Provided that a person travels within the EU, what is the purpose of verifying the passport? I presume that the company just needs to be sure that I use my own ticket. So why do not they accept a driver's license, for example? Or some other kind of ID?

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    Can you give an example, where the airline asked for passport for an EU internal flight during boarding? I've never encountered that.
    – dunni
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 8:56
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    What do you mean by boarding? Entering the plane or entering the gate?
    – nsn
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 8:59
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    Speaking of EU: there are border controls in EU and you need to have a visa to enter UK (as an example). So you have to present your passposrt with a valid UK visa. Speaking of Schengen area: they don't. A lot of people here travelled across Schengen area without showing any ID. And since you're speaking of Tallinn and Riga, the reason maybe just a local desire to control everything and look important. In Moscow's airports you have to present you ID/passport and boarding pass at almost every doorway(!) on your way from check-in counter to the gate.
    – Neusser
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 9:05
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    Note that just because there is no (regular) border control, doesn't mean that you don't need to bring an ID when travelling to another country. Here you can see that it's "highly advised" to bring an ID when travelling and that Schengen countries may even make carrying an ID an obligation. It also explicitly states that a driver's license is not a valid ID
    – Sabine
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 9:37
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    When you say EU, I think you mean Schengen area. You will need a passport to travel from say France (in Schengen, in EU) to Ireland (outside Schengen, in EU), but not France to Switzerland (in Schengen, outside EU).
    – thelem
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 15:49

3 Answers 3


Airlines ask for a passport, but they don't expect you would necessarily have a passport. They are asking for a travel document of which passport is an example. Most if not all airlines have conditions of carriage, in which they define which travel documents are valid, but at least in the EU an identity card is accepted. If you want to know more specifically about a certain airline, I would recommend you to read their conditions of carriage.

Specifically to EU, companies are not required to check travel documents, but many still do. This is especially typical to low cost carriers as legacy airlines don't tend to check them as often.

  • I'd be amazed if I could board any commercial passenger plane without proving my identity. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 14:00
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    @PeterA.Schneider In Europe it is extremely common. I've flown dozens of flights in Europe without having to prove my identity at the gate. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 14:07
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    @PeterA.Schneider , aside from TSA, entering a domestic flight in the US does not require ID. You could buy multiple tickets, and use one to go through TSA security, and then board another flight; that is legal and no issue.
    – Aganju
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 14:14
  • So you mean I could buy a ticket and give it to somebody else? Like, they would not have a passenger manifest? When the plane crashes, they don't know who was on board? They don't know whether all checked luggage's owners are on board? Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 14:16
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    @PeterA.Schneider In practice it can be done, but it violates the conditions of carriage. You can also never know beforehand if travel documents are checked at the gate, sometimes carriers do it but often they don't. Regarding luggage an airline knows if the boarding pass associated with the luggage has boarded or not. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 14:25

I fell in the same situation a year ago. I showed my EU driver's license at check in desk but was refused checking in because the clerk stated that driver's license does not show nationality. Then I gave her my national ID card and everything was ok.

First, the question "please show me your passport" is likely a mantra as stated by @Lassi. Just like when you are checked tickets in a bus but officers ask you to show passes, please (in the sense of the monthly/seasonal pass used by frequent commuters).

Anyone can get a driver's license in any EU country regardless of his/her nationality. So the driver's license can never be accepted because does not prove EU citizenship. Only the ability to drive a motor vehicle of corresponding EU category.

Now to Schengen agreement: while it is commonly called to be "no borders" (and no checks) between countries, mind that freedom of circulation in Schengen space is a right granted only to Schengen citizens. So you basically have to prove the airline that you are a Schengen citizen to travel the Schengen area.

That is what was told me.

  • Also, there are exceptions to the "no checks between countries" upon arrival as well. For example, when travelling from Palermo to Lyon last year, everyone's passport was checked upon arrival. And Sweden has had passport controls when arriving by train from Denmark for the last couple of years.
    – Michael
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 16:46
  • "driver's license does not show nationality": why is nationality relevant for an internal flight? Are there actual laws that require airlines to check whether their passengers are authorized to cross internal Schengen borders? There's certainly nothing on the topic in the Schengen codes, nor even any provisions relating to what is necessary for a third-country national to cross an internal border.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 12:05
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    "freedom of circulation in Schengen space is a right granted only to Schengen citizens": and other EU citizens. But actually, the Schengen Borders Code and the Lisbon treaty on which it is based refer to "free movement of persons," not of citizens. The point is to reduce friction at internal borders. Requiring a check of immigration status is friction that is at odds with the stated aim. The free movement of noncitizens across internal borders is implied by the free movement of citizens, because if noncitizens' movement is restricted, citizens would have to be subjected to controls.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 12:22

Because the only country in the world where a drivers license is an identification document is the USA. In the rest of the civilized world a passport or a national ID card are the only valid identifcation documents.

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    In fact, the USA isn't the only such country. Canada, for one, doesn't have national ID cards either. Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 21:50
  • Also in Europe, where there are ID cards in most countries, driving licenses are often used for day to day identification. Not always officially allowed but still often used.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 8:43
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    Nonsense. In France for example, you can prove your identity any way you like – it's the law. Passports and ID cards are only examples of how to prove it. Driver's license, social security card, a bus pass with a photo, etc are all valid ways of proving your identity. If stopped in the street and asked to prove your identity, you can even ask someone vouch for you. Please don't post such blatant disinformation. If you don't know, just don't say anything.
    – N.I.
    Commented Jul 14, 2018 at 8:53

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