Officially, Amtrak requires a government issued ID to ride any train. In practice though, what usually happens is a much different story.
Amtrak does not check ID for each passenger boarding the train, but instead does a spot check by the conductor either as you board or they check your tickets. Think of it like getting on a subway in a big city, but then with someone coming through the car to check your ticket.
In many years of riding Amtrak, we’ve had our ticket checked on every ride, but never had our ID checked. In fact, we’ve never even seen anyone have their ID checked. We have however heard of other passengers who had their ID checked and were kicked off the train for not having proper ID.
To be safe, when you board Amtrak you’ll want to have an accepted form of identification, which includes a drivers license or a passport. Other ID’s that will work include a Student ID, Military ID, Job Core ID or other government issued ID.
In our experience you are less likely to have your ID checked in Sleeper Cars then in Coach. When you board a sleeper car you’ll need to give the attendant your name, and they’ll check it against their list to see if you are supposed to be on that car. If your name isn’t on the list you’ll be turned away.
What About Going Into Canada
If you are traveling into Canada, you will need to bring your passport.
Should You Try To Board Amtrak Without ID
While it is possible to get away with boarding an Amtrak train without an ID, you are taking a big risk by doing so. It would likely be easier to just get your ID then deal with being removed from a train and having to rebook your trip on another day. Since the ID’s allowed for riding a train are more broad than riding an airplane, it is something that is easily obtained.
Does Amtrak Check ID: Final Thoughts
Amtrak has been doing this longer than you’ve been trying to get on a train without ID. If you are trying to get on an Amtrak train without ID, it is likely they’ll figure it out, as we’ve heard that happening to several people. Just because they don’t check everyone’s ID, doesn’t mean they won’t check yours. If you are on an important trip, take the time to get an ID before you go so you won’t have any problems.