Travel documents

Information about Rights & Duties

Documents required from EU citizens, their family members who are not EU citizens, minors travelling alone and non-EU citizens when travelling across borders within the European Union (ID card, visa, passport)

Travel documents for minors

Although it is not prescribed by law, in addition to carrying their own valid travel document (passport, children's passport or ID card), minors travelling alone to or from Germany should also carry a l etter of agreement signed by one of the persons with parental responsibility for them (where possible in the language of their home country and destination country).

Before they depart, it is important to make photocopies of the identity documents being used for the journey by the minor travelling alone and which could potentially be lost. This will make it easier to obtain a replacement passport while abroad if they lose their passport/identity documents.

For minors travelling alone or accompanied by only one parent, it is advisable to have authorisation drawn up from the other person with parental responsibility for the minor but who is not accompanying them, which should include their contact details. This will help to avoid hold-ups during border checks (no need for long searches) and in case of emergencies, as it allows border guards to contact the non-accompanying person with parental responsibility for the minor if there are any doubts about the situation.

Border checks on minors are carried out in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 (Schengen Borders Code) . According to Article 20(1)(f) of this Regulation in conjunction with Annex VII, border guards must pay particular attention to minors in order to prevent them from being unlawfully removed from the custody of the person(s) with parental responsibility for them or from leaving the territory against the wishes of the person(s) with parental responsibility for them.

In addition, it may be wise to carry authorisation from the other person with parental responsibility for the minor but who is not accompanying them as a precautionary measure in the event of certain emergencies, for example if the child falls ill while travelling. This can be provided as evidence to any doctor treating the minor that the person accompanying them has the capacity to decide whether the necessary treatment should be given.

The letter of agreement should indicate:

  • that the minor has been given consent to travel alone;
  • the contact details for the persons with parental responsibility for the minor;
  • the route being travelled; and
  • contact details for any adult escort officials where applicable.

Lost passport or ID card

In the event of loss of passports/identity documents abroad, citizens should obtain a police statement confirming the loss, and submit this to their embassy or consulate general along with their application for a replacement travel document. Authorities in Germany cannot be contacted for queries at weekends or on public holidays, so please remember that documents can only be issued on the next working day.

Any photocopies of the identity documents (which are now missing) that you have brought with you for the trip will facilitate issuing the replacement passport abroad, as well as the process of reapplying to your passport/identification authority in Germany.

Identity documents that have been reported lost or stolen should no longer be used as travel documents. Even if the document reported lost has been reported recovered in the meantime, this does not automatically lead to immediate deletion of the loss record in the Interpol database or this deletion appearing in national databases of states around the world. Border police therefore frequently confiscate recovered identity documents because the documents in question are still registered as missing in the system.

Expired passport or ID card

Citizens of countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement ( Schengen countries ) , such as Germany, may cross anywhere along the shared internal borders of EU Member States without having to go through border checks.

However, German nationals must still carry a valid passport or ID card (or official replacement passport) whenever they leave or enter Germany. In addition, German citizens may travel freely within the Schengen area using only their ID card as a travel document.

You must always carry a valid identity document whenever you cross a border. If you do not, you will be committing an administrative offence that is subject to a fine of a minimum of EUR 5 and, unless prescribed otherwise by law, a maximum of EUR 5 000.

When travelling outside the Schengen area, you will usually need a passport. Some countries require your passport to be valid for at least another 6 months.

If your passport or ID card has expired, the German Federal Police may, under certain conditions, issue a replacement passport for German citizens that can be used as a travel document. This is only possible if you cannot obtain a (temporary) travel document from a passport authority in time, there are no security concerns, and there are no reasons for you to be prohibited from travelling or obtaining a passport.

The German Federal Police can also issue an emergency travel document for EU citizens if their passport or the ID card issued by their home country has expired. EU citizens whose travel document is lost or stolen in Germany should first try and obtain replacement identity papers from the embassy of their home country; it is only in the event that this would cause an undue burden that the German Federal Police or local alien authorities may issue emergency travel documents upon request and upon presentation of a police report attesting to the loss. Replacement documents may usually only be issued to children and persons under the age of 18 with the consent of their legal representative. The person requesting replacement documents must be able to provide official documents proving their identity and nationality (for example an expired or replacement passport).

Germany will begin issuing EU emergency travel documents in accordance with Directive (EU) 2019/997 once the European Commission has adopted the technical specifications, the body producing the documents has obtained the necessary forms, and the specialist IT procedures used by the authorities responsible for filling out the new forms have been adapted.

Germany has an agreement with certain EU Member States which means that German travel documents may in principle be recognised by those countries as proof of identity up to 1 year after expiry.

The countries are: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia. However, this European agreement does not guarantee travel, nor does it make recognition of the expired documents mandatory, for example by transport companies. In order to avoid any problems when travelling with expired documents, it is advisable to only travel with valid documents.

Further information

Travel documents for minors

For information about specific rules in certain destination countries and about travel and safety information for German nationals, please click here (in German).

You can also obtain information about the applicable rules in the destination country from the relevant country's mission (in German).

Lost passport or ID card

The German Federal Foreign Office website provides information on the application documents required and consular assistance available in the event of l oss of your passport (in German).

Expired passport or ID card

Further information is available from the Bundespolizei (German Federal Police).

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Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community

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