Train e-ticket travellers fined in France for not carrying ID

Several passengers have been fined for not carrying the correct ID on French trains despite having a valid e-ticket. What are the rules?

Train passengers in France should always carry ID
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A recent case in France has highlighted the need for train passengers to be careful to always carry valid identification when travelling.

A passenger with a season ticket was fined €120, later increased to €170 for non-payment, on the Tours to Paris TGV in February for travelling without a valid ID. The ticket inspector refused to accept a photo of her passport on her mobile phone, according to a report in France Bleu.

The passenger, who pays several hundred euros a month for a season ticket on the high-speed train, had left her purse and ID at home. Despite having her ticket checked with no problem in the morning, she was fined in the evening for not carrying a valid ID.

French rail operator SNCF justified the fine by explaining that only physical IDs are accepted as part of its “anti-fraud policy” and that this is set out in their terms and conditions.

What ID do passengers need to carry on French trains?

SNCF only accepts physical IDs, which means any photos or scans of IDs on your phone will not be valid.

During ID checks, ticket inspectors will accept valid photo IDs including:

  • A valid national identity card (carte nationale d'identité), if you have one
  • A passport
  • A residence permit (carte de séjour)

What ID is not valid when travelling on French trains?

Note that the carte Vitale health insurance card is not a valid form of ID on SNCF trains, despite being a valid form of ID in France according to the relevant government website.

Companies and institutions in France can choose which ID to accept out of the government-approved IDs, so it is always worth double-checking which are valid.

Should you carry your ID at all times in France?

Both residents and visitors to France should carry a valid form of ID with them at all times, as you must be able to produce a valid ID if stopped by the police.

If you cannot produce a valid ID, you could theoretically be taken to a police station for questioning.

Read more: What are valid forms of ID in France and must I always carry one?

Can you dispute train fines in France?

You can lodge a complaint on the SCNF’s dedicated complaints website within three months of the fine being issued. If successful, you should receive a refund within a few weeks.

You could also try to obtain a refund from a ticket agent at a train station, but this is not always guaranteed.

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