German castle

Generally, you don’t need to have your passport on you at all times while in Germany. You will likely be escorted to where you keep your passport if for some reason you’re stopped and you don’t have it with you.

If you are carrying your passport, you don’t need to carry any additional identification.

Read on for answers to other questions you might have and for tips for traveling with your passport through Germany and other international locations.

How much time do I need on my passport to travel to Germany?

If you are a non-EU national (not a citizen of the European Union) you must have a valid passport that doesn’t expire till three months or later from when you will be leaving Germany to get into the country. 

Should you carry your passport around with you in Germany?

German law does require you carry your passport with you at all times. That being said, my wife and I haven’t been to Germany yet, but when we go, we will follow what we normally do when we are in any other foreign country, Carry our US driver’s licenses and a copy of our data page from our passports and leave our actual passports back where we are staying. 

No police officer has ever asked to see my passport while in a foreign country. Some might say I get out and have enough fun. I think I do. They just haven’t asked after I have told them what we were up to and shown them my driver’s license.

Related: Should you carry your passport with you in Europe?
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Tips for taking your passport to Germany

These tips and ideas are important for keeping your passport safe and keeping track of it while you are on your trip to Germany.

Keep a color copy of your passport with you.

I have a friend who was in Cancun for a break from the winter weather in Minnesota. One day, she went to breakfast with friends and she left her passport on the table at the restaurant. She realized she had left it just a few minutes after leaving and ran back but it was too late: her passport had been stolen.

Leave it in a safe in your hotel

If you’re planning something, like swimming or a scuba dive where you feel like you won’t have a safe place to lock up your passport or keep it on you, you might want to leave it back at the hotel. I typically do.

Lock it up in the safe in your room. They are typically very safe and secure. Yes, I know they can be broken into if someone is really trying, but they typically are quite safe and unless you have someone who is really out to get you, or you have done something to make the hotel staff grumpy, you will be fine.

Typically, people who try to tell you that hotel safes aren’t secure, are trying to sell you something… or are paranoid. Yes, even if it is a legit website or a close friend.

It boils down to personal preference and how much risk you’re willing to take on for yourself and those traveling with you during your trip abroad.

So You Know – You might get hassled by your insurance company if you don’t lock up your ID or passport in the hotel safe.

picture of a building in Germany

Carry a color copy of my passport and/or your driver’s license

You could carry another form of ID as well. If you were to lose your passport it could be hard to re-enter the US. It’s doable, but a bit of a hassle. Consider carrying a color copy of the Bio/identity page and the latest entry stamp if you do this.

Keep a digital copy on your phone

This could come in handy as well, especially in combination with the paper one.

If you need to, for any reason, be quickly admitted to the Embassy of your country, then carrying something that can prove your citizenship can be very beneficial for you.

Don’t just leave it in your luggage! 

It is more likely to get stolen there. Either by hotel staff, airport staff or pickpockets.

Be careful if someone starts talking to you in the middle of a busy touristy spot.

It might be fine, but it might not. It could be a distraction ploy by a pickpocket. They work in teams where one distracts, the other steals.

Be careful if a vendor requires you to leave your passport 

They might do it legitimately, with no ill-intent, as security to rent a car boat or scooter. Feel the situation out and see if you can leave them your paper copy. 

I just did that to rent a scooter but they looked pretty legit, and I knew we weren’t going to be rally-driving the scooter so I felt the risk was pretty low. It turned out fine.

Though they could have scammed us by claiming that we damaged their vehicle… or kept it if we legitimately damaged the vehicle.

Checkpoint Charlie Germany

If it gets stolen, notify the authorities asap

If you do get your passport stolen, it’s important to notify the nearest authority and file a police report with as much information as possible:

The date, time, location (street address if possible), what color was the vehicle, license plate number, details of how you had your belongings (wallet or bag) open, etc.

Photocopy your passport two times

Make sure one of them is kept with someone who can email, text or fax it to you in an emergency, and the other you could keep with you at all times. 

Do the opposite of what I have suggested

Or carry the original passport and leave a copy in the hotel and pic of it on your phone in case you need to replace a lost original.  

To avoid losing any of these documents while traveling, I store copies of all documents, as well as a list of credit card numbers and phone numbers online.

Note – Having a copy of your passport won’t replace the original if your actual passport is lost or stolen and you need the original. But a copy might make things easier for the embassy staff and yourself if you need to get a replacement.

Make sure someone at home has a copy of your passport in case of an emergency

If you have any issues or if there is some unforeseen emergency, having someone who isn’t on the trip but is highly responsive and responsible keep a copy of your passport, digital or hardcopy, can be helpful. 

It certainly isn’t necessary, but for the same reasons that organizations ask for emergency contact on their applications and waivers, it could be good to have someone available to help with proof of your identity back home. 

Put an emergency contact person’s information inside your passport

And on that note, it would be good to paperclip in the back cover of your passport an emergency contact that has critical information about you and backups of your important documents. 

Should I carry my passport with me in Germany?

German law requires that you have a valid passport to get into the country. However, you are not required to carry your passport with you everywhere you go. You can carry it with you if you want. Both German citizens aged 16 and over and foreigners are subject to needing to have a valid ID.

Does Germany have its own passport?

Germany does have its own passports. German citizens need them in order to travel internationally. Passports and national ID cards give citizens free movement rights and the right to reside in any country within the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland.

Do you have to carry an ID in Germany?

If you’re a German citizen

In Germany, citizens over 16 are required to carry an identity card or passport and present it to authorities on request under the German Act on Identity Cards and Electronic Identification.

If you’re not a German citizen

You need to have a passport or other verified approved documentation with you in the country. You need to be able to present this document to authorities upon request.

A personal identification card is required for citizens of most European countries, including Austria and Germany. German identification cards, also known as Ausweis, serve the same purpose as driver’s licenses in the U.S.

Can I travel to Germany with only 3 months left on my passport?

Yes, you can travel to Germany so long as your passport is valid for three months after you will be exiting the country at the end of your stay. 

Do I need a driver’s license to drive in Germany?

Tourists with US driving licenses can rent cars and drive in Germany for up to six months. To be able to drive in Germany after the first six months of being there, without being in violation of the law, non-EU (European Union) residents must obtain a German license after six months. 

Things NOT to do in Germany

I hope this article has been helpful!

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