My partner just left The Netherlands to drive to Germany. He called me to say he is already 3 hours in the trip, crossed the border and reminded himself that he forgot his passport. He asked me to send him pictures of it, just in case.

When I grabbed the passport to do so, I noticed he didn't only forget it, it also expired a month ago. He has with him a valid drivers license, but no other means of identification. Is this legal and/or safe?

Is there anything I can do for him now or is there anything he should keep in mind? He will be back tomorrow night, but it still worries me.

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    You have added the Dutch citizen tag, does that mean that he is a Dutch citizen? If so then I would be totally relaxed. Both countries are in the Schengen area. Does he have any other ID e.g. his identity card or a driving licence?
    – badjohn
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:13
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    @badjohn As OP approved my answer, they're clearly Dutch. Also OP's Partner has a driving licence
    – Crazydre
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:24
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    @Willeke: No, you aren't required to have an ID on you all the time. However, if authorites ask you to identify yourself, and you don't have an ID on you, they may detain you for identification purposes. This isn't something you want to happen, but you're not commiting an offense, and the only thing you lose is some time, there's no other penalty. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:20
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    @Ghanima Only at the border. Once they are in Germany, the rule simply mirrors that which applies to German citizens (“für die Dauer des Aufenthalts im Bundesgebiet den erforderlichen Pass oder Passersatz zu besitzen”, i.e. notmit sich zu führen”), as it should be under EU law. § 10 does not define what “rechtzeitig” means in this context but IIRC it means within 24 hours.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 5:26
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    I've visited Germany dozens of times without passport. In fact I may travel all the Schengen with my ID card and in some countries a driver's licence is enough in most cases (I'm Spanish/British national). Travel documents for EU nationals
    – roetnig
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 9:12

4 Answers 4


Relax, there are no border checks between the Netherlands and Germany (which he should know as he already crossed), and if stopped for a police check, the copy of the expired passport should definitely satisfy them that he is Dutch, as it's only expired by one month.

Furthermore, to get all formal about it, Germany accepts Dutch passports expired by less than 5 years, so although he doesn't have it with him, like I said, you are completely overthinking this.

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    Random customs checks are actually quite common when entering Germany from the Netherlands to unveil drug smuggling. When crossing the border, you are according to German law and independent of your citizenship, obligated to carry recognized travel documents (passport or a national id card issued by an EEA state). Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:20
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    @JaneDoe1337 it does not. It does not list the bearer's citizenship, and having Dutch citizenship is not a requirement to get a Dutch driver's license.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:45
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    Having a Dutch name and a Dutch accent with a Dutch car and Dutch driver's license should be good enough of an argument, unless the cops find another reason for a deeper check (maybe the car smells too much like weed or he's speeding or such)
    – johannes
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 16:36
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    @JaneDoe1337 that said, the license strongly implies that he is legally resident in the Netherlands, or at least that he was at one point, and it will certainly help in the unlikely event that he gets in trouble with the police to establish his credibility, making it more likely that the police will treat him relatively less harshly.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 17:47
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    @JaneDoe1337, when it comes to questions of immigration, the German authorities are supposed to give EU citizens the benefit of the doubt. Your partner would be roughly in the same situation as a German citizen without ID, except that they can't query Dutch records quite as easily.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:22

For EU citizens, there is a small risk of minor inconveniences.

  • EU citizens are required to be able to present a passport or acceptable substitute at the German border upon request by the authorities, as set down in §8 (1) 1. FreizügG/EU.
  • The probability of having to show papers at an internal Schengen border is very low. It might go up if one matches the "typical profile" of a drug buyer or seller. Anyway, he OP's partner crossed the border. (Other readers of this answer might be less lucky.)
  • EU citizens are required to own a passport or acceptable substitute while in Germany and to present it upon request by the authorities. They are not required to carry it with them. If he gets into a traffic accident or the like, the absence of papers will complicate things, just as it does for a German citizen who does not carry an identity card with him/her.

Intentional or negligent failure to own papers may be punished with a fine, but I would not worry about that very much.

  • For a traffic incident, will the police normally ask for the ID or passport in addition to the driver's license?
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 17:48
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    @phoog, if the police really want to "throw the book" at him, there is §8 FreizügG/EU with the requirement to own papers and §10 with a fine for deliberately or negligently failing to do so. I haven't heard about that happening to Dutch citizens, but I'm no expert in that area.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:26
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    My understanding is that "own" doesn't mean "carry on one's person"; see for example travel.stackexchange.com/q/95106/19400.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 18:31
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    But there is no requirement to present them at the (Schengen internal) border between the Netherlands and Germany.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 21:05
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    @CarstenS Your pink driver's license is valid until at least 2021.n-tv.de/ratgeber/…
    – toni
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 10:37

In Schengen, ID cards appear to be viable substitutes for passports as travel documents, so the Dutch Identiteitskaart should suffice, if he happens to have it on him.

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    It does suffice within virtually all of Europe (and some places outside), not just Schengen. However OP's Partner doesn't have it
    – Crazydre
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:23
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    A lot of people over the age of 24 do not have a identiteitskaart as it was not mandatory for them to get one. My partner does not have one either, he only has his passport and drivers license.
    – Summer
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 15:26
  • In the USA your State-issued driver's license is your identity card nationwide. Identity cards, per se, are unavailable; except the Dept. of Motor Vehicles (or whoever issues drivers' licenses) will issue them to non-drivers only. They say "Identification card" but otherwise look, walk and quack like a driver's license. So if I saw a movie where a Slovenian cop demanded ID and got only a Dutch driver's license, that would seem totally normal to me. Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 16:58
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    @Harper There's the US passport card, but few People other than border area commuters have them. Otherwise, that's the equivalent of our national ID Cards (in fact when I use my European ID at bars in the US and they ask what it is, I always call it a passport card)
    – Crazydre
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 17:00
  • @Crazydre I thought many states had ID cards "for people who don't drive". At least Ontario, Canada does ("Ontario photo card").
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 17:18

I thought that I did the same, travelling from Greece to Denmark (only having a European driver's licence and not my ID). According to this link, it's not a travel document, so you can't use it. At the same time, you shouldn't be asked for any travel documents, but you never know.

In my case, I did have my ID with me, but the airline told me that they wouldn't accept me on the flight if I had forgotten it (nothing to do with border checks).

As previously said, you do not actually need a passport, although it's good to have one, and especially for Germany-Netherlands it's unlikely that you will encounter trouble.

It's just the responsible thing to have travel documents with you.

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