I struggled to find this info online. How often is my ID requested and checked when crossing the border between Italy and Switzerland (and back) by train (suppose that I have nothing to declare to customs) and which information, if any, from my ID do the border police of either country record when they check it? I'm an Italian citizen >18 years old and I will only carry my biometric passport and driving licence.

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    Officially, this should be very rare, as both countries are part of the Schengen Area, and there should be no systematic checks. There are anecdotal reports that the Swiss make more checks than they should, though. They shouldn’t need to record anything. But I have the feeling there is another reason for your question, can you clarify what it is? As an Italian citizen you shouldn’t have to worry about it in any case.
    – jcaron
    Aug 28, 2019 at 15:56
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    @jcaron There are currently frequent or even permanent id checks on many intra-schengen borders due to the 'temporary refugee crisis'. Last year, I have been checked every time going from Hungary to Austria and I have the impression that the checks there are permanent. From Austria to Bavaria, there are also permanent checks on all motorways and frequent checks on all other border crossings. Aug 28, 2019 at 16:26

4 Answers 4


I've done this twice. Both times the train stopped in Domodossola and we were told to have our IDs ready for inspection as some guards came through the train.

On both occasions they never asked to speak to me; I'm a pale white guy who was travelling with a minimum of luggage so didn't trigger any of their instincts.

A friend of East Asian descent tells me that he was questioned on such a crossing however, and on one of the occasions when I was on the train I saw them questioning an Indian guy. So expect their random checks to be somewhat less than random.

Regardless you can expect that you may potentially be asked for ID at any time when making the crossing. If you have your passport or national ID that will be completely fine.

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    "expect their random checks to be somewhat less than random": that was also my observation on several trips over the last 20 years.
    – phoog
    Nov 23, 2019 at 15:30

which information, if any, from my ID do the border police of either country record when they check it?

According to Schengen rules, travels are not recorded, especially those of EU/EEA/CH nationals. The police will only check for the validity of the document, not take note of it.

I will only carry my biometric passport and driving licence.

The European driver's license is not a valid international travel document, as it doesn't show nationality and is issued regardless of the citizenship. They will ask for passport.

But as reported by others, most of the ID checks on the Swiss border are not that random, so especially if your name sounds very Italian-ish, you will be let go on a driver's license


According to standard rules the citizens of EU it is highly recommended to carry identity card (carta identitá) or passport as the proof of your identity. Please note the ID should not cover the information that valid only inside Italy (it is usually ID card for non-citizens of Italy but residents). Probably somebody can try to travel without it but I suppose he can get a lot of problems. Anyway you can get all the information here
According to basic practice any country can perform the control at the border between EU countries but without additional stamps to your passport etc.
Based to my practice: Italy <> Switzerland - basic control at the border when guards are verifiying not everybody but some individuals with random checks. They can ask you to show the documents to verify that you have all necessary permits to come to Swtizerland and they can ask you to open the luggage to verify that you have nothing forbidden with you.
It could be control or it could be not (for example Sunday evening) so nobody can say. And it is not rare. Mainly 90% that if you will travel by train from Italy you will meet the border Swiss guards team and I suppose it is just 5% that you will meet somebody in train if you will continue from Switzerland to Germany.
But for sure it is border crossing and you should obey all the rules according to the documents, forbidden things and cash limits.
Before the transparency of banking system in Switzwerland there were a lot of Italian financial police controls at the border between Italy and Switzerland. Now probably it is over.

  • The highly recommended portion of this answer is misleading: it is a requirement. The standard rules are: for EU Citizens and their family members Freedom of Movement, Article 5 (Right of entry) and for other 3rd country citizens: Schengen Code, Article 3 (Scope) and Article 6 (Entry conditions for third-country nationals). Any lack of border controls, when crossing the internal borders, does not free you from this requirement. Sep 28, 2020 at 1:28
  • A residence permit/card is not an ID that alone allows the crossing of any internal border. It is proof of residence status, that togeather with a passport allows any crossing. Exceptions can be made when a residence card has been forgotten. A forgotten passport will often lead to a denial of entry. For EU Citizens a national ID or Passport is required. Some form of health insurance is mostly required (EHIC card or travel insurance). Sep 28, 2020 at 1:39
  • Germany's implementation of the Freedom of Movement directive (which itsself does not cover the topic of health insurance for short term visits) does require adequate health insurance coverage. FreizügG/EU § 4 Non-gainfully employed persons entitled to freedom of movement Sep 28, 2020 at 3:25
  • 90%? On my admittedly small sample size of four train trips from Italy into Switzerland in the past year, I saw zero border guards.
    – gerrit
    Sep 28, 2020 at 12:06

As Italian your passport or, if you have it, your ID card will be enough to pass the border. Your driving license is needed for driving a car but as you travel by train that should not be asked for.

As far as I know there is no requirement for travel insurance going to Switzerland but at least one Schengen country asks for it.

No other requirements for passing the internal borders.

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    "at least one Schengen country asks for [travel insurance]"...from EU citizens? That would seem to be contrary to the free movement directive.
    – phoog
    Aug 28, 2019 at 16:41
  • I have never been asked for proof but have heard Slovakia asks it from all tourists.
    – Willeke
    Aug 28, 2019 at 17:08
  • I flew through Bratislava a couple of times 15 or 16 years ago, so in the very early days of the current free movement directive or maybe even before it took effect, and nobody asked me for travel insurance. I was traveling between Amsterdam and Split, so half the flights were internal to the Schengen area and half were external. Of course there has been plenty of time for things to change since then, so maybe they have.
    – phoog
    Sep 27, 2020 at 23:51
  • There is no requirement for medical insurance, as your European Health Card will cover any medical expensed. Having said that, make sure you have yours with you and it is up to date. Sep 28, 2020 at 13:13
  • Not all EU countries have universal health insurance and in some not all people are having health insurance and so no European Health Card. And insurance does more than just health, it often also covers repatriation, which is not covered by the card.
    – Willeke
    Sep 30, 2020 at 19:18

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