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Do you need to carry a passport in France?

Do you need to carry a passport in France?

Jul 10th, 2004, 05:31 PM
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Do you need to carry a passport in France?

In the past I was always told I must have a US passport on me while traveling in France. Can I leave it at a safe spot in my apartment and carry a photocopy? Or maybe a photocopy is not even necessary? It has been hard to get a straight answer on this question. thanks.
annetti is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 05:38 PM
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I can't imagine you would be asked to show your passport unless you are cashing traveller's cheques or using one of the Eurail passes which is issued only to non-Europeans (and even then I've only been asked to show the passport once in well over 60 journeys)... I always leave mine in the room or hotel safe unless I am crossing into a country outside the EC.
scotcan is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 05:39 PM
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You must show your actual passport at the airport and not a copy. What I usually is carry photo copy of my passport with me during the say and night and leave the real one in the room safe until I am ready to go home.
SUNSHINE1223 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 05:39 PM
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I am an Australian but wouldn't think it makes any difference and I have never found it necessary to carry my passport on me whilst in France. If I was happy with the security of the hotel I was staying in I would just simply leave it locked inside my suitcase. I have visited France several times and have never been asked to show it by anyone other than maybe at check-in at the hotel and that was when travelling some years back. In the last 10 years have never shown it at an hotel either.
You shouldn't need to keep a photocopy on you, but it is always a good idea to have a photocopy of the front page which you keep in a separate place to the passport. It makes obtaining a replacement copy much easier if you are unfortunate to have the real thing stolen or lost.
shandy is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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true, but once you are there, wouldn't you feel better, safer keeping it close to your body? it can be stolen, the hotel could burn down. I know these things are unlikely but can happen. My passport never leaves my body while travelling.
cigalechanta is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 06:57 PM
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I'm in Cigalechanta's camp... that's partly what a money belt is for... I can't travel without the passport, therefore it is not leaving my possession.

If you were asked by authorities for your papers, you must have something to show them, but perhaps a copy would suffice.
Travelnut is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 07:21 PM
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If you want to do some shopping and get the tax returned...you will need to show your passport at the store when they fill out the paperwork.
margyb is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 07:33 PM
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I am in agreement with cigalechanta and travelnut.
francophile03 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 08:46 PM
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By law you must have identity papers. A passport would take care of this.
SalB is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 09:12 PM
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I will NEVER leave my passport in a hotel room again. Mine was stolen by cleaning staff at our hotel during the Salt Lake City Olympics. I had it very well-hidden but they still found it (I hope they also liked sifting through my dirty clothing). I only discovered it missing when we went to leave and I was getting my travel documents ready for the airport. Serves me right for taking for granted that it would be secure in the good ol' USA and not using the safe.
taggie is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 09:19 PM
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I "might" leave a passport in a hotel safe but usually I always keep it with me. But you say you are staying in an apartment -- I would never leave my passport in a flan apartment. There is limited security and you do not know who else might have keys.

I'm not paranoid - I rent flats almost evey trip to Europe. But I NEVER leave valuables there.
janis is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 09:27 PM
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Once in France I was asked to show my passport as ID when using a credit card at a store, but I should think a photocopy would have been sufficient. Still, I'm in the carry it with me camp.
mebanese is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 09:37 PM
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don't know where the "flan" came from - either a typo or I'm needing a midnight snack . . . . . . . .
janis is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 09:41 PM
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Count me in for the snack! I like my flan with mushrooms.
mebanese is offline  
Jul 10th, 2004, 09:48 PM
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I thought flan is sweet. How do mushrooms figure into it?
francophile03 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 01:13 AM
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Some people advise not to leave your passport in the hotel room because they has theirs stolen, or because the hotel might burn down, or whatever. But similarily, bringing it on you means that you could lost it, or be assaulted and have it stolen, etc... So I can't see how there could be a definite answer to such a question. I would suspect nevertheless that the risks are higher if you carry it on you, but it's purely a guess.

In any case, I would mention that though losing your passport would certainly be a pain in the ass (probably significantly less if you can show at the embassy a copy of said passport), it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Anyway, you can't leave it in your appartment (assuming you meant your appartment in the US) since then you couldn't enter the country at all.

From a legal point of view, you're not obligated to carry a passport while in France, but there might be instances when the police can request proofs of your identity. They might or might not be satisfied with a copy of your passport (which isn't an actual proof), depending on the circumstance, I would suspect. If they don't, you might have to come back to the place where you leave your passport with them, or even be detained until your identity has been established (as a french citizen you couldn't be detained for more than some hours for this reason, but as a foreigner, there might be no time limit, or you might even be expelled from the country, I wouldn't know how it works).

Now, we're here in the realm of the very hypothetical and unlikely, if the police officers don't have a particular reason to be suspicious about you. Though I'm sure it happens to some people. Last time I was asked an ID by the police was 20 years ago, while, as a teen-ager, I was with some friends in a cafe which was also a meeting place for various criminals (If you wonder why we were hanging out there, it was because selling beverages obviously wasn't their main source of income, and they would leave us all day long in the cafe for the price of a cup of coffee).

Now, if you look like a potential illegal immigrant (african, arab, etc..), rather than a tourist, you're way more likely to be profiled and asked to show an ID.

As mentionned, a shopowner might also ask for an ID, but this would be a rare instance when using a CC (though it might be more common with foreign cards, especially since I understand american cards don't have the "smart chip" included in all french issued cards, I wouldn't know). In this case, the owner might or might not find a copy of your passport sufficient. It's up to him.
clairobscur is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 02:57 AM
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There is no requirement. There is just choice.
sheila is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 03:44 AM
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Taggie:Are you saying the room had a safe and you chose to hide it instead of securing it in the safe?I always leave our passports in the room safe there is much less chance of loss or theft than carrying it around.If the room doesn't have a safe it is better off in the front desk safe than carrying it around with you.
mgmargate is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 04:13 AM
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Respectfully disagree - no one is getting my passport from my moneybelt, underneath several layers of clothes.
But my aging brain may forget to recover it from anybody's safe if I leave it there...
To each his/her own...
Travelnut is offline  
Jul 11th, 2004, 04:24 AM
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When traveling abroad the passport is your identification method, is like in the US showing your driver's license.
So, do have it with you and use the same precoutionary method as you would do with your driver's license in the States.
In Europe, your passport is your Identification Carnet or the Carnet of identification.
european17 is offline  

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