Can we travel to Europe with expired identity papers? We will answer you

“I have to go to an island in Italy by ferry with my children. For one of them, the passport expired more than a year ago. Is getting there a problem? », asked Nicolas, from Rennes. To travel within the European Union and some European countries, a national identity card or passport is mandatory. But can you travel with an expired passport or identity card? Western France you answer.

Differences between countries in the Schengen area

Since 1er January 2014, the period of validity of the identity card was increased from ten to fifteen years for adults. In theory, it is therefore possible to continue using your identity card five years after its expiry date to travel in Europe. However, this French law does not apply to all countries in the Schengen area.

To list them, only Switzerland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg and Malta have officially confirmed that they accept the expired identity card and consider it a valid document, after regulation ten years. On the other hand, Belgium, Norway and Lithuania do not recognize it.

Finally, others, such as Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, UK, Slovakia and Sweden did not comment.

In any case, it is good to consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before booking a trip to check if the country you are going to applies the law of 2014. On this site, you can print the an explanatory sheet available in several languages ​​to indicate if there are any problems on arrival.

What about the passport?

To travel with an expired passport, the rules are a little different. It is possible to travel to Europe with a passport that has expired less than 5 years ago, said the Court of Cassation in a ruling on February 5, 2020.

This judgment is the result of a case decided by the Court that fought a French traveler against an air carrier. This traveler was refused boarding the plane when he left to stay in Greece, because of the expired passport of three years of one of the children.

The Court of Cassation relied on the 1957 Council of Europe treaty which stipulated that the nationals of the signatory states “may enter the territory of others and leave it at all borders under the cover of one of the documents listed in the annex”. However, in France and many other countries, this appendix lists the valid passport or expired less than 5 years and the valid identity card.

So it is theoretically possible to travel within the European Union with a French passport that has expired in less than five years.

Also read: Covid19. Corsica, Spain, Greece, United States… What are the travel rules this summer?

Ferry, plane… Are the rules the same?

Are the rules the same for all forms of transportation? What is the rule on ferries, as Nicolas asked us? “Often the ferries ask for valid identification documents, because they are dealing with maritime border legislation and to comply with all the laws of the countries of possible stopovers (planned or emergency) “explained Arthur Lindon, communications officer at the European Consumer Center.

“If we start from the principle that the ferry never leaves French and Italian waters, the European Agreement on the Regime of the Movement of Persons between the Member States of the Council of Europe (ETS No. 025) can be confirmed which is useful and has already been successfully used by an EasyJet passenger”. Arthur Lindon refers here to the judgment of the Court of Cassation on February 5, 2020, which is explained in the paragraph above.

For a flight, the best thing is to ask the airline. He is the one who examines the identity documents, so that he can answer his own policy in this regard.

There is no exception except for the European Union

Outside the European Union, a valid passport is required. This means that the passport was issued less than five years ago for a minor and less than ten years ago for an adult.

Some countries still require that the passport be valid for six months after the visa expires, as in the case of India for example. It is the same scheme for the United States, where the validity of the passport of a foreign national must include a period of six months after his departure. For other countries like Senegal, three months is enough.

Finally, the best thing is to apply for a passport renewal when its expiry date is near. “To avoid any inconvenience during your trip, you are strongly recommended to favor the use of a valid passport rather than an identity card with an expired expiration date, even if this is considered by the French authorities still valid, advises the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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