Currency Questions

Old Jan 11th, 2000, 07:35 PM
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Currency Questions

When traveling to Italy do most people use travelers' checks? I called American Express and they informed me that they do not issue travelers' checks for the Lire. Does anyone have any information regarding travelers' checks?

In addition, I was told that upon check-in at most hotels in Italy you need to register with the Italian police. One reference said that the hotel will take your passport and hold it for several hours while they register you with the police. Is this a typical policy or should we hold onto our passports ourselves?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Old Jan 11th, 2000, 07:42 PM
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Jenn, you really don't need Traveler's Checks. This topic is always up for discussion on this forum. Try a search and you'll get LOTS of opinions. We never had a hotel take our passports in Italy.
Old Jan 11th, 2000, 08:24 PM
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I can tell you of one experience that contradicts your "I've never had"... experience.

At Nyala Suite Hotel in San Remo Italy, we were asked to leave all our passports - - "Just go ahead to dinner" we were told, and we will have everything registered when you are done and you can have them back.

Well, it was true, they were done with them, and they were in the mail slot where room keys are held, as well as a whole lot of other passports from other travelers - - and the front desk was TOTALLY unattended. The mail slots were barely one arm's length away from the counter - - and the space behind was not enclosed in any way.

I didn't make a fuss about (once I found a front desk clerk) - - and I'm not the kind of guy to get paranoid about these things, but it did occur to me that the black market could have had 20 or more passports that night.
Old Jan 12th, 2000, 05:19 AM
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I suspect most people depend on ATMs as much as possible. Some TCs are a good idea as backup, though, as ATMs don't always work, at least in our experience. You'll find extenisve help on handling money on your trip to Europe at

Brief retention of your passport by the hotel is routine.

Dayle's comment is interesting. We've never _not_ had passports taken by the hotel on a visit to Italy. Italian law requires aliens (us) to register with the police. In most cases (all, in our experience) the hotel takes care of the registration for you by taking your passport at check-in. It's usually returned within a couple of hours.

Old Jan 12th, 2000, 05:22 AM
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I think you'll find the consensus on this board that you don't need travelers checks these days. I usually carry one or two, but the rest of the time I use my ATM card and credit card.

Re: the passport thingy. Putting it in the mailboxes is normal procedure many places. When we were in Skopje last summer teaching at a summer school they held the students' passports to make sure they paid the extras on their bills. The desk was usually covered, but I am sure there were moments when it wasn't. There were no problems. Our Macedonian "daughter" managed to get ours back - playing the American card I think! I am loathe to be parted from mine, although I always carry a couple of photocopies stashed here and there. If I trust the hotel I'll put it in the safe deposit box, but usually it is safe under my clothes with anything else of interest to a theif
Old Jan 12th, 2000, 06:08 AM
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There's a good reason why most people use ATMs these days: You get the best exchange rate! As others have said, take a few travelers checks, "just in case." If you do take credit cards, don't go to one of the "change" places. The exchange rate is low, once they take their percentage (we heard it can be as high as 9%).We too a couple hundred $ worth and never used one. ATMs and credit cards all the way.
As for hotels taking your passports, again as stated above, that's standard. Not to worry!
Old Jan 12th, 2000, 07:46 AM
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Ooops, correction on my last posting. Obviously, the sentence that starts, "If you do take credit cards..." should should say, "If you do take travelers checks...." Sorry!
Old Jan 12th, 2000, 05:19 PM
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Thank you everyone for your help. I think we'll take a few travelers' checks to be on the safe side.

Also, thank you for your responses regarding the police registration process at the hotel. I feel better knowing that giving my passport to the hotel is a common practice.

Thanks again everyone!
Old Jan 13th, 2000, 11:45 AM
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Jenn, I traveled to Otaly for the first time in Oct/Nov '99 with a person that had been there twice before. When she was there, hotels never asked for her passport but during our stay (all thru Tuscany/Umbria-a different hotel every night for about 12 days) EVERYONE asked for our passports, and held them until we came back down to the desk and asked for them. This really freaked her out at first, but since they all did it we figured it was some newly enforced policy. Just don't forget to get it back before you walk out the door to sight-see, go the bank or go home!

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