When travelling I plan / expect to present my passport to demonstrate that I have the proper standing (paperwork) to pass through customs and immigration at border control points. While abroad, I carry my US Passport card, which is issued by the US department of state:

The passport book and passport card are both U.S. passports. If issued for the full validity, they are both proof of your U.S. citizenship and identity.

Are there any nations that will not recognize the passport card as a form of Identification? I was stopped in Paris by a policeman and was asked for a passport and I left it in the hotel safe: I offered to show it to him as the hotel was 100 meters down the street, but he was not interested. It would be nice if I could present the passport card to confirm my standing to be in the country (Americans do not need Visas in the EU), however, it is the passport book that confirms standing.

As I understand it, an American driver's license is not acceptable in Europe for the purpose of identification.

  • 2
    Did you mean customs (who want to see what you bring into the country) or Immigration (who want to see who you are)?
    – Willeke
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 14:53
  • Good Question: both. While in Amsterdam I was able to use the passport card to rent a car.
    – gatorback
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 14:59
  • The passport card officially does not meet the requirements of the Dutch identification law, but as a practical matter people may recognize that it is a secure government-issued identification document that show you to be a US citizen, so it is certainly far better than nothing.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 16:46
  • @phoog Is there a good reference to Dutch ID requirements?
    – gatorback
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 17:18
  • I have used the US passport card in Europe as identification in currency exchange offices, while the passport booklet was locked away in the hotel safe.
    – user79729
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 19:01

2 Answers 2


The purpose of American passport card confines entry into the United States by land or sea, confirmation of citizenship and identification. You can not expect all countries to accept it: especially those outside of Canada and Mexico and possibly some of the smaller countries near the USA for surface travel.

Even within the USA passport books and passport cards are reported as not accepted by some people, like bars and liquor shops.

In the rest of the world your experience will also differ, more by what the people checking are told to accept and reject than by authorities setting rules about accepting or rejecting USA passport cards.
I am pretty sure you will find tobacco shops, liquor shops and bars over the world which will accept your card, but the ones next to them may reject them, as not being on the official list.

I have successfully checked into hotels in Canada using my EU ID card, (basically the European equivalent of your US passport card,) and never got it rejected. But I always had my passport on hand as I keep it beneath my outer layer of clothes or safely in a bag, and at the ready, so I can have it out in a short time.

I do not expect your passport card to be accepted by border officials as it has no space for stamps. And as an official identification paper it only works as far as the check does not involve checking whether you are legal to be in the country at the time. (As that relies on stamps or visa.)

  • Yes, I do not expect border officials to accept the card: a passport book is necessary. I agree with your approach that for critical services (immigration, hotels), that having the passport (as a backup to the card) on your person is the prudent process. I suppose that if I travel from Amsterdam to Brussels for a day, that it would be wise to carry the passport despite the absence of border control between the NL and BE: a good question for another thread.
    – gatorback
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 15:20
  • The first paragraph overstates the situation a bit. A passport card is officially accepted as identification for entering federal facilities and passing TSA checkpoints, for example, even if the original intention of the passport card may not have included such purposes.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 16:48
  • @Willeke The passport card's purpose is expedite / simplify surface travel by removing the need for a passport in high traffic areas (cruise chips, land borders Mexico + Canada). I have updated the first paragraph to reflect this.
    – gatorback
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 17:07
  • @gatorback the passport card's purpose is to offer a less costly alternative to people who had been accustomed to traveling to and from the US without a passport, after the US tightened passport requirements for entering US citizens in the wake of September 11th, 2001. Using one isn't particularly faster than using a passport.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 19:35
  • @gatorback Even when Border Contols existed, Foreigners were required to prove their legal status upon demand by a authorized person. This situation has not changed at all. Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 22:38

Even though you can enter many countries without a visa, you still have restrictions on how long you can stay. The current way of checking this is through the use of stamps in your passport.

So if police want to check your status, a passport card will not be enough, as it doesn’t have the entry stamp. For this reason, a passport card is usually not recognised by any foreign country outside of North America.

However, on a case by case basis, it really depends on the situation and why they are requesting ID. I would expect police to accept your passport card in some situations, but not others.

Note that in many countries, sadly, what you look like can have a strong bearing on whether you will be checked or not, as well as whether they will be inclined to accept alternative forms of ID. Expect more difficulty if you “look” like you are from Africa or Asia than if you look like the stereotypical American tourist with European origins.

  • I think the young Parisian policemen that stopped me learned that ethnic appearance \ couture is a poor indicator of standing. He literally thought through his assessment to leave me by repeating everything I said to him. If policing is randomly stopping (visually obvious) well-heeled tourists, then I feel sorry for that city. I do not fit the ethic group appearance that is stereotyped as criminal or refugee.
    – gatorback
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 14:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .