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If one takes a direct flight from one Schengen member state to another, what's the minimum sufficient ID that needs to be provided to board the flight?

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I am sure this was asked, can't find it now... – Heidel Ber Gensis May 20 '14 at 16:44
What is your citizenship, and if non-EU/EEA, your visa status? – Gilles May 20 '14 at 19:15
It is important to note that there is no immigration (or emigfration) check by "state authorities" taking place, we are talking about identity control by airlines. One should also compare this with travel document requirements for flights within a (Schengen or other) country. – Hagen von Eitzen May 20 '14 at 20:17
As a german guy who travels all the time between Zurich and Berlin I only need my ID if I'm checkin at the airport. If I used the web checkin, no one is interested in any documents, only the boarding pass... – Fabian Blechschmidt May 20 '14 at 21:03
Also, some people really do not have the right to cross intra-Schengen borders (e.g. people who have applied for a residence permit but haven't got it yet or with limited territorial validity visas) so formally citizenship and status could make a difference, irrespective of the way the border looks like. There are extensive rules (like the ones about residence permits and long-stay visas) to allow most people to move around but it's simply not true that having the right to stay in a Schengen country in and of itself entails the right to cross a border with another Schengen country. – Relaxed May 21 '14 at 17:34
up vote 7 down vote accepted

It depends on the airline's terms and conditions and potentially between exactly which Schengen countries you are traveling.

The EU regulation requiring id control for flight passengers has been abolished, but there may still be national regulations in effect, requiring airlines to check theirs passengers' identity. Many airlines also require passengers to present a valid id at check-in or when boarding independent of any official requirements and often operate with different lists of documents, which are accepted as "valid ids". In many cases, the id check is probably performed by the airline, just to prevent tickets to be used by other persons than the actual holder.

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I have been able to board a flight from Switzerland to the Netherlands with a driver's license from a third country, and Dutch health insurance and bank cards. I didn't plan for it and went up to the counter at the gate as soon as I realized I had lost my ID (this being an intra-Schengen flight, I didn't have to show it before) and after a discussion between all employees present and a phone call to a supervisor, they decided to let me through with a warning that they “wouldn't be responsible if I got in trouble on the other end”. It's just an anecdote but it shows that

  1. a driver's license is not routinely accepted by every airline as trying to use it created quite a stir (I also don't remember ever witnessing anybody showing anything else than a plastic card looking like a national ID card or a passport-like booklet)
  2. you might still get lucky sometimes (which I am pretty sure wouldn't happen on a flight outside the EU or even to the UK).

Since there is no passport check on arrival, I went home without problems. I have never been asked for ID at the destination after the many intra-Schengen flights I took in the last few years. But that does not imply that everybody who is already in the area has a right to cross borders or that airlines have to let you board if you don't have a national ID card or travel document.

I do not know if airline/ground handling personnel generally care about your visa status or if they could be somehow held responsible in the unlikely event that the authorities notice they carried someone who did not have the right to enter the destination country (as they can be for other international flights). I never noticed anyone looking at another page than the ID page in passports but obviously that's not very strong evidence.

Importantly, I have perused them many times and I don't think there are any dispositions about that in the Schengen agreement, the convention implementing it, the relevant EU regulations or the Handbook produced by the Commission. To the extent that flying without a national ID or passport is possible, it would be because of local laws, airlines rules or tolerance, it's not something that was explicitly intended as an important part of the Schengen process.

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Officially you need travel documents, which are either passport or national ID. These and only these.

Even if you don't need a passport for border checks within the Schengen area, it is still always highly recommended to take a passport or ID card with you, so you can prove your identity if needed (if stopped by police, boarding a plane, etc.). Schengen EU countries have the possibility of adopting national rules obliging you to hold or carry papers and documents when you are present on their territory.

Driving licences, post, bank or tax cards are not accepted as valid travel documents or proof of identity.

source: Travel documents for EU nationals

Identity checks are done by airline personnel, so you might get lucky some airlines may accept other documents, like residency card or drivers licence, others may not. I've had nasty surprise when RyanAir didn't let me travel with Spanish residency card, which was not a problem for other airlines on same route like Iberia or AirEuropa. But IMHO better safe than sorry.

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(+1) Note that the page in question is pretty vague and does not specifically address air transport. Unfortunately, it's difficult to get more definitive information than that. – Relaxed May 20 '14 at 16:52
@vartec: When you booked your Ryanair ticket, I am pretty sure that you had to confirm that you have read their terms and conditions. If you had done so, you would have known that a Spanish residency card is not sufficient as identity card. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 20 '14 at 17:01
"Officially you need travel documents, which are either passport or national ID. These and only these." From which source do you have this statement? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 20 '14 at 17:04
Your source directly contradicts your opening statement. Quoting the previous sentence from the source: “If you are an EU national, you do not need to show your national ID card or passport when you are travelling from one border-free Schengen EU country to another”. A valid passport, ID card or other travel document is recommended, but any means of proving your EU citizenship to the requester's satisfaction is legally sufficient. The recommendation of official ID is because of the inherent uncertainty of the requester's satisfaction. Airlines may have their own, more restrictive conditions. – Gilles May 20 '14 at 19:14

You can fly without any ID at all in some of the Northern Europe countries...

Source: I was there last month and I did it multiple times!

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Why did it shock you that you could fly from Denmark to Norway without showing any id? Immigration controls between Denmark and Norway have been abolished since 1954. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 19 at 11:27
-1 You are just trying to push a political agenda by linking to that blogpost. – ptityeti May 19 at 13:27
While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review – CGCampbell May 19 at 14:11
@Tor-EinarJarnbjo it appears he was able to board the plane without showing ID. The worry is that this is a security risk because Lars the terrorist could buy a ticket in the name of Anders the pacifist and then hijack the plane. – phoog May 19 at 14:30
"Why did it shock you that you could fly from Denmark to Norway without showing any id?" Hmmm.... let me think. Well number one those countries are filled with muslim terrorists and rapists... and number requiring ID to fly has nothing to do with whether there are border controls, it's just common sane practice. There are no border controls between New York and Washington DC but even before terrorism was a big thing you still needed ID to fly. Are Europeans really this stupid? Judging by what's happening to Western Europe, I guess they are! – M3498 May 22 at 8:00

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