Based on the expats question "If asked for ID in France by the police, as an EU national what is considered valid?", I know what the rules are for carrying ID as a Brit in France.

Secondly, I know that the Schengen Area (including France and Belgium) doesn't permit systematic checks, and that as an EU National travelling in the Schengen area, I do not need to show an national ID card or passport when travelling from one border-free Schengen EU country to another.

However, as the Europe.eu page says, it's highly recommended to take a passport or ID card with you when travelling between Schengen countries as an EU National.

So, as an EU national, if I start out in north-east France, and cross over into Belgium (on a local train, a bus, a bicycle or similar), what (if any) ID do I need to have with me?


2 Answers 2


Short answer: Your passport or EU-based national identity card. However, chances are slim that you will be checked, but it is not uncommon and you are obliged to show an accepted travel document.

Usually those checkups are done in the context of some specific objective (drugs, wanted criminals, or another multinational collaborative effort by the authorities) and often if you are not suspected anything will do (e.g. driver's license, residence permit, bank card, etc.). If however they choose to go formal on you, you need to have a proper travel document stating your resident status and citizenship.

There is a website stating what official identity cards are issued per country.

  • 1
    This feels right in practice but do you have any source regarding precisely what is or isn't required under Belgian law? What could happen if you don't have a passport and the police really wants to annoy you as much as they possibly can?
    – Relaxed
    Apr 28, 2014 at 11:19
  • 1
    I found three sources (in Dutch; google translate is your friendly neighbour): Wikipedia, a site citing NRC, a Dutch newspaper and a Belgian government site. All sources state that everybody over 15 years old should be able to identify themselves when requested. Apr 28, 2014 at 12:27
  • @annoyed would personal experience counts? I will try to get some official references
    – user141
    Apr 28, 2014 at 12:36
  • @BartArondson Thanks but the second site is incorrect in several respects as far as France is concerned so I am not sure if it's really reliable.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 28, 2014 at 12:41
  • 2
    @BartArondson Carrying (or even holding an ID card) is not mandatory in France since 1955 (it's true that it was made mandatory in 1940). Also some small details about detention in terrorism cases: Detention can indeed be extended to 96 hours and more but not without involving the procureur or a judge. This change did take place “after 9/11” so the text is technically correct but in fact it was in 2004, together with similar rules for drug trafficking and other forms of organized criminality so it's kind of misleading to imply that it was a response to the attacks.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 28, 2014 at 13:01

If anything, your ID card. Passport, of course, does the job as well. In most cases, nothing is required, but just in case its always good to have one of the two on you.

  • 3
    This completely fails to address the question, which is much more specific than that. Also, many people (including the OP, incidentally) don't have ID cards.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 29, 2014 at 11:52

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