I'm planning to travel to Namur, Belgium tomorrow, and that evening, I'll be going to Paris, France, from which I'll return the day after to the Netherlands.

Due to the recent tensions in France, security and checks have been increased, and the actual chance that I'll have to provide my identification papers is present. Therefore, I am trying to find out whether my Dutch-issued drivers license (valid until 2020+) will be sufficient when either the Belgian or French police asks me for my identification. It'll be a hassle for me to also bring my (Dutch) passport*, so I'd rather avoid that. I wouldn't have any problem with providing them with a photocopy of my valid passport.

I'm not planning to do any activities which require my identification per se, only visiting.

Is providing my Dutch drivers license a valid form of identification at the French/Belgian police / border control?

* I will be attending an indoor event where I will have to either leave my belongings at a counter, or bring it with me on the dancefloor. I dislike both options, and rather not bring my actual passport

How this ended: I brought my passport and carried it with me at all time, I haven't been in the position where any form of identification was required.

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    You look like a European, so it would probably be okay.
    – JonathanReez
    Nov 3, 2016 at 11:24
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    Thank you for the quick reply, my main concern is border troubles. I once had a 4 hour delay at the Belgian-French border because some guy couldn't identify himself (bus-trip). I'm not really tempted to have that problem again.
    – roberrrt-s
    Nov 3, 2016 at 11:26
  • Side note: I find it somewhat funny that nobody assumes I'll have any problem in Belgium, :)!
    – roberrrt-s
    Nov 3, 2016 at 18:09
  • For international travel no. For everyday identification, purchasing alcohol/cigarettes, entering strip clubs, and other activities requiring one's identity to be verified then yes.
    – JoErNanO
    Nov 18, 2016 at 20:22

2 Answers 2


Technically not, because driving licences do not state nationality, which is turn is what dictates your right to be in the Schengen Area.

In practice, you would usually be OK unless they decide to go formal and serious on you (such as if you're suspected of a crime).

Do you not have an identiteitskaart? That one is a perfectly valid travel document within Europe.

If not, I would recommend you to bring that passport copy just in case.

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    An 'identiteitskaart' costs around 80,- here these days, and I didn't feel the need to buy it because I have a passport as well. Thank you for this, i'll probably bring a copy of my passport
    – roberrrt-s
    Nov 3, 2016 at 11:47
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    @Roberrrt Driving licence+passport copy definitely ought to be OK. What they actually need is to establish is that you're an EEA national, as they have an absolute right to be in the Schengen Area
    – Crazydre
    Nov 3, 2016 at 11:48
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    I will probably go with this, thank you for your advice and time!
    – roberrrt-s
    Nov 3, 2016 at 12:50
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    @Roberrrt you should report that. The maximum they are allowed to ask is €50,40.
    – Belle
    Nov 3, 2016 at 13:42
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    @Willeke, Crazydre if BE has a requirement similar to NL, then they could fine someone for not having a valid ID. A driving license plus a photocopy of the passport would leave Roberrrt liable for that fine and any other action that might come with it. The FOM directive allows countries to require "union citizens" to "hold a valid identity card or passport" for stays of up to three months. Crazydre is correct, though, that any evidence of EEA nationality would probably be sufficient to avoid deportation, but as I see it, the directive allows them to deport on those grounds if they want.
    – phoog
    Nov 3, 2016 at 16:52

In France, there is no notion of a legally valid form of identification that should be presented to the police when asked and certainly no obligation to carry any given document. French citizens are perfectly entitled to live their whole lives without even holding (let alone carrying) a passport or ID card (it would not be very practical but it's not illegal per se). Foreign residents (and especially third-country nationals) are strongly encouraged to carry their residence permit and can face a lot of hassle (up to 16 hours of detention) if they don't have it with them during a police check but even in this case, it's not an offense not to carry it.

What matters is your status and if you can't document it, the police can keep you for some time to establish it. Obivously, this should almost never happen if you have a national ID card or EU passport on you but you won't find any law listing what is or is not a valid means of identification and official advice carefully dances around the issue. That's completely different from the situation in the Netherlands where not carrying the relevant document is an offense in itself, punishable by a fine.

As an EU citizen, you have a very strong right to be in France and you only need to convince the police that detaining you would be a waste of time because you're not on any list of wanted persons (which would ostensibly be the main justification for increased checks after recent events) and cannot be removed. That's why a Dutch driving license and a passport copy should be enough to satisfy any reasonable police officer during a random police check.

At the border, the situation is a bit more ambiguous. The police might be tempted to simply ask you to turn back, which is legally questionable but still happens and would obviously be a major inconvenience. For all the reasons I gave above, I don't think this would be particularly likely but I can't categorically rule it out either.

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    The logic of the applicable law (articles 78-1 to 78-6 of the Code de procédure pénale) is that the check might happen anywhere and if you are found to be illegally present in the country, the only available route is detention and ultimately removal.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 3, 2016 at 17:04
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    I'm not in the position to reply extensively, but at first: Thank you very much for your answer. I don't think arguing with the French (border) police will do me any good, even if I am in my rights.
    – roberrrt-s
    Nov 3, 2016 at 17:07
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    @NajibIdrissi “peut” means may, not should and that's only one of three bullet points. What it does not state is “La personne contrôlée doit présenter un titre d'identité”. Tellingly, the last bullet point is “witness testimony” which sounds totally awkward in this place but must be included precisely because ID documents are not mandatory. But the page tries to play that down and strongly suggests that having ID documents is necessary. Without actually stating it. How is that not dancing around the issue?
    – Relaxed
    Nov 8, 2016 at 19:07
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    @NajibIdrissi Most importantly, what the law actually says is “par tout moyen”. It makes no mention whatsoever of any ID documents so that the list you quoted is just something someone thought of including as potential ID documents and not grounded in the letter of the law or any legal notion of a valid form of identification or anything like that. The fact that you could read this text and get the exact opposite idea while someone reading it carefully can see that it actually states something completely different and carefully avoids contradicting the law really makes my point.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 8, 2016 at 19:17
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    @NajibIdrissi That's because you missed mine, I got what you meant but how is that even relevant? It certainly does not contradict my answer and is just as baseless as claiming that only national ID card or passport would be acceptable. The law does not state that either, it's just beside the point. The fact that you seem to think it's worth discussing at all is another prime example of the confusion induced by the official advice “dancing around” the lack of any specific documentary requirement.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 9, 2016 at 19:48

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