A hypothetical US citizen flies into Amsterdam from NYC, then takes the train to Paris. She then proceeds to take a tourbus for the day to Brussels. She then flies out of CDG back home to NYC

  1. Is she required to carry her passport at all times on her person in the Schengen boundary?
  2. If not, when is she required to present the passport, other than entry / exit of the Schengen boundary?


I think that it is important distinguish that although a passport is an ID, the requirement for an ID is not necessarily a requirement for a passport. To make matters even more 'interesting', the US issues a national ID known as a "passport card", which is lacking passport capabilities in that it can not be used for air-travel and in my mind is a national ID and not a passport within the context of this discussion.

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    Each Schengen country has its own laws about whether or not people (locals or visitors) are required to carry ID at all times. I've edited the question title to be about the particular three countries you mention, such that there's a chance of getting an answer. – hmakholm left over Monica Jul 3 '19 at 13:44
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    @HenningMakholm it's also possible that a country where it's not necessary to carry the passport at all times might still require it to be carried when entering the country's territory from another Schengen state. – phoog Jul 3 '19 at 14:00
  • "the requirement for an ID is not necessarily a requirement for a passport": the Dutch law, however, limits the acceptable IDs such that a tourist who is not an EU or Schengen-area citizen will only be able to satisfy the requirement by presenting a passport. – phoog Jul 26 '19 at 15:59

Requirements to carry a passport or other recognized id card are based on national laws and are not the same throughout EU or the Schengen area. You are in most EU/Schengen countries not required to carry your passport in general, but also in most cases required to carry a passport when crossing the international borders.

Of the countries you are asking about, you are in the Netherlands required to carry your passport at all times, but not in France and Belgium. When crossing the borders between these three states, there are no permament passport checks, but you are still required to carry your passport and have it with you.

Additional information regarding the update of the question: I don't think anything you mention in your update is relevant for the question. The only identification papers accepted by all EEA and Schengen countries are passports and national ID cards issued by a Schengen or EEA country. Each country may choose to in addition, perhaps for limited purposes, also to accept other documents, like e.g. driver's licenses.

Since you specifically asked about a US visitor, this does not apply to your question. Neither a US driver's license, nor a US passport card will/must be accepted as proof of identity in the three countries you are asking about.

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    For the pedantic: in Dutch law the requirement is actually that you must show your ID (which for a tourist from outside the EU will be the passport), not that you must have it. In practice this means that you must have it, of course, but the significance of the distinction is that failure to have the ID is not by itself an offense, so police can't stop you and demand ID without some other reason. (Source: rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/paspoort-en-identiteitskaart/…) – phoog Jul 3 '19 at 13:58
  • @phoog do you think this could mean showing the ID say on a phone (a picture you took of it just in case) could satisfy the requirement? As that would in theory be "showing" but not "having"? Though of course depends on how showing is defined in this instance... – kiradotee Jul 3 '19 at 14:28
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    @kiradotee I am sure that a picture of the ID would not suffice legally, but a sympathetic police officer might let it go, depending on the circumstances of the ID check. But as always, the guidance I linked to has some problems. The law does not use the verb "tonen" (show) that is used in the guidance; instead it uses "aanbieden," which means "present" or "offer." Or maybe "give." Giving an image of a document to someone is not the same as giving the document. – phoog Jul 3 '19 at 14:36
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    @kiradotee, a picture of an ID is not evidence that the ID exists. Pictures are too easy to manipulate. But it can be a handy reference to all the data on the ID, and simplify attempts to check the identity in the absence of the document. – o.m. Jul 3 '19 at 14:51
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    @kiradotee Id documents do not without reason have a lot of security features. With current technology, it is simply far too easy for anyone to modify a copy or image of a passport without anyone being able to easily tell that the copy has been manipulated. If you for some reason is stopped abroad by the police for an id check, the local police will usually have no means to rapidly check with the issuing authority if the copy is genuine and you can't expect a copy to be sufficient. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 3 '19 at 14:51

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