice of leaving my passport in my room when in France(and Italy).

I don't see the French practice as being a "police state". They have every right to make sure that I am in their country legally while they allow me to move freely around their country.

Posted by
2556 posts

@75020, Thank you for responding. Things change and what was okay a few years ago may no longer be okay. And what may be okay for certain people, people who will get the breaks from officials for whatever reason or may never be stopped for those same reasons, may not be okay for others. I used to leave my passport at home but in the last three years or so after I learned of the legal requirement I have started carrying my passport on my person. We used to leave the children's passports locked in the luggage but our daughter who turned 21 in December carried her passport for our family trip this summer. She and I have an advantage because we both travel with crossbody purses with hidden back zippered pockets that we put the passports in and zip up and they stay there until needed. Even my husband who for years refused to carry his passport after we landed because of a pickpocketing incident in Barcelona carried his passport this summer in a belt wallet because a friend of ours was "controlled" last fall. Maybe, we'd take the chance if we looked different. But, I was brought up to avoid putting myself into a situation where a law enforcement officer has to do me a favor or give me break to let me go on my way. I agree with cala -- it's not a police state to ask for ID.

Posted by
230 posts

@ James E

We dont have to obey French law if we know we can get away with it do
we? Or if we find it inconvenient? Or if we are concerned about losing
our passport? After all the law is silly, so it shouldn't apply to us,
and we are spending money and we want to be there, so our own terms
should apply; correct? After all these laws are for criminals and I'm
not a criminal. Well, not just because i am breaking a law that
shouldn't be a law .... at least not for me. And what do you mean I
have to pay for the metro. Half of Paris jumps the turnstile and after
all I'm an American tourist and ....

If you are worried about loosing your passport or otherwise don't want
to deal with it, stay home.

Okay, well SHOW me where it is the law in France that you must carry your passport with you at all times. ID, yes, passport, not necessarily. In fact the last time I was there for an extended stay I was told NOT to carry it around with me. So yeah, I'll carry my International Driver's Permit which has my photo ID, but if I'm sightseeing in the city for the day (the same city where I'm staying) then I'm leaving my passport in the hotel. Do you have a problem with that? I can pretty much assure you that the French authorities have better things to do than hassle every tourist they encounter over whether or not their passport is on their person. I'll have a copy of it on my phone, along with my other ID, and I won't be worried one bit.

And no, I WON'T stay home!

Posted by
2239 posts

It's just incredible to me how hard some will work to avoid playing by the rules. We're (mostly) Americans, I guess, so we're special?

An excerpt from Simon's citation of French law, Google Translated:

"Apart from any identity check, the police can invite a foreigner to present his papers. He must always have the document authorizing his stay in France:

a passport bearing a valid visa (except if it is part of the nationalities dispensed) for a stay of 90 days maximum,
or a residence permit or a long-stay visa (or a receipt or temporary residence permit) for a stay of more than 3 months.

The control can only take place on public roads, in public places or open to the public (railway stations, airports, cafes, etc.)."

Thanks, I'll carry my Passport. Sheesh.

Posted by
12117 posts

All the trips in the 1970s to 1999, (ten of them) I never carried a copy of the passport, didn't see as necessary, was not goping to lose the passport anyway, etc. In 2007 I carried a copy of it in the luggage just to get a friend of mine off my back who had been bugging me to do so on and on. Since then I have a copy in the spinner but certainly not on me to show to controllers on the train...they get to see the US Passport itself.

Posted by
10984 posts

Other police states include Belgium and most every Eastern European country.

Im no feeking saint. I carry my passport about half the time when I am in Hungary. Its the law, but I get lazy. But the question is: should you? The answer is; yes! There is no forgiving excuse for anything else. If you dont and there is an issue, its your fault and you get what ever comes to you. You also could be responsible for tieing up the time of everyone else on the bus, or what ever.

Did someone imply that people who break the law should not be "judged". I dont know if I should laugh or cry. I think I will laugh.

Posted by
7180 posts

Really? Is this thread still going?? It’s time to “Let It Go”.

Posted by
451 posts

janettravels44:

Some people are really really really invested in directing the
behavior of other people. some use common sense.

Emma:

Any potential terrorist worth his/her salt will be carrying the
correct documentation.

Robert:

If the French visitor did so, he'd be in the company of about 90% of
American drivers.

Touché to you three (and other common-sense, non-judgemental posters).

Posted by
288 posts

lisalu910
there are mul;tiple posts in this thread that link to the French Law about being able to prove you are in the country legall.y

I will repost opne of them for you

"Apart from any identity check, the police can invite a foreigner to present his papers. He must always have the document authorizing his stay in France:

a passport bearing a valid visa (except if the passpost comes from nation with special dispensation*) for a stay of 90 days maximum,
or a residence permit or a long-stay visa (or a receipt or temporary residence permit) for a stay of more than 3 months."

*a passport from a country where a visa isn't required to visit France.

It's not too hard to see this means you must carry your passport with you at all timesif you are from outside France. The source is the French Government's own website. https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F31208

Posted by
230 posts

Well I'm not carrying my actual passport with me everywhere I go, I will carry a copy like I always do. And I will not (as someone else suggested) "just stay home."

I have spent many months in France - nearly a year - traveling between cities by every major conveyance, and was never ONCE asked for my passport after leaving the airport. So long as I'm in the same city with my passport it stays locked up in my room.

Unlike some of you, I have actually found the French authorities pretty understanding when it comes to tourists "gaffes," i.e. not understanding/forgetting that you have to validate a train ticket before boarding or something like that. It has happened to me, and they have always let it slide with no fuss. So I'm not worried!

PS...also, the last time I was in France for an extended Study Abroad trip, we were specifically told by the French university that we should NOT carry our passports around. They made a point of that. And I'm sure they knew what they were talking about! :)

Posted by
288 posts

lisalu910 I used to travel in the US by just arriving at the airport, running to the gate my plane was at, and getting on board. Do you suggest I still do it that way now?

The laws have changed.

Posted by
230 posts

@ Simon

You can do whatever you want! And I can do whatever I want!

If I get arrested in France because I don't have my passport (only a copy) with me, I'll come back here and let you know how you were right and I was wrong - okay?

Posted by
1199 posts

Thanks for the heads-up, but I'm definitely not carrying my passport on my person, only a copy. I've been to Europe 11 times for something like 200 total days. A cop has approached me once. And that was a cop outside a gelotto place in Florence who wanted to see my receipt.

Posted by
2556 posts

Will this thread get to 100 posts? Over what is ultimately a non-issue in the sense that we cannot tell others what to do. Some people will carry their passports and others will not. It's a risk assessment. I carry mine these days. Others do not. They have made their own risk assessment and made their own choices. Now, as long there is no whining if that assessment turns out to be incorrect and it will be all good.

Posted by
288 posts

I wasn't telling anyone what they should do - I was saying that:

a The law has changed, and

b they are enforcing it.

People are saying that isn't the case, why that shouldn't be the case, why it is wrong yadda yadda yadda

It's a law, treat it like you would any other law

Posted by
8293 posts

I suspect that most of those who refuse to always have their passports with them when in France or Italy, also never obtain the Int’l Drivers’ Permit, either, for their rental car. Hey, you probably will not need it so what the heck ........ too much trouble, too much of a nuisance, etc.

Posted by
974 posts

Norma, being from Quebec you don't require an IDP to drive in France.

I try to carry as little as possible.

Posted by
12117 posts

Bravo...they are enforcing this now in France !