The USA for example has a law which requires an alien to carry immigration documents / ID on their person at all times. When flouted it is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment.

Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

In the UK apparently this requirement does not exist however does my credit/debit card with my name suffice as ID (not for driving, just for example if a ticket officer wants to check my ID on the metro) in cases where an ID may be required in the UK?

  • 2
    There is no general requirement to carry ID or to identify yourself to anyone in the UK. Except: if you are arrested by the police, or you are stopped by police while driving, you may be asked to give your name. If you are caught evading a train fare you may be required to state your name and address. But there is no penalty for not having identification documents on you. If you are flying domestically within the UK there are terrorism laws where a policeman can require your ID. But in practice this almost never happens.
    – Calchas
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:42
  • 5
    Possible duplicate of Should I carry a passport around everywhere I go in the UK?
    – Calchas
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:51
  • @Calchas Not a duplicate. I specifically wanted to know if a non-government issued ID like a credit card would suffice. Apr 12, 2017 at 13:52
  • 1
    @SheikPaul Fair enough. A credit card will rarely be accepted as ID. (British Airways accepts it as ID for a domestic flight.) In situations where you need a photo ID, bring your passport. But unless you are opening a bank account or buying a beer, you probably don't need photo ID.
    – Calchas
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:54
  • The plain text of the statute applies only to immigration documents, not ID generally. ID is implicated only inasmuch as the registration receipts may be inserted into a passport (entry stamp) or may take the form of a photo ID card (green card). By implication, though, the statute doesn't apply to aliens who have not been fingerprinted, and it's not at all clear to me that the fingerprinting currently done at the border counts, since it seems to be done under different statutory authority. @Calchas, I'm sorry I missed your earlier comment.
    – phoog
    Apr 12, 2017 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


There is no requirement to carry ID in the UK. Nobody, not even the police, can require you to have ID (though they can require you to give your name, and can ask for ID if you have it). If you are driving you can be asked to produce a license, but have several days to do it.

People can require to see ID to do business if it is reasonable. If you buy a student ticket they can require proof that you are a student. An airline will require ID for security reasons. A bank will require ID before they let you cash a cheque. But nobody is going to stop you on the Underground and ask to see ID without a reason.

Whether a credit card counts as ID is going to depend on what you are doing. Airlines generally want photoID, banks may accept a credit card (especially if they can verify it isn't stolen). If you want to do something that might require ID, ask what is acceptable.


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