Passport Safety

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Apr 16th, 2006, 11:05 AM
  #1
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Passport Safety

I have a Fodor's book that says to give only a copy of your passport to the hotel, not the original (which suits me fine). Will hotels in Italy accept a copy?

Some travel guides say NEVER go anywhere without your passport (especially now, post 9/11); other books say leave it in the hotel room safe. What do you all do?
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Apr 16th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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The hotel is required to have your original passport to register you with the police. However, they don;t need to keep it - just ask for it back right away.

I always carry my passport with me - so if anything happens to it I'll know right away. (A friend of mine put his in his room safe - and it wasn't there a couple of days later when he went to check out.) But be sure it's secured - not in a back pack or fanny pack or something (I use a shoulder bad bandolier style so it's always in front of me.)

If you're comfortable with the hotel safe and they provide a receipt and guarantee you might also do that - but many smaller places don't have real safes.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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I do not entrust my passport, money, or ticket home to anyone. Except for the $100 or so in local currency I carry in my pants pocket, they are all in a belt that I wear inside my clothing.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 11:19 AM
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Someone once suggested scanning your passport and emailing it to yourself so you have access to a copy from anywhere. I have done that in preparation for my upcoming trip. You could also put the file on an SD card which goes into your camera
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Apr 16th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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It is correct that Italian hotels will need to make their own copy of your passport, and will return it to you.

Both my husband and I lock our passports and return tix and other valuables in the hotel safe. Having traveled extensively, we've never had anything taken from a hotel safe but we've both been robbed by street thieves while traveling abraod (we didn't have anything of value on us.) I've never heard of anyone who knows how to operate a hotel safe correctly losing their passport, and I think if even my passport got stolen, I'd rather be able to tell the police where to start looking than "I have no idea what happened to it. It was in my money belt, which I tuck into the small of my back (under my arm, etc). I didn't feel a thing.")

But people are pretty dogmatic about these kinds of things, so all you can do is read all the anecdotes and make your own call.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 11:50 AM
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Everyone finds their own method and comfort level for this question. I guarantee you won't find a consensus here on Fodor's (see many old threads on the topic).

I carry my passport with me, except for the times I give it to the hotel front desk at check-in, or the conductor on an overnight train that will cross borders.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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My comfort level will be to keep my passport with me whenever possible.

When the hotels take the passport, do they keep them for minutes, or for hours? Fodor's themselves say to give hotels only a copy, so I will at least try that first.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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My experience is limited to a few hotels, but they took them at check in, and returned them the next time they saw me walk by. I'm sure you could get it back sooner if you asked for it.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 12:42 PM
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I've spent roughly 800-900 nights in Europe in the past 10 years in more hotels than I care to think about. In most cases, the hotel (particularly in Italy) took the passport and I got it back later that day or sometimes the next morning. I guess I'm just not a worry-wart type of guy, but if something ever happens, I might become one. Call me Scarlett -- I'll think about that tomorrow.
 
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Apr 16th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Scarlett may change her mind when she wants to return home without a passport.

Do you give your cash and credit cards to the hotel overnight, too? If not, why give them your passport—it's worth a lot more than cash and credit cards.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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"...so all you can do is read all the anecdotes and make your own call..."

I disagree: that's not all you can do.

You can take responsibility for your stuff (although this may be an alien concept to many under-30s - no, I'm not even slightly interested in your way of handling it) and not delegate that responsibility to anyone else. There are ways of securing your valuables that protect them in any scenario short of armed robbery.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 08:32 PM
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Italy/Sicily are the two places that I have traveled that your passport is scrutinized before being returned to you. Yes, they have always wanted the original. They are very concerned about their new security policies in regards to how many are in the room?/how long are you staying?,etc.so be prepared to hand it over and possibly not get it back till the next morning.Hotels are required to check you in to the local police station.I always carry my passport in one of those ugly beige "under your shirt" stomach packs along with extra money,my extra ATM card and extra credit card.
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Apr 16th, 2006, 09:46 PM
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Italy (Rome so far for us) was the only time we were asked to leave our passports at the front desk. They gave them back about an hour later. Yes, we were concerned but then again we learned beforehand that that's the policy the hotels have.
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Apr 17th, 2006, 03:56 AM
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Not just Italy. Our passports were taken for police registration at every hotel where we stayed in Croatia. We got them back when we next passed the desk or in the morning. I have never had to leave a passport in France, though I always offer it as identification when checking in.

Losing a passport is not the end of the world. My wife's passport was stolen at Heathrow about ten years ago. I was at home in the US and was able to fax copies of important identifying documents to her (old passport, birth certificate,
etc.) Nowdays, we carry copies of these documents in our carry on bags.

She had a new passport from the American embassy next day. It would have been less convenient if she had not been staying in London.

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Apr 17th, 2006, 04:17 AM
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So how many documented cases are there of people leaving their passports with an Italian hotel staff over night and having it stolen there or having a major indentity theft situation as a result?
1000 out of every 100,0000? 100? 1? None?

Maybe I'll worry about that tomorrow if and when it happens to me, but meanwhile I feel that I can trust the Italian staff to take care of my passport overnight just as well or maybe better than locking it in a hotel safe (that any burglar can easily break into), or locked in a suitcase in my room (do I even have to explain how dumb this is?), or even carrying it with me at all times.

Hotels are in the business of protecting their clients. Sure accidents can and will happen. I have seen hundreds of reports of people being robbed or pickpocketed of their passports and just about as many where they have been stolen from their rooms. I have never seen in print someone saying the hotel stole their passport when they left it at the desk with a clerk over night. I hope I never reach the point in my travels when I have to say to a hotel clerk -- "I'm sorry, I don't trust you with this. I need it back right now."

Meanwhile I do have copies with me, and I do have quick access to get it replaced if the worst should happen.
 
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Apr 17th, 2006, 04:44 AM
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I agree with you on this point, FWIW
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Apr 17th, 2006, 05:05 AM
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How many documented cases are there of Italian hotels catching terrorists by keeping a passport overnight?
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Apr 17th, 2006, 05:54 AM
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There have been reports on this forum (as well as elsewhere) of passports being stolen from hotel safes.

On the other hand, state.gov recommends keeping them there and carrying a copy in countries where this is permitted. So take your pick.
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