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I have some travel plans to go from Netherlands to France by car. I possess Dutch residence permit, but I am non-EU citizen. The problem is that I might need to submit my passport to get visa to another country I plan to go to later. So I have: residence permit and photocopy of my passport. Is it

  1. legal to cross borders by car with this set of documents
  2. what are possible fines and other repercussions if police or other authorities ask for my documents in France or Belgium?
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I think the question is, if you have a dutch residence but not Schengen visa, can you still drive across the border of Netherlands to Belgium or Germany or do you need to get a Schengen visa first? – user19138 Aug 8 '14 at 18:46
@Karen no, it is not the question. Residence permit legally gives you right to travel across Schengen area. What is not clear is that is it sufficient or you need passport with it. Dutch/EU nationals can travel with just their National ID, I think residence permit is not really an ID on its own, and non-EU folk possibly have to carry passports. – Andrey Aug 8 '14 at 21:32
@Karen actually Gilles' explains it very well. – Andrey Aug 8 '14 at 21:33
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Legally speaking, you need a valid passport or equivalent travel document to cross any border of a Schengen state, whether it's an inner or outer border of the Schengen area. I can't find a list of equivalent travel documents for France, but the one for Italy only lists “exotic” alternatives — documents for refugees, for seafarers, etc. (Nationals of an EU country and a few others need only an identity card).

In practice, borders inside the Schengen area are not equipped for systematic checks and there is a high likelihood that you'll just drive through without even noticing that you've passed the border. There are (or used to be) occasional checks for drug smuggling on the road from the Netherlands to France; I doubt that it's a problem if all you can show is a driving license. It's better if you have your residence permit and a photocopy of your passport — with these documents, it would take exceptional to get into trouble.

As far as I know, there is no direct penalty for not carrying an identity document in France. (I know that for nationals; I think it's also true for non-nationals.) There is an obligation that you must be able to prove your identity upon request (technically, the request has to be justified, but in practice a police officer can always find a pretext). As a non-national, you'd also have to prove your right to be there, as otherwise you could be detained and expelled. Again, with a proof of identity such as a driving license, plus a copy of your passport and residence permit, you are very unlikely to get into trouble.

The one thing you cannot reliably do without a passport is fly. All commercial airlines require a passport (or identity card), even for Schengen internal flights. They often don't check, but if they do, they're likely to not let you board the flight if you don't have documentation that's acceptable to them.

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Isn't the requirement to show an id card on flight boarding been abolished in the EU? I've recently often flown on international, but intra-schengen flights without being checked for id when checking in or boarding. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 15 '14 at 21:14
@Tor-EinarJarnbjo Indeed, there is no legal requirements. But airlines have their own (I think to prevent ticket resales). It's true that they don't always check, but when they do, they tend to be very strict. – Gilles Apr 15 '14 at 21:18
The system hasn't been fully implemented on all German airports, but if you travel with Lufthansa e.g. from Munich on an etix, you can both check-in and deposit your luggage using automates and board through a separate automatic lane at the gate. You won't speak to a Lufthansa employee before you are greeted by the stewardess in the plane. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 15 '14 at 21:27
Checks around borders are carried out by local police, they are not migration authorities. That's what I heard about Dutch-German border. I think Dutch-Belgium border is most chilled out one in Europe, it was abolished even before Schengen. – Andrey Apr 15 '14 at 21:45
@DavidRicherby The latter, since the question is about driving from the Netherlands to France, which obviously refers to the mainland in the absence of any specific mention of overseas territories. Do you have a point? – Gilles Aug 9 '14 at 23:34

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