Recent Experience :: Copy of ID Not Enough

Brits in Crete blog has heard recently of several experiences by visitors to Crete that carrying a copy of your passport appears not to be enough for the local police.

I mention this for the reason the British Government through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in its travel advice for Greece online information mentions that you should carry a photo copy of your passport when in the country. Clearly this is not always enough.

This is the context of the FCO statement on its travel advice for Greece page:

"Around 2 million British nationals visit Greece every year. Most visits are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. See Crime
Carry a copy of your passport or other photographic ID which confirms British nationality at all times."

When would the police stop anyone and a possibly "dodgy" situation arise for those stopped?

When driving .....

As we know Cretan local police forces often have two day blitzes on motorists with on-the-spot road checks. Sometimes these are at road blocks and sometimes traffic cops parked at the side of the road and flagging drivers down.  Often the cops will mention the word "controle"which means they are conducting a document check. In other words that the driver and documents of the car being driven are in order. Passengers are also asked for their identification. On these occasions when it is a "non Greek" person driving, one of the first questions will be "passport" not a copy of a passport.

Then there is perhaps being at the wrong time in the wrong place .....

At other times, and for different reasons there are late night checks of drivers. Notably on Saturday evenings it can be police seeking out those driving over the drink driving limit. Or simply an internal security check.

Whatever the reason and time of day, it is on these occasions no questions should pop up that a person's stay in Greece is anything but legal. If the cops on patrol are using a vehicle without the full computer connection to Greece's central crime database then there is a good chance the cops will wish to verify a person's status back at the police station. No one would wish that to happen at unsociable times of the day or night. Greek police have a tendency to act first and ask questions later. Just be warned.

I just hope no one has been misguided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's advice on Greece and that it will review its advice that it is acceptable in Greece for a British person to carry a copy of their passport. Local police practice on Crete is they want to see the real thing, not a copy, usually. British ex-pat residents should carry their residence permit.