hotel desk

In many parts of the world it’s not uncommon for your hotel to request your passport when checking in for record keeping purposes. But while this may be common practice, is it safe?

We’ve taken a broad look at the act of handing a passport over to hotels when travelling internationally. Why do they do this, what are the risks and is it necessary for you to comply?

Why do they do this?

In many countries it’s actually a legal requirement for hotels and accommodation to provide a record of any international traveller staying at their premises. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972 states that, “All hotels, must keep a record of the full name and nationality of guests over 16 years of age. Aliens must also record the number and place of issue of their passport, their nationality and their next destination. Records of this information must be kept for at least 12 months and be available for inspection by any police officer.”

Many hotels requesting your passport are probably doing so for their record keeping purposes as much as anything else, as a means of ensuring your details are kept safe on hand.

What are the risks?

Well, in a perfect world there wouldn’t be any risks and we could count on every hotel operating scrupulously, but as we all know this isn’t a perfect world. The loss of passports can lead to a variety of unfortunate circumstances including the changing of travel plans and even in some cases identify theft. Plus, if you’re out exploring a foreign country and you don’t have a passport handy you could be in a bit of trouble if you get confronted by police and are required to provide identification.

Do I need to comply?

Well, just because a hotel need your passport details for record keeping purposes, doesn’t mean they have to hold onto your actual passport. It also might be an idea, if asked by a hotel to hand over your passport for the duration of your travel, to approach their management to explore whether the company can make other options available to you, such as providing a copy or scan of your passport, in lieu of physically holding the passport.

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