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I'm on a train to Vienna from Milan and I totally forgot my ID and passport home. I only have the driving license with me which is not a valid travel document in the Schengen area.

I'm pretty sure they are going to check the tickets and documents pretty soon, what are my chances to get through the check and reach Vienna?

Also, if I make it to Vienna, I have a flight back to Italy in a few days and my problem is gonna be even bigger, I guess. What can I do, considering no one has the keys of my apartment and so no one can mail me my passport? I'm flying Germanwings.

UPDATE: I tried to contact the consulate in order to ask for a new ID but they are closed...

UPDATE 2: I was wondering: if I go to the police telling them I lost my ID, would I get some sort of temporary replacement from them which would be a valid travel document for germanwings? [I tried this option but police told me they can't do anything since my ID wasn't stolen but I "lost it"]

  • My answer in another question can be helpful. – Nean Der Thal Dec 26 '14 at 7:14
  • I travelled between Brussels and Budapest by plane just a few days ago: never did I have to show any form of identification. Since all countries involved are in the Schengen area, you should be fine. – Jeroen Vannevel Dec 26 '14 at 15:40
  • Assuming you reach Vienna: Does anybody have access to your home and can mail you the passport using an express service? If you don't have roommates or a designated flower waterer, maybe your landlord can help you out this one time. – rumtscho Dec 26 '14 at 16:46
  • @JeroenVannevel: BS. Passport checks are still very much the norm, even within the Schengen area. – Quora Feans Dec 26 '14 at 19:24
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In practice, here is what you can do:

  • Contact a consulate from your own country to get some travel document (probably an emergency passport). Being in a foreign country without one is a perfectly valid reason for that (even within Schengen). It will probably cost you some money and a bit of effort but it has worked for me before.
  • Try your luck with the airline. Some of them like Ryanair are notorious for being picky about that but on some intra-Schengen flights you don't have to show any ID. Even when an ID is in principle required and driver's licenses are explicitly excluded, it's possible to get lucky. This also worked for me before (see below).
  • Cancel your flight and travel back by train. There could still be a border check but it's unlikely. Worse case scenario: You do get checked and the police/customs keep you for some time. You would still be better off than at the airport because you would already be in your country of residence and they should have means to verify your story. I have done that too, did see some border police officers but I was lucky enough not to be asked anything so I don't know exactly what they would have done.

On one occasion, I have been allowed to fly back home without passport/national ID but only a driver's license and a few other things like an health insurance card. On their own, these documents prove nothing but they were helpful to convince the gate personnel that I was a resident of the destination country. They were very understanding and let me board the flight, stressing that they only did it because it was a Schengen flight.

In summary: I would definitely contact the nearest consulate as soon as possible and consider changing plans but if that's not possible, do try to board your return flight. Be upfront and honest, you could get lucky.

17

Milan and Vienna are both inside the Schengen area, so there will be no routine travel document checks when the train crosses the Itailan-Austrian border.

(I'm assuming the passport/ID is all you have forgotten; if you have also forgotten your train ticket, you'll be in trouble, of course).

In principle you're supposed to have documentation with you when you travel in another Schengen country. In practice it is unlikely anyone will demand to see it.

Getting on the flight back to Italy might be a bigger problem -- namely as far as convincing the airline that you're the person whose name your ticket is for. There's a fair chance that your driving license will be accepted for that, but in the worst case it is possible that you'll be denied boarding and have to take a train back instead.

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    The driving licence is indeed an official form of ID. However it is often deemed not valid by airlines when checking for passenger details upon check-in or prior to boarding for international flights. My personal experience testifies this, as I have already been denied boarding for this same reason. – JoErNanO Dec 25 '14 at 21:33
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    Can he visit his embassy in Vienna and get them to give him some sort of document to help placate the airline? – Dronz Dec 25 '14 at 23:00
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    @Dronz: Probably not, since he's already inside the controlled travel area (i.e. Schengen) where he knows he can find his actual passport. So he doesn't need it as travel documentation, and needing a passport to complete a commercial transaction not related to crossing a border is probably not a reason to fast-track issuance of a new one. On the other hand, he might try -- they can't do anything worse than laugh at him and send him away empty-handed. – Henning Makholm Dec 25 '14 at 23:09
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    JoErNanO's comment is slightly misleading. Driving licenses simply aren't valid ID in most European countries. They just prove that you are allowed to drive and due to the photo can be used for that purpose without an additional passport or identity card. Routine passport controls in the Schengen area are not supposed to happen, but on some connections they happen anyway. Milan-Vienna might well be one of them. – Hans Adler Dec 26 '14 at 14:33
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    @HansAdler: I don't think there's any general concept of "valid ID" applicable across the board. I've checked the rules for the next domestic flight I'll be on, and it just says that passengers need "photo ID" to check in for intra-Schengen flights, which certainly includes driving licenses. If they wanted not to accept non-passport IDs, they could easily have written "passport" instead, which they actually do in the paragraph about out-of-Schengen flights. – Henning Makholm Dec 26 '14 at 14:52
5

Thanks for all the good answers, it was hard to accept just one.

I'd like to report my experience, it could hopefully help someone else in the future.

Train Part

Despite the announcement of incoming passport and ticket checks, only the ticket has been checked so I managed to reach Vienna without problems.

Airport Part

At this point I was quite scared I couldn't do anything to avoid passport/ID check at the airport so I tried to contact the Italian embassy in Vienna, which was closed. I went to the central police station and they told me they couldn't do anything because my ID hasn't been stolen but I simply "lost it" (that's what I told them in order to get some kind of temporary ID or something). I then tried to call germanwings in order to see if there was something I could do but they simply told me I would not be able to fly.

So, as Relaxed suggested, I tried my luck. I checked-in online and I went through the security check and the gates of two airports (Vienna and Bonn) without anyone asking me for documents.

2

Have the details with you. The police will be happy if you can tell them your name, address, ID number and some other personal information that helps them identify you. Not having an ID is only an issue when you are crossing the border. If they ask you in Vienna, when hanging around, it should not be an issue. If you are obviously European, then the Austrian police will also get less interested in you. Always be prepared to colaborate to let them check your identity. Do not offer lots of explanations or get cocky. Cooperate. Don't know how they will treat you if you are Somali tough.

  • I don't see the need for that last Don't know how they will treat you if you are Somali tough. comment. – JoErNanO Dec 27 '14 at 3:07
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    It's a fair comment. Austrian Police are not sympathetic at the best of times with non residents especially those of a different ethnic origin, even as a British Guy I found them particularly tough to deal with and I speak some German. Of course not all Austrians are this way, but it is relevant all the same as a generic comment on Police attitudes. – Hi Lo Dec 27 '14 at 16:11
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Pre-Schengen, I have twice or so traveled with Germans who forgot their passports. Even without a driver's license, but traveling in the same car/bus as family or classmates, they were able to obtain a replacement document on the border -- without a photo, valid for a few days. On a train this is probably not possible, but if you go to the Italian embassy saying you only realised your problem after reaching Austria, they may be able to help you in a similar way.

That said, depending on various factors it's quite possible that you will encounter a routine passport control on your train even though that's not supposed to happen according to official Schengen rules. In that case your driver's license may save you, but really all bets are off except it's a sure bet that your chances will depend on details of your appearance including your complexion, hairstyle, clothing, accent etc. So it's not clear that you will make it to Vienna. You might actually be stopped after the border. There is a chance that showing your flight ticket home might help.

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    Legally, it's difficult to see how you could be “stopped” at some random station and put on train back to Italy (which is what did happen before Schengen). The only real option for border guards is detaining the OP and initiating deportation proceedings. This is certainly possible for third-country nationals thought to be illegally in the Schengen area but does not really make sense in this case. – Relaxed Dec 26 '14 at 17:36

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