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My German identity card ("Personalausweiss") expired less than a month ago and I also do not hold a German passport.

Can I travel from Germany to France by car without problems ...

  1. at the (quasi non-existent) border?
  2. when being controlled by the police?
  3. when checking in into a hotel?

The Auswaertige amt claims that:

Frankreich ist Vertragspartei des Europäischen Übereinkommens über die Regelung des Personenverkehrs zwischen den Mitgliedsstaaten des Europarates vom 13.12.1957. Reisedokumente außer dem vorläufigen Personalausweis dürfen seit höchstens einem Jahr abgelaufen sein.

Translation:

France is a party to the European Convention on the Regulation of the Movement of Persons between the Member States of the Council of Europe of 13.12.1957. Travel documents other than the temporary identity card may not have expired for more than one year.

Can anyone confirm that this is true and applicable to France?

2 Answers 2

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One important thing is that in France, unlike Germany, there is no obligation to carry or even hold any specific type of identification document. And as an EU citizen, you also have very extensive rights to visit France. So you are not committing an offense and do not risk a fine.

What could happen:

  1. Entering with a recently expired travel document is common and accepted. You will find mentions of this in airline databases (at least for passports) and I have personally made use of it at the Swiss border, back when it was actively policed. As you know, you're also extremely unlikely to be challenged at the border. Border guards are also aware of your rights as an EU citizen and you're not a priority for them.

  2. In the unlikely event you are asked to provide ID, the police will complain a bit, maybe try to lecture you about the requirement to carry a non-expired ID (they tell that even to French citizens where it is explicitly and unambiguously untrue) but since you have not committed an offense and they know it, they will let you go after a few minutes. Still be apologetic about it, there is no point in confronting a police officer.

    The most the police can conceivably do is keep you for a few hours to ascertain your identity and citizenship but it doesn't make sense for them to do that. If the police is checking ID, it's either because they really want to know your name (and then your ID card is enough for that) or because they want to pressure people they actually know or find low hanging fruits to boost stats on forced removals and the like. If you have a recent ID, they know you're an EU citizen so this won't result in any of that and dealing with you any further would just be a hassle.

  3. The hotel may indeed ask to see your national ID card. Legally I don't think the treaty is terribly relevant here but if needed, you can tell them about what you read on the ministry of foreign affairs website. They just need an excuse to feel good about it so offer it to them. Just don't be obnoxious about it (more like “oh, I thought blablabla, I am very sorry” than ”this is my God-given right, call your manager immediately”). They also most likely won't check or notice the date, they are scanning the document for your name.

The return to Germany is another matter that has been addressed in another answer and what I would be most concerned about. You cannot be refused entry but both the letter of the rules and the general approach to their enforcement do make a fine a real possibility.

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  • It may be true that France has 'no obligation to carry or even hold any specific type of identification document', but France is likly to have implemented DIRECTIVE 2004/38/EC (Freedom of Movement) Article 5 into domestic law, requiring EU Citizens to have a valid identity card or passport when entering France. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 13:31
  • @MarkJohnson Vous devez simplement avoir un passeport ou un titre d'identité en cours de validité, en cas de contrôle d'identité sur le territoire. translating into You need an valid ID, when asked for it in case of ID check link, there appear to be no rules against just showing up without ID Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 14:06
  • @NicolasFormichella The english version of that page reads: 'All you need is a valid passport or identity document, if you have an identity check on the territory.'. An expired identity document would then not fulfill this condition. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 14:17
  • You're right, read too fast Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 14:17
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    @MarkJohnson You have once again completely misunderstood how EU law works. What this paragraph does is forbid states to refuse entry to people who do have such an ID. Member states are free to require a valid national ID card or passport but cannot add arbitrary requirements beyond that. However, it does not create a requirement for states to demand a valid identity card, even less make it an offense not to have one. France is still free to implement the 1957 Council of Europe treaty, which explicitely covers travel with a recently expired document.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 15:00
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Certain agreements do exist (including with France), but there is no guarantee that travel is possible with an expired ID. Therefore the recommendation is to travel only with a valid travel document.

When leaving and entering Germany you are, as a German citizen, required to have a valid travel document (§1 PassG).

This can be a Passport, ID (Personalausweis) or a temporary identity card (vorläufigen Personalausweis).

Since you have no Passport and your ID has expired, you should apply for a temporary identity card.

Togeather with your expired ID, a biometric photo and for a fee (in Berlin) of €10 it should be issued immediately at your local registry office.

Bei einem abgelaufenen Reisepass oder Personalausweis kann die Bundespolizei einen Reiseausweis als Passersatz für deutsche Staatsangehörige ausstellen. Dies gilt nur, wenn die Erteilung eines (vorläufigen) Reisedokumentes bei einer Passbehörde nicht mehr rechtzeitig zu erwarten ist.

In the case of an expired passport or identity card, the Federal Police can issue a travel document as a substitute for German nationals. This only applies if a (provisional) travel document is not expected to be issued in good time by a passport authority.

Personalausweisportal - Startseite - Corona Pandemie - Ausweispflicht, Personalausweis und Online-Ausweis
Ich muss verreisen. Welche Bestimmungen für Reisen ins Ausland muss ich beachten?
Deutschland hat mit einigen Europäischen Staaten vereinbart, dass deutsche Reisepässe oder Personalausweise bis zu einem Jahr nach Ablauf der Gültigkeit grundsätzlich als Identitätsnachweis anerkannt werden sollten. Zu diesen Ländern zählen unter anderem Belgien, Frankreich, Griechenland, Italien, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, die Niederlande, Österreich, Schweiz, Slowenien.
...
Eine Reisegarantie ist mit diesem europäischen Abkommen jedoch nicht verbunden.
Um etwaige Schwierigkeiten bei der Reise mit abgelaufenen Dokumenten zu vermeiden, wird daher empfohlen, nur mit gültigen Dokumenten zu reisen.

I have to travel. What regulations do I have to observe when traveling abroad?
Germany has agreed with some European countries that German passports or identity cards should generally be recognized as proof of identity up to one year after their validity has expired. These countries include Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia.
...
However, a travel guarantee is not associated with this European agreement.
In order to avoid any difficulties when traveling with expired documents, it is therefore recommended to only travel with valid documents.


§1 Passport requirement - (PassG)
(1) Germans within the meaning of Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany leaving or entering the geographical area in which this law applies are required to carry a valid passport to identify themselves. Presenting a passport of the Federal Republic of Germany within the meaning of (2) shall fulfil this requirement.

§3 - Temporary identity cards - Act on Identity Cards and Electronic Identification (Personalausweisgesetz, PAuswG)
(1) A temporary identity card shall be issued to any applicant who provides a credible reason for immediately requiring an identity card.

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    While all this is true, and while the asker of the question should take it into account, it doesn't address the law in France, which I suppose is the true subject of the question. After all, aside from the PassG obligation on departure and arrival in German territory, there's also the PAuswG obligation, so much of the asker's legal exposure exists regardless of whether the trip is to France or to the local supermarket.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 10:13
  • What’s the penalty for violating the German law?
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 10:44
  • @JonathanReez § 25 - Administrative offences (PassG): definded as administrative offence in §25(3)(1) and can be fined up to €5000 (§25(4)). The attempt may also be punishable (§25(5)). Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 10:57
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    Note that some of your quotes do not really make sense, if an expired national card ID is in fact accepted as a proof of identity then all the rights that come with EU citizenship must legally apply. The only coherent reason to refuse entry is to deem the expired ID as insufficient proof of your identity and citizenship. Once that's legally established, you have to fall back to the usual public safety, etc. exceptions and should not arbitrarily refuse entry.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 12:23
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    @MarkJohnson You have once again completely misunderstood the meaning and logic of EU law. If there was such an obligation, then the 1957 agreement would be completely obsolete and it would be absurd to write “Eine Reisegarantie ist mit diesem europäischen Abkommen jedoch nicht verbunden.” You still cannot have it both ways.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 14:56

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