5

I was last in Paris in 2006. Back then, when I asked my French host if I should carry my passport with me while I was out sightseeing, they rolled their eyes and said: "Why on earth would you do that? It will just be a huge hassle if you loose it to a pickpocket."

I'm going to visit Paris again soon, and I've seen a few posts here that seem to indicate that Parisian police do occasionally stop people on the streets and ask for their ID, and that passports are the only acceptable form of ID for folks from outside the EU.

Should I just leave my passport in my hotel room safe, or should I keep it with me (in a suitably pickpocket resistant wallet)?

I've seen near-duplicates of this question for the UK, Schengen area, and Japan, but haven't seen Paris come up specifically.

Clarification:

To my mind this isn't as simple as "Carry it with you, better safe, than sorry!". Paris does have something of a problem with pickpockets (as do many large tourist heavy cities), and passports are a high value item. I'm looking for informed opinion of the relative risks of carrying my passport on my person, vs annoying security officers. My relative ranking of annoyance, from less annoying to highly annoying would be:

  1. Being scolded by a police officer for not having suitable ID on my person
  2. Having to return to my hotel to show my passport to a police officer
  3. Having my passport stolen or loosing it.
  4. Being fined for not having suitable ID on my person.
  5. Being detained for not having suitable ID on my person.

I'm really asking which is (roughly) more likely: (3) or (4)?

  • Yes if that will make you comfortable. I don’t. – user 56513 Jul 21 '18 at 2:40
  • Expats has a useful post, but it doesn't answer the question fully. expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/994/… – Martin Jevon Jul 21 '18 at 8:25
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    Hotel room safes are notoriously easy to break into. There's probably less chance you lose your passport to a pickpocket. – Laconic Droid Jul 21 '18 at 12:55
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    @LaconicDroid while hotel safes are notoriously easy to break into, the chance of someone armed with the knowledge and intention to do so entering a Paris hotel room is far smaller than that of a tourist encountering a pickpocket on a Paris street. – phoog Jul 21 '18 at 15:22
  • If you look Caucasian I wouldn't bother carrying it. Otherwise I'd carry a copy. – JonathanReez Jul 21 '18 at 17:30
5

Given that it is legal and not uncommon to be asked by French police to show proof of identity, and that the valid proof of identity for a non-EU traveler is the passport, you should definitely carry your passport with yourself while sightseeing in Paris.

If you are asked to show proof of identity and don't carry your passport, things can go from 'ok, go on' to being kept under police control until you can prove your identity. This will depend on the police mood, the context, your attitude and appearance.

I cannot tell the chances that it will actually happen, or the odds compared to having your passport stolen.

As for some mitigating measures against passport theft or loss:

  • Keep a copy of your passport at the hotel. That will help if you need to have it re-issued.
  • Keep your passport close to you (not in a backpack or purse). I use a small pouch that is under my clothes and suspended to my neck. That is also where I keep my Visa card.

Enjoy your stay in Paris!

  • Now I'm beginning to question myself for basically never bringing my passport or carte de sejour with me. I've lived in Paris for nearly 3 years. – la femme cosmique Jul 21 '18 at 10:44
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    @lafemmecosmique I'd say that your experience argues in favor of keeping the passport in the hotel: the chance of being asked to show it is infinitesimal, especially compared to the chance of loss or theft, and the consequences likely minimal. – phoog Jul 21 '18 at 15:28
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    @phoog I keep a photo of my CDS on my phone "in case", but nobody has ever asked me for it (except for the prefecture when renewing my carte de sejour, of course...). But YMMV - I am a white lady, maybe this changes things. – la femme cosmique Jul 21 '18 at 17:02
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    I do not necessarily want to dispute the conclusion but the page you link to most definitely does not state that the passport is “the valid proof of identity” for a non-EU traveler. The main reason why a passport might be useful and why things are different for someone from outside the EU is that, beyond their identity, they also need to prove their status (situation administrative) as explained on another page. – Relaxed Aug 16 '18 at 21:18
  • @Relaxed : feel free to edit the answer appropriately. – audionuma Aug 19 '18 at 6:43
1

I would think that if there is a chance of it happening, it would certainly be wise and in your best interest, for you to have it with you just in case something were to happen. Best case scenario would of course be that you simply do not need to have it on you and have no problem and aren't stopped.

Worst case scenario? You do end up stopped and you are glad to have brought it with.

Edit: perhaps if you'll have a briefcase or some sort of bag with and on your person at all times, that would be a secure location in which to store it.

  • Umm ... during my first visit to Paris my laptop bag was stolen when my attention lapsed for a few moments. – Charles E. Grant Jul 21 '18 at 4:03
  • Was it physically on you? What were you distracted by? Note: I'm not a traveler, just trying to give ideas and suggestions. – prayreadgame Jul 21 '18 at 4:10
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    If I were carrying my passport to keep it safe, especially in a touristy area like Montmartre, where I've been only four or five times but always see suspect groups hassling tourists, I would carry it under my clothes in a money belt or similar. But actually I'd leave it in the hotel. – phoog Jul 21 '18 at 15:31
-1

(Canadian here and mostly anecdotal)

I've never been asked for ID in Europe in all my travel there (france, spain, italy).

When doing tourist things, I keep my passport in my hotel/rental. If I need to do official things (renting car, train, ...) I will bring my passport.

I have printed picture of my passport in my bag (and on my phone)

I always carry identification with picture (driver's license, medical card...)

  • European here, I have also never been asked for my passport while traveling but I DO NOT leave it in my hotel or whatever. I KNOW I have to carry it with me in many European countries and do not trust my hotel room more than an 'under clothing' pouch. – Willeke Jul 21 '18 at 11:00
  • @Willeke Which countries do you have in mind? The Netherlands is the only one I know. Contrary to popular belief, it most definitely isn't mandatory to carry ID with you in either France or Germany for example. – Relaxed Aug 16 '18 at 21:21

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