I'm an American in Germany. I lost my passport, and I need to travel to the Netherlands. Will I be able to?
October 28, 2004 10:19 AM   Subscribe

[EU-Filter] I'm an American currently studying in Germany. I'm planning to travel to the Netherlands soon; unfortunately, I had to give out my passport to start the student-visa process. I've managed to lose the copies I made. I'm travelling by train. Will not having a passport be a huge problem? I've heard yes, I've heard no - so I'm turning to the Green for the answer.
posted by ruddhist to Law & Government (19 answers total)
This seems to say you will be ok. I don't know whether you will have any problems getting hotel rooms, etc without a passport though. some places seem to like them when you check in, others less so. Presumably, they're not essential.
Also, from the few times I've made the German-NL journey I don't think any checks were made.
posted by biffa at 11:43 AM on October 28, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, biffa, you've taught me something I didn't know as well as eased my mind. I was worried because I've been pass-controlled on the German-Swiss border before. I was never really sure what the "rules" were about that kind of thing.

Also, I'm staying with a friend, so no problem with hotels, etc.
posted by ruddhist at 12:07 PM on October 28, 2004

Back in 1988, I was traveling by train from Lille, France to Amsterdam. At one point I stopped a train official to ask when we would be reaching the Belgian border, as I wanted to have my passport ready. That's when he informed me I had passed the border about an hour before.

I've never been asked for my passport in all my travels through western Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Switz. & the Low Countries), crossing borders on foot, by car, or train. Hell, twice I didn't even have to open my passport at the airport. But then I'm Canadian, and Europeans like us more. (joke, joke.).

Honestly, I doubt you'll have any problems.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:14 PM on October 28, 2004

Border crossing should be fine, as evidenced in Biffa's post. Careful if you have a run in with the authorities though. No paperwork to hand in any foreign country can lead to unimaginable beaurocratic problems, no matter where you're from or where you are.
posted by davehat at 12:18 PM on October 28, 2004

I wouldn't be so certain. I took a train trip from Germany to Denmark a couple of years ago and was stopped twice to check passports. Maybe the Danes are more strict about that sort of thing. How soon are you travelling? If it's more than a week away, you should be able to get at least a faxed copy of your passport from the people holding the original. Anything is better then nothing, in this day and age.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:23 PM on October 28, 2004

I went on a day trip to Salzburg and only realized once I got back to Munich that I had left my passport in my room there. Austria appeared to be fairly lax about people coming from Germany.
posted by oaf at 12:34 PM on October 28, 2004

I actually forgot my passport when I went to Berlin from Amsterdam. Nobody ever asked for it so I only discovered this upon my return home to Amsterdam. Made this return trip three times, had my passport checked once.
Driving from France (alps) through to Denmark though, I had my passport checked three times. Of course we did pass non-EU territory aka Switzerland.
Every time I've travelled by airplane I've had my passport checked (though between Denmark and Sweden any ID will do nicely).

So my guess is, it depends on how you travel.
posted by dabitch at 12:36 PM on October 28, 2004

I've been asked for my passport exactly once while traveling in Europe (other than at an airport). It was while taking a train through Switzerland that wasn't otherwise going to stop in Switzerland and it was in the middle of the frigging night. But that's the Swiss. They tend to be sticklers for the rules and very attentive to detail.
posted by TimeFactor at 12:56 PM on October 28, 2004

Response by poster: Civil_Disobedient: Tomorrow morning. The whole trip was pretty much spontaneously planned. I had my ticket bought before I thought twice about the passport. I felt pretty stupid shortly after.

But hey, I'll keep my fingers crossed. I don't think I look particularly threatening, so that's a plus, I suppose. And if all else fails, I'll just smile, act befuddled, and let the "bewildered American" stereotype act in my favor. : )
posted by ruddhist at 12:57 PM on October 28, 2004

You're generally okay crossing borders within the EU, although I had to present my passport at Waterloo/Gare du Nord when travellng on Eurostar. Airports are stricter, and airlines seem increasingly to insist on requiring passports as ID for picking up tickets; e.g. RyanAir now requires you show a passport to get a boarding pass for all international flights.
posted by carter at 1:33 PM on October 28, 2004

I was required to show my passport to French police while driving from Germany to France. They had various spot checks setup on the border, but this was the day after the Madrid bombing. You might be ok but as a foreigner I wouldn’t want to travel too much in the EU without my passport. You never know when it might be necessary to produce it.
posted by Tenuki at 3:28 PM on October 28, 2004

I know it's different for travelling outta the UK.

I failed to renew my (UK) passport, and was told in no uncertain terms by the airline that I would not board at Stansted ('London'). The UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement, whereas all the other old 15, apart from Ireland, are. I think I may have gotten on, if I had a photo Driving Licence - however my old pink paper one hasnt yet fallen apart...so I won't replace it yet.

I have flown without a passport - I returned from Spain without one in 1986. What else could they do - I wanted to get home. They wanted me to, too!
posted by dash_slot- at 3:55 PM on October 28, 2004

I estimate I made about 20 train border crossings and I had my passport checked 3 times this last summer. Two of these were on the swiss borders, and the other was on the Eurostar into London. The netherlands, belgium, germany, and france never had passport checks. My guess is you will be fine going into or out of anywhere in Benelux (belgium-netherlands-luxembourg) sans passeporte.
posted by spatula at 9:00 PM on October 28, 2004

germany-holland was fine for me (no passport check). so was holland -belgium. notch 1 in the "anecdotal evidence in your favour" column.
posted by louigi at 9:13 PM on October 28, 2004

As everyone else here has stated, you'll probably be fine. Relax -- the last thing you want is your nervousness about not having a passport create a self-fulfilling prophesy and make someone suspicious, and thus more likely to ask.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:59 PM on October 28, 2004

Yeah, the Swiss seem to generally make a show of asking for it. I crossed into Switzerland by car last year with some Austrian friends and they said they always get checked there.
IIRC Denmark was previously in an agreement with the other Scandinavian countries regarding border crossings, which meant some problems with signing up to Schengen until relatively late due to Norway being part of the deal. Back in 1994 a man was arrested in front of me trying to illegally enter Denmark with a forged passport, apparently it was pretty common at the time, there were a lot of forged temporary passports around. The border guard had actually said this too us immediately before opening the carriage we were sitting by and asking to see the passport of the guy who turned out to be illegal.
Had my passport checked getting off the express boat from Malmo to Copenhagen, though I gathered from the reaction of the alighting locals that this was unusual.
Been Germany-Austria a few times without problem, some trains travelling from one Austrian place to another actually go through Germany and there is complete indifference to the border.
posted by biffa at 2:51 AM on October 29, 2004

maybe it's not obvious to americans, but switzerland is not part of the eu. hence the extra emphasis on passports.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:52 PM on October 29, 2004

As long as you stay within the eu's Schengen area, there are no borders thus no passport checks.

The problem is that your US passport is your visiting card to your nearest US embassy. So, if you lose your wallet, or are arrested for contestable reasons, you will not be able to prove your identity nor access the embassy as quickly as you would with a passport.

Frankly, your story sounds a bit strange to me, an american student in France, de longue date. Here, the authorities will never take your passport for visa/residency card purposes - an act which is incidently illegal under international law. (the only authority that can take your passport away is.. the military and only when you step into military compounds that operate under martial law)

Good luck.
posted by ruelle at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2004

Response by poster: Well, I did actually get checked, as it turns out. The woman who checked me was really nice, though, and after I handed her every piece of I.D. I had on me, she just told me to make sure I brought my passport next time.

I'm not particularly looking forward to the trip home, but I guess there's nothing to be done about it now. Just cross my fingers and hope lightning doesn't strike twice.

ruelle: It was a service from the University to "make things easier for me." I should know better by now not to believe them when they say that. : /
posted by ruddhist at 7:28 AM on October 30, 2004

« Older Term for images with rotational symmetry?   |   Health Insurance - times two! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.