No Passport? No Problem(o)

Took a trip out the other weekend to do some food shopping at Carrefour. Carrefour is like a Target or Walmart type mega shopping center. They have everything from home appliances to fresh seafood. Being stuck where there’s only one supermarket (and the selection is quite modest), having a choice of products is one of those little tastes of home that you need to keep you sane.

But before we crossed the border I remembered that I forgotten my passport. We were already in the queue to enter Spain so we couldn’t turn the car around. We told the border control guy that I left my passport and he said we had to leave and then come back in and get it. That obviously seems a little strange as instead of letting us turn around we’re now making two illegal border crossings. But we complied and entered into Spain. When we looked at the line of cars waiting at the border control checkpoint it was about 1/4 mile long so we said screw it and went to Carrefour and figured we’d deal with the passport issue on the way back.

Driving back across the border the immigration guy asks for my passport. No passport. We tell him that I forgot it and that the other guy said to go out and come back in. Of course we didn’t mention that that was over an hour ago. Why volunteer incriminating information if you don’t have to? But he called my bluff and went and talked to the guys on the exit side and then he came back and asked how long ago had they told us to go out and come back in. I fessed up and they asked me for proof that I actually lived there. I had nothing on me. Nothing. Sure, a US driver’s license, some credit cards, and such. That I had. Anything even remotely indicating that I belonged there? Not so much. Well, except for a dry cleaning receipt which . . . he accepted! He waived us right in on nothing more than a dry cleaning receipt.

So, I’ve scanned a copy of the dry cleaning receipt (click on the image for a larger copy) so that others can use it as a proven valid form of ID should they also forget/lose/misplace their other identification documents.


I’ve since purchased a wallet large enough to hold my passport as well as some credit cards as I’m not sure which other countries actually accept a dry cleaning receipt.

6 thoughts on “No Passport? No Problem(o)”

  1. Jairo,

    I have a legal visa (work) for Gib but there is a passport control office on both sides of the boarder between Spain and Gib. When I go out I have to show a passport and when I return I have to show a passport. Sometimes they’ll accept a residence card but when the Spanish border control guys feel a little pissy they’ll give you a hard time about not having a passport so it’s safer just to carry the passport.


  2. Hi Bill. Check this out.

    The 1985 Schengen Agreement is an agreement among European states which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls between the participating countries.

    When you enter a Schengen country as a foreigner you are supossed to do it with a legal visa. Therefore, you can travel within those countries without documents. I think what happened to you is that you had to pass a security control, as it could be at any street, so they asked for your ID or whatever.

    UK is not a Schengen country so Spain, in the past, used that to closed the Gibraltar border to put pressure on British government… but that another issue: policy.

    All this as I know.

  3. Hi Jario,

    Yes, for EU citizens that would be correct. I am a US citizen residing in the EU though which means I still have to show a passport to cross from one EU country to another. Also, I think the “identification is not necessary” is not quite accurate. You still need to show a residency card. You can’t just show up at London Heathrow and say that you live in the EU so you aren’t required to have any form of identification 🙂

    Also, the Spain/Gibraltar relationship is a tricky one. Spain often intentionally slows up boarder crossings as a way to passively/aggressively respond to it’s resentment over the fact Gibraltar doesn’t want to be a part of Spain. It wasn’t too long ago that Spain completely sealed Gibraltar’s boarder and the only way in or out of here was via sea or air.


  4. Hi Bill. I’m from Spain. You probably don’t know that you can travel within the European Union countries and identification is not necessary, as when you travel from New York to Pennsylvania.

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