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Identity Control

Verified 18 octobre 2021 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

You wonder who can control your identity, why and where? You don't know if you still have to carry your documents with you to prove your identity? This page explains the rules for identity checks for a major and a minor.

For a major

The police (police, gendarmerie) authorised to carry out identity checks are:

  • Judicial Police Officer (OPJ)
  • Judicial police officers, under the responsibility of the OPJ
  • Some deputy judicial police officers, under the responsibility of the OPJ

A customs officer may also carry out identity checks in certain cases.

  FYI : a municipal police officer can identify you when they see a contravention. For example, a parking ticket. However, it is not allowed to control your identity.

Prevention Control

Law enforcement can control your identity, no matter how you behave. to prevent public order.

There must be an effective risk of harm to the safety of persons or property at the place and time of control.

Control of an offence

Within the framework of judicial review, law enforcement can check your identity if there is reason to suspect that you are in one of the following situations:

  • You committed or attempted to commit offence
  • Prepare a crime or offence
  • You can provide information about a crime or an offence
  • You are wanted by order of a judge
  • You violate your obligations or prohibitions relating to judicial review, a measure house arrest with electronic surveillance, a sentence or measure followed by the sentencing judge

Law enforcement can also control your identity. on order public prosecutor, to seek and punish the perpetrators offences precise. In this case, the prosecutor specifies the place and duration of the check. Identity verification remains valid if another offence is discovered.

The public prosecutor may also arrange for an identity check to search for and prosecute the following offences : terrorist act, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, weapons of war, explosives, theft and concealment, trafficking in narcotic. The prosecutor shall specify the place and duration of the check, which may not exceed 24 hours (renewable). Identity verification remains valid if another offence is discovered.

  Please note : identity checks may be carried out on the occasion of search of vehicle and/or baggage inspection.

Schengen control

In Schengen Area, identity checks may be carried out to prevent and search offences cross-border crime.

The check can take place in the following areas:

  • Area within 20 km of a border
  • Wider area, on a highway or on a train
  • Port, airport, train station and area nearby

The check can take up to 12 consecutive hours in the same place.

For a Frenchman

You can prove your identity by all means.

You can present one of the following documents:

  • Identity document (identity card, passport, driving licence)
  • Other document (birth certificate, family booklet, military booklet, voter card, vital card...)

The testimony can be accepted. For example, the person with you confirms your identity.

For a foreigner

You have to prove your identity and prove that you are legal stay in France.

You can prove your identity by submitting one of the following documents: residence permit, passport, driving licence...

The testimony can be accepted. For example, the person with you confirms your identity.

Refusal or impossibility of proving identity

If you refuse or cannot prove your identity, you can be held, either on the spot or at the police station, for a check.

The verification of identity must not exceed 4 hours since the beginning of the check (8 hours in Mayotte).

TheOPJ must give you the opportunity to provide your identity by any means.

You can submit new papers, call testimonials.

You have the right to public prosecutor and any person of your choice.

If you maintain your refusal or if there is no other way to establish your identity, the public prosecutor or the investigating judge may authorise the taking of fingerprints and photographs.

Refusing to take fingerprints or to be photographed is punishable by €3,750 fine and 3 months in prison.

At the end of the audit, a copy of the minutes is provided to you.

Suspect of terrorist activity

If, during an identity check or verification, it is revealed that you may be linked to a terrorist activity, you may be detained on the spot or at the police station.

One OPJ check your administrative situation.

The public prosecutor must be notified at the beginning of your retention.

Retention cannot last more than 4 hours.

You can notify anyone you like.

The reason for your restraint must be explained to you.

You have the right to remain silent.

At the end of the detention, a copy of the minutes is given to you.

For a minor

The police (police, gendarmerie) authorised to carry out identity checks are:

  • Judicial Police Officer (OPJ)
  • Judicial police officers, under the responsibility of the OPJ
  • Some deputy judicial police officers, under the responsibility of the OPJ

A customs officer may also carry out identity checks in certain cases.

  FYI : a municipal police officer can identify you when they see a contravention. For example, a parking ticket. However, it is not allowed to control your identity.

Prevention Control

Law enforcement can control your identity, no matter how you behave. to prevent public order.

There must be an effective risk of harm to the safety of persons or property at the place and time of control.

Control of an offence

Within the framework of judicial review, law enforcement can check your identity if there is reason to suspect that you are in one of the following situations:

  • You committed or attempted to commit offence
  • Prepare a crime or offence
  • You can provide information about a crime or an offence
  • You are wanted by order of a judge
  • You violate your obligations or prohibitions relating to judicial review, a measure house arrest with electronic surveillance, a sentence or measure followed by the sentencing judge.

Law enforcement can also control your identity. on order public prosecutor, to seek and punish the perpetrators offences precises. In this case, the prosecutor specifies the place and duration of the check. Identity verification remains valid if another offence is discovered.

The public prosecutor may also arrange for an identity check to search for and prosecute the following offences : terrorist act, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, weapons of war, explosives, theft and concealment, drug trafficking. The prosecutor shall specify the place and duration of the check, which may not exceed 24 hours (renewable). Identity verification remains valid if another offence is discovered.

  Please note : identity checks may be carried out on the occasion of search of a vehicle and/or baggage inspection.

Schengen control

In Schengen Area, identity checks may be carried out to prevent and search offences cross-border crime.

The check can take place in the following areas:

  • Area within 20 km of a border
  • Wider area, on a highway or on a train
  • Port, airport, train station and area nearby

The check can take up to 12 consecutive hours in the same place.

You can prove your identity by all means.

For example, you can present the following documents:

  • Identity Title: identity card, passport
  • Other document: birth certificate, family booklet, vital card...

The testimony can be accepted. For example, the person with you confirms your identity.

Refusal or impossibility of proving identity

If you refuse or cannot prove your identity, you can be held, either on the spot or at the police station, for a check.

The public prosecutor is informed at the beginning of the retention.

Your legal representative is notified and must assist you, unless impossible.

The verification of identity must not exceed 4 hours since the beginning of the check (8 hours in Mayotte).

TheOPJ must give you the opportunity to provide your identity by any means.

You have the right to notify any person of your choice.

If you continue to refuse, or if there is no other way to establish your identity, the prosecutor or the investigating judge may authorise the taking of fingerprints and photographs.

Refusing to take fingerprints or to be photographed is punishable by €3,750 fine and 3 months in prison.

At the end of the audit, a copy of the minutes is provided to you.

Suspect of terrorist activity

If, during an identity check or verification, it is revealed that you may be linked to a terrorist activity, you may be detained on the spot or at the police station.

One OPJ check your administrative situation.

The prior agreement of public prosecutor is required.

Your legal representative is notified and must assist you, unless impossible.

Retention cannot last more than 4 hours.

You can notify anyone you like.

The reason for your restraint must be explained to you.

You have the right to remain silent.

At the end of the detention, a copy of the minutes is given to you.