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I am travelling from Basel to Porto next week and discovered, after I booked the flight, that I have lost my passport. Although now I have applied for a new one, it won't arrive before my date of travel. I have a residence electronic visa for Germany, but it was also attached to the passport. So, although it's still valid, I don't have the original to show at the airport.

I confirmed with my flight (easyJet) and they say they will accept my non-EU driving licence for boarding. Now the question is whether I will absolutely need my passport for this trip?

I know Basel Europort has separate Schengen entry with no immigration control. Does Porto airport also has this? What document can I use in case one is asked for? I do have the police report and a report from the city about the loss, plus I have my non-EU driver's license.

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  • The other question would be whether any hotel will be willing to check you in without a passport to prove your identity?
    – mts
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 14:51

3 Answers 3

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While I personally haven’t been to Porto, I would be very surprised if they didn’t separate Schengen from non-Schengen.

For all flights exiting the Schengen area, a check of identity must be performed. On the other hand, for flights remaining in the Schengen area, such a systematic check may not be performed by police or immigration officials. Thus, there must be a separate area for the extra-Schengen flights otherwise intra- and extra-Schengen passengers would mix with unforseen consequences.

Note that the above paragraph refers to passport checks by immigration officers. Both the carriers and the airport management may conduct security checks to verify your identity — typically, this means showing an identification document at check-in and maybe also at the security screening. They may choose which documents they accept, but given that the airline has accepted your non-EU driving licence (and also given that the airline is probably the lowest link, i.e. the one that will have to pay the others fines), I strongly assume that your non-EU driving licence will get you all the way.


Do note that while there are no checks, you should always have a passport (or other accepted form of ID — I think only relevant for non-Schengen EU citizens, though) on you in case of random police checks etc. You could run into problems by not having a passport with you. (But then again the same thing goes for Switzerland while your passport is lost.)

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  • While your passport is usually not checked during intra Schengen travel, you have to carry your passport with you while abroad (as Schengen country national) or all the time as non Schengen national. By traveling without your passport you do take a risk. If checked on at any time you will have a hard time to convince the autorities that you are legally in Portugal.
    – Willeke
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 14:02
  • @Wil Good point; I added a note, feel free to improve it.
    – Jan
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 14:11
  • Thanks for your comments guys. I am travelling with a German national who can confirm my identity and produce his documents wherever required. I understand there is the risk, but having at least some ID card (my driver's licence) + a European friend should be enough for that identity check. What do you think? Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 9:42
  • @traveller21 Dunno tbh. At the end of the day, each person is responsible for producing their own ID upon request, unless they are a child and accompagnied by their guardian. But given that you have an official ‘this person lost their passport’ note and a driving licence that may very well work, especially if the entire story checks out.
    – Jan
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 10:23
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At BSL plenty of Schengen flights are departing/arriving to/from the non-Schengen sector, so you may well have to clear passport control there (without your passport being stamped).

If that happens, you're unlikely to get through without your passport and residence permit.

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As a general rule, when travelling within the Schengen Area, you will not have to pass through passport checks. Member countries are allowed to set up temporary border checks, but these are usually placed on road and rail border crossings, not in airports.

Virtually all airports in the Schengen Area (especially the ones with scheduled flights!) have separate Schengen / non-Schengen sections. Passengers departing to / arriving from outside the Schengen area are routed through passport checkpoints, passengers flying within the Schengen Area are not. A passenger flying from Vienna > Frankfurt > New York will pass the passport checks in Frankfurt (not in Vienna), before boarding the New York-bound flight. Sending passengers flying within the Schengen Area through passports checks would be a big violation of the Schengen Treaty. It does not routinely happen, possibly only if the Schengen section of an airport is out of service for some unforseen reason.

Now, there's one important point to consider: not all airports are created equal! I flew many times between Vienna and Zurich, and there were absolutely no checks on either side. No one asked for my ID at the security controls. There are automated check-ins and boarding gates on both airports. All I needed was a boarding pass with a QR code (printed or in a mobile app). It would be relatively easy for someone else to fly on my ticket (I'm not encouraging that!).

However, when I flew with Ryanair from the Bratislava airport to Berlin (both within the Schengen Area), it was a completely different story. I was asked for my boarding pass and my ID a total of four times: at the check-in, at the security, at the gate and inside the airplane. In three cases those were airline employees asking the documents, so there is a reasonable chance of them accepting a driving license or whatever. But the security checks in Bratislava are performed by regular Slovak national police officers and they for sure won't accept a driving license (no even if it's issued in the EU) as a proof of identity. That doesn't work in Europe, except for the UK, which is not a Schengen country.

What is the situation like in Basel and Porto? I don't know. More and more airports, especially the bigger ones, have automated check-in and boarding, and outsource the security checks to private contractors. Additionally, in some cases such as Zurich (which could be similar to Basel), the security is carried out by police officers, but they don't ask for IDs of any kind (unless of course you're caught carrying something very dangerous).

In all likelihood, you may successfully fly to Porto and back without your passport. However, I would not advise that. Some countries (Italy, for example) have strict laws on providing accomodation and you might not be admitted to a hotel without an official identity document. Such problems are usually solvable, but it's a pain, not a pleasant holiday. More importantly, travelling in the Schengen Are without an official ID is illegal (you probably already know this). If the police asks for it and you can't produce it, you're very likely to face a fine and/or even detention. Again, not worth it. In an extreme case, since you're not an EU / Schengen country citizen, your Schengen visa might be revoked and/or you can have trouble getting another one after the current one expires.

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  • When temporary checks are re-introduced, it can definitely happen at airports. I've flown from Athens to Paris a couple of times a few years back, with extra documentation checks in ATH before boarding (security company on behalf of the airline) and in Paris (French border force, either just when exiting the aircraft or by routing us through the non-Schengen arrivals).
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 9:48
  • @jcaron I had this too in 2019. The agent at ATH asked me in Swedish what my name is, to check that my ID wasn't fake. Took a few times for my brain to pick up on the fact that she was speaking Swedish, but then I replied "My name's André, and I'm going to Paris". Done! No check at CDG though IIRC
    – Crazydre
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 15:16

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