In Hitchcock's 1972 film Frenzy (at about the time 00:54:55) a character says: We can get a day trip to France. You don't need a passport. (He is a commoner, no diplomatic status etc, in fact a fugitive from justice, unjustly accused...)

I think that the plot of the movie happens at about the same date as the creation of the movie.

Is it true that no passport was needed to go from London to Paris at that time? Was it because of the means of transport - namely boat in this case?

If yes: when was passport control introduced?

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    The actual question should probably be: when were strict passport controls removed. Possibly 1973 when it joined the EEC; possibly earlier. You'd still need an ID to cross the border though. Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:21
  • H:SE on history of passport controls - relevant but does not answer the question.
    – MCW
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:24
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    1972 predated the UK joining the EEC; in any case, the EEC didn't abolish passport control for community citizens either. Perhaps the character simply lied, or was hoping to sneak into France.
    – Semaphore
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:43
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    It’s easy to forget that the world was not always the way it is today... once upon a time (even as recently as a couple decades ago), it was both possible and even common to travel internationally without a passport. Commented May 3, 2018 at 21:51
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    @cipricus Yeah, in fact, even as recently as the 90’s. During that period of relative world peace between the end of the Cold War and the start of the War on Terrorism, passport-less international travel was fairly common. Commented May 3, 2018 at 22:57

3 Answers 3


Piecing together various sources, it is clear that there was a no-passport agreement between the United Kingdom and France from 1961 until 1984 and that, even after the termination of this agreement, British citizens were able to use a British Visitor's Passport (in addition to the standard 'full' passport) until 1995.

Between 1961 and 1995, the UK issued from Post Offices

a cheap, simple visitor’s passport with which Britons could enter 25 countries.

enter image description here Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alwyn_ladell/8631486980

This excerpt from Tourism and Political Boundaries (the preceding text can't be seen in google books but it evidently refers to the 'no passport agreement') gives more details:

...allowed British citizens to cross to France for short excursions and French citizens to Britain using only unofficial identity cards, which were issued by travel agencies cross-channel transportation companies without any kind of background or citizen checks...these no-passport excursions were abandoned by France in 1984.

One could thus travel even without with the British Visitor's Passport (BVP). One of the documents the above passage is most likely referring to is the British Excursion Document (BED) which was valid for 3 days and which could be used for day trips to France (cost £2.50). This Home Front article in the Daily Telegraph gives different conditions for the BED (perhaps from a different date):

...you could travel to France on a British Excursion Document, which lasted for one month, cost just £3 and was valid for return trips of up to 60 hours from the same air or sea port.

Confirmation of the termination of the agreement in May 1984 concerning non-passport documents can be found in the French Archives Nationales, ref: circulaire n° 84-214 du 17 juillet 1984.

However, it was still possible to travel without a full passport as

Later in 1984...a new form of visitors card was issued, which enabled British residents to visit France for periods under 60 hours.

The BVP also continued to be accepted until 1995:

France and the United Kingdom have mutually agreed to discontinue, as from 1 January 1995, their bilateral agreement of 14 February 1961 on the basis of which the British visitors' passport was accepted as a valid travel document.

Other sources:

Exchange of Notes between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the French Republic extending the Agreement of February 14, 1961, to British Visitor's Passports issued in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (pdf file)

Traités et accords de la France

  • 2
    I remember the visitors passports - my wife had one back in the day which we used to go on holiday to France and IIRC Malta. They were just a folded card with the passport style royal crest on the front cover and a photo glued in on the inside.
    – uɐɪ
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 8:35
  • note that the photo shows a customs stamp from Zeebrugge, Belgium. So apparently the thing was valid in Belgium as well.
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 4:48

For the timeframe 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1973, where I regularly used the ferry connections

  • Dover <-> Ostende
  • Harwich <-> Rotterdam or Hamburg

The regular procedure was:

  • get off the train/ferry
  • waiting in line in front of highten desk where an inspector sat
  • present passport and alien registration book, when a foreigner resident
  • pass by the desk to the customs area

It would have been difficult to get through without getting checked.

When leaving the residence permit was cancelled with a exit stamp, which was a triangle form.

On return a new residence permit was issued based on the previous one with an entry stamp in its present day form.

On the other side, with the exception of Hamburg, passports were stamped on entry.

The earliest UK enter/exit stamps that I have seen was 1928 on a US Passport.

It contained not only a day by day Journal of a 18 months tour around the world (UK, Ireland and Europe on a bicycle) , but also his 1928 Passport with all the visas.

For every country he travelled through a visa was needed and in the Journal he complained how expensive they were (he was on a very tight budget) .

Arriving from the US, through Liverpool he landed in Manchester.

As all other Empire stamps (Gibraltar, Port Said and India), the entry stamp was Oval.

The last of this type I have seen was 1958. The first present day, Rectangular, 1961.

The UK exit stamps were in this Passport and other 1930s Passports were of a triangle form which seemed to be in use until the exit controls ended.

From what I have read these controls started during WW1.


I remember in the 1960s early 70s living in Folkestone, you just went to the Post Office with ID and get a one day Passport for a day-trip to France

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