Travel Q&A: The European Union

Question: “I live in America, and I’m going on holiday to Spain next summer. I’d also like to go to Italy, and I know I can drive there from Spain. My question is about my passport; will I need to show it when I cross the border from Spain to Italy and vice versa? I know they’re both in the European Union, so I’m not sure if normal border controls apply. If at all possible, I’d rather not carry my passport around with me.”

Answer:

While Spain and Italy are both in the European Union, you will still need your passport and the usual forms of ID – such as medical insurance documentation – to cross the border.

It’s an easy mistake to make. In the United Kingdom, for example, you do not need a passport to cross the border from England to Scotland or Wales to England – so there is a precedent for this thinking. However, the European Union is largely a political union – the countries within it remain separate, and regular border controls apply.

On another note, while it’s understandable that you don’t want to carry your passport with you, in some European countries you are required to do so by law. In Italy, for example, police have the right to stop and ask anyone, at any time, to produce documentation as to their identity. It is therefore worth investing in a money-belt or similar to keep your passport in, so if you do get stopped, you won’t have any problems.

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