Helpline Question of the Month: When to Carry my Passport?
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The "official" rules regarding documents don't always reflect the daily realities of travel. Looking forward to taking her first trip to Europe, Teresa decided to ask more experienced travelers about the ins and outs of carrying a passport.
Tag along on Teresa's journey through our Travelers Helpline...
Newbie here...never had a passport before. Do I need to carry my original passport on me at all times when in Rome? Or can I leave it in a safe at the hotel and just carry a photo copy? TIA
Always carry it in your hidden pouch and made a few extra copies. Have a great trip!
You do not need to carry it with you. Nothing wrong with keeping it in hotel safe.
Technically, under Italian law, you are required to carry official identification with you. That is your passport. (A U.S. drivers license is not considered official in other countries.) That being said, I've never heard of anyone getting into trouble for not having it. (Your hotel will need it when you first check in to register you with the police so don't get nervous if they hold your passport for awhile.) I would suggest making photocopies and having them with you just in case...I personally always carry my passport in my moneybelt. A couple of reasons — 1) This way I don't forget it. 2) In case of emergency, I have official documentation with me.
The primary purpose of the photo copy is not to use as an alternate ID but to use for getting a replacement if lost or stolen. Personally I think advice to NOT carry your passport is a poor because the passport is only thing that proves who you are and that you are legally in the country. But will admit that I have only had to unexpectedly produce the passport on two occasions in 18 years and nearly 300 days of travel. Glad I had it both times. And do not be surprised if a hotel wants to keep your passport for awhile. In the past they routinely keep them over night but now it is only an hour or two.
Port Coquitlam, BC
We keep our passports on us (in moneybelts) when venturing out on day trips far and wide, and locked in the safe at the hotel when we will be staying near by.
FYI, your hotel will ask for your passport to "register" you. This could be done quickly, or they will hold on to it for a few hours. We've left our passport with the front desk at the hotel and gone out without it. That being said, it's a good idea to keep your passport with you — in a moneybelt — at all times.
It's "a good idea to keep it with you" for reasons of security and for peace of mind. That said, we left our passports in hotel safes, and even buried in our locked bags most days, except when we were traveling. I guess it only takes losing it once to think that you should always keep it with you, but I find that some days I just don't want to mess around with the moneybelt.
Rule of thumb, keep it with you in a secure place, but make legible color photocopies as backup in case you need an emergency replacement. The U.S. Embassy can get you a replacement quicker if they have all the information that it contains.
I'm like Frank II. I keep it with me almost all the time because it's my only valid ID. The few exceptions are where I might have to leave it in an unsecure place, for example swimming at the beach. How often do you get asked for your driver's license at home? That's about how often you will be asked for your passport in Europe. Many people leave theirs somewhere they consider safe and don't have problems. A photocopy helps get a replacement if you lose your passport, but it isn't any more valid than a copy would be if you were asked to produce your driver's license at home.
Not sure of your age, but if you're 26 and younger, your passport can prove your age and get you discounts at major sites. I have also shown my passport (for age) and student ID and received discounts. Cheers!
Lauren I'm old enough to be your mom! LOL Thanks for your comment. I will keep my passport with me at all times now, thanks to all of you here.
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