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Pickpockets & Passports

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2 posts
new member
Jul 31, 2015 - 1:13 AM

I have been reading a lot about pickpockets in Europe. I generally do not like to carry my passport and would prefer to leave it in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy and US Drivers License. Is a copy of my passport sufficient if traveling by train, or do I need to carry the original?

15872 posts
expert &
Jul 31, 2015 - 3:20 PM

Hi brimsco,

As far as I know the official rule is to carry your ID at all times. Police can ask for it, as well as train conductors if you have a rail pass (which should have the ID number on it). Of course a copy is better than nothing in case it's requested (which is rare), but I think it can be an issue. This is what I do: I carry my ID, credit/debit cards and cash close to my body, not in a backpack for example. I have a copy available just in case.

There are no loads of pickpockets in Switzerland, but theft does happen. Usually in crowded places like bigger cities and large rail stations. Make sure to keep an eye on your luggage at all times, even if people approach you for help or whatever, which can be a way to distract you. If my backpack contains anything valuable I lock it. I always keep it within sight. So, if I place it in the overhead luggage rack of a train, for example, I don't place it directly over my seat (where I can't see it).

Last modified on Jul 31, 2015 - 3:22 PM by Arno
7567 posts
Jul 31, 2015 - 10:27 PM in reply to brimsco

I travel a LOT on trains in Switzerland, even though I have a rental car for part of each trip. The trains are quite convenient for local transport as well as for longer distances. During any typical 2 week trip I will use 30 -50 segments (includes changes of train) plus frequent travel on city trams.

I am asked for my passport at least once per every two trips. Periodically there is a random check of all passengers in a car or on a train, as part of the ongoing survey process to understand travel patterns. If you look like you might not have the proper paperwork ( such as my 18 year old grandson who was with me on the last trip) you'll get extra attention.

It would be a mistake not to have your ID with you, since you are expected to have it as a rule of living in Switzerland.

Just keep it where it is hard to get.

You will not find on Swiss trains or Swiss station platforms hordes of beggars with babies, who might then throw the baby at you while their colleague picks your pocket. I'd be more careful in Italy and France.

How you feel about it is less important to the security officials in ANY country than is keeping you safe.



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