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Checking ID when using credit card in Europe?

I'm wondering if shop owners or waiters ask to see ID when you use a credit card to pay in Europe. I don't want to have my passport out. My husband and I are planning to get International Driver's Licenses - will this work? How common is the practice of checking ID's?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
446 posts

"How common is the practice of checking ID's?"

I have personally never had anyone in Europe ask for ID when using a credit card.

Regardless, you should always either carry your passport with you anyway, or if you put it in your hotel's safe, a copy of your passport.

Posted by
7209 posts

I've only been asked for ID when I made a request for the VAT refund paperwork at a department store. I carry a color photo copy of my passport and that worked fine. Your normal drivers license would probably also work. An IDP is just a flimsy piece of cardboard with a passport photo stuck inside...definitely not the best bet for id.

I've never been asked for id at a restaurant because I only use cash at restaurants - my credit card never leaves my sight.

Posted by
1574 posts

Like Tim said, a normal drivers license works just fine.

Posted by
23465 posts

I have encountered it from time to time and it appears to be very random. A department store in Spain, a grocery store in Italy plus a couple of others over the years. I just use my passport. The International Driver's PERMIT is not a license and is not identification.

Posted by
9109 posts

My experience is that ID was always requested in Paris; at all merchants I used it at. My New York State drivers license was accepted without any problems. Never had it happen anywhere else in Europe.

Posted by
77 posts

We had a clerk request an ID in a Monoprix in Paris because we weren't using a chip & PIN credit card. I can't remember if we showed a passport or a US Drivers' License. A photocopy of your passport will probably work; in this instance it was matching our face to the name on the credit card. I agree with the previous poster who said the IDP is not useful as identification.

Posted by
30 posts

Thanks all - sounds good. We haven't gotten the drivers permits yet so I didn't know what form they would be in. One of the last things on my list of "to dos".

Posted by
9041 posts

I get asked occasionally at department stores. Any kind of photo ID with your name on it is going to work. I don't have a drivers license, so use military ID. Have even used my gym card too.

Posted by
446 posts

"I'm just curious as to whether anyone else has an ATM/check card with their photo on it?"

That's an optional feature at Bank of America that you can request by going to a bank branch and having them take your photo. My card doesn't have the photo.

Some other banks no doubt will do the same thing, but I don't think in general it is very common. I suppose it could theoretically give you better fraud protection, in case you lost your card and somebody tried to use it, but I think it's more of a bank marketing ploy than anything else -- designed to convince you that the bank is serious about security.

Posted by
104 posts

I did alot of shopping in Paris and not a single shop owner asked me for I.D. for my credit card. Some did ask to see my passport for VAT tax refund but I forgot to bring it with me (husband had it while off at the Catacombs...oops). The shop keepers said no problem just make sure I put the number on the VAT tax form before the airport.

Posted by
97 posts

I'm just curious as to whether anyone else has an ATM/check card with their photo on it? MY BofA card has my photo, but I probably won't be using that card much as it has more fees if I use it abroad. But here in the states, no one has asked for ID when I use it, even though the picture is dark and distorted so my head looks short and fat.

Posted by
769 posts

I always write "ASK FOR ID" in the signature line and never sign them. They dont have my pict on them. A couple weeks ago in the Zurich Airport Duty Free the lady looked and said technically they are not allowed to accept "unsigned" cards... (but she did). So I explained my logic of the safer security to show ID vs sharing my signature which anyone could copy! It seemed to be a new concept to her. But no one else asked that I could remember in Euroland.!

Posted by
2744 posts

I bought a t-shirt for my son at a store in Paris (I think it was a Nike store) and they asked to see my passport. I think that was the only time, and I thought it was odd. It was just a t-shirt.