When do I need to carry my passport. When I am within walking distance of where I am staying, to another close city on a day-trip, etc.

  • 1
    What country are you staying in?
    – Xnero
    Jan 1 '19 at 20:28
  • Mostly Italy currently but also Switzerland, France, Netherlands, UK.
    – zaph
    Jan 1 '19 at 20:46
  • 4
    I've been to over 40 countries including the one's you mentioned. I never carry my passport on a daily basis: the risk of it getting lost, damaged or stolen, IMO far outweighs the risk of having to explain "it's in the hotel safe" to the authorities. So far, no one has ever asked me for my passport, but your mileage may vary, of course.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 1 '19 at 22:30
  • 1
    @Hilmar that is a good answer. Better questions than "is it required" are "what are the consequences for not having it?" and "what is the probability of facing those consequences"? With the answers to those questions, someone can judge their own probability of losing the passport and decide whether to carry it.
    – phoog
    Jan 2 '19 at 0:04
  • I've been asked for my passport when abroad by police. The backpackers who were in my group who didn't have theirs were detained. Admittedly it was not in the five countries mentioned by the OP, but I now make it a point to always have my passport on my person unless I am physically unable to (eg if it has been sent to an embassy for a visa). Jan 2 '19 at 3:39


Italy's Passport Policies. Italy requires you to carry official I.D. ... This means that, in Italy, even though you're unlikely to be checked, you must have your passport with you at all times.

You should carry it everywhere you go:

Can be checked at random traffic stops, at which the drivers of cars, scooters etc are obliged to produce the appropriate documentation, though I've never noticed the passengers being asked to show theirs!


Foreign nationals must be in possession of a valid identity document recognised in terms of Article 13 paragraph 1 during their stay in Switzerland. Conclussion: You have to posses but not to carry a valid form of ID.

You must possess it but not carry it everywhere.

This is much more the case now that there are no border controls between the surrounding EU countries and Switzerland... as a result there are sometimes (note: very infrequent!) border control checks WITHIN Switzerland... and if they ask you for ID you must be able to produce it.


Before you leave home, make two or three copies of the pertinent pages of your passport. ... Contrary to what many believe, you are not required to carry your passport with you—a photocopy will suffice.

You don’t need to carry it and the police will give you two days to supply it:

No need to carry your passport. I have lived in Paris for 40 years and never been asked for identity papers in the street. If you are asked and don't have them, you have 48 hours to supply them at the police office.


The law requiring you to carry a passport on you at all times is only enforced by the police. Coffeeshops are not required by law to ask for a passport, only proper age ID, but some insist on passports. You only have the police to fear for a fine if you don't have your passport on you.

You don’t need to have it anywhere:

As long as you have an absolutely secure place to keep it (hotel safe), you will not need it on you at all times.


Should I carry a passport around everywhere I go in the UK?

The UK is not like Russia or Uzbekistan where police on the street can and do stop you without cause and demand ID (in my case, six times in one day in Tashkent, Uzbekistan). And in the event they DO need your ID, a driver's license generally suffices - or they can go with you to your place of residence to get your passport if you for some reason got into serious strife. I can only think of a handful of cases that I needed my passport. To open a bank account, to prove my visa status for starting a new job, for renting a flat / staying in a hostel, and you definitely need it for hiring a car. I remember this one as I tried to argue it, but had to eventually go back home and get my passport. I wasn't pleased.

You don’t need to carry it but it is recommended.

In general you should carry it if you are not sure just in case.

  • My concern is having my passport stolen such as by a pickpocket, Both my wife and my cousin, on separate occasions when I was with them, were pickpocket in Roma Termini. Also the passport is somewhat bulky to carry. Will a U.S. State Driver's License or Global Entry suffice for an ID in Italy? Will a photo of relevant pages of my passport on a phone suffice in lieu of a photo copy?
    – zaph
    Jan 1 '19 at 21:04
  • Interesting because I lived in the UK for two years and never carried my passport.
    – zaph
    Jan 1 '19 at 21:13
  • @zaph in Italy a passport is one of the only accepted documents
    – Xnero
    Jan 1 '19 at 21:20
  • The law in Switzerland is less restrictive than that in the Netherlands, yet you conclude that one must carry it in Switzerland and not in the Netherlands.
    – phoog
    Jan 2 '19 at 0:07
  • @phoog Made a little mistake, edited
    – Xnero
    Jan 2 '19 at 0:15

I am a black man of African descent who visits Europe extensively (Italy, Germany, Spain, virtually all the Schengen countries + UK).

I am a prime candidate to be stopped by the authorities to check my papers because of the influx of undocumented African migrants. However it has never happened.

I never carry my passport on my person in Europe, it’s always safely secured at my hotel.

I mean what’s the worst that will happen to you in the improbable scenario when you’re asked by the authorities in town?

With every rule there’s theory, and then there’s practice. This is one rule where I believe practice (not carrying your passport around) is the norm.

  • 1
    "Prime candidate" is probably overstating it: you probably look like a tourist, and won't be mistaken for an undocumented migrant unless you're carrying a tray of knock-off sunglasses or something. That said, it would be a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport. Technically in Spain it needs to be stamped by a suitable body (e.g. your consulate) to certify that it's a genuine copy: in practice, when I was asked by the Spanish police to produce ID they accepted my uncertified photocopy. Jan 2 '19 at 0:28
  • "what’s the worst that will happen to you in the improbable scenario when you’re asked by the authorities in town?" You might be taken to the next police station to check your identity and immigration status. Some countries might even impose a fine. On the other hand I know that in my country the laws are much less strict than what most people believe, so you might take random quotes from the internet with a grain of salt. Official travel advisory sites such as travel.state.gov tend to have good summaries of what to expect from the police.
    – Jan
    Jan 2 '19 at 19:14
  • 1
    @Jan I conservatively estimate the value of my passport at about $600+ factoring in the cost of $110, stress and one day off my vacation to visit the US Embassy to get an emergency passport (if there is even an embassy in the city I am visiting), loss of current visas in the passport, and sentimental value. I doubt I will be fined more than about $75 if caught without a passport. For all the above reasons, for me risk of getting apprehended and fined is more tolerable than losing the passport in town. Jan 2 '19 at 19:39
  • @HonoraryWorldCitizen You should also weigh the likelyhood of getting checked by the police vs. the likelyhood of losing your passport. But in general I completely agree. I just wanted to point out what exactly the most likely scenario is if police decide to check your ID. In fact, without an authoritative link I am not even convinced that there are any EU states that legally require you to carry an ID.
    – Jan
    Jan 2 '19 at 21:25
  • @Jan That's correct, I just was feeling too lazy to do that. What I should have done was assign probabilities and calculated expected value. If I put the probability of losing my passport at 10% vs being stopped by police at 20% (very generous), the expected values are -$60 i.e. (0.1*600) for losing passport and $15 i.e (0.2*75) and hence it still makes sense to leave the passport in hotel safe. But I think we're in agreement on the big picture. Jan 2 '19 at 21:42

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