why do hotels need your passport

Why Do Hotels Need Your Passport?

It may seem odd that hotels ask you to present your passport before checking in, and you may wonder why do hotels need your passport? 

But there are some good reasons behind this policy. It’s not just an excuse to collect your personal information or invade your privacy! Instead, it’s an effort to protect you from identity theft, which can cost both you and the hotel significant time and money in the long run if it goes unchecked. 

From this blog post, you will be able to learn more about the reasons why hotels require your passport here.

Table of Contents

The reason behind hotels requiring your passport

As I have mentioned earlier, though the process may be disturbing for you at first, there are some valid reasons behind it. 

Without any further delay, let’s get to know about those reasons that may you need to know.

The first reason: identity theft

We’ve all heard horror stories about identity theft, but did you know that it’s a serious issue for hotel chains as well? 

Hotels regularly have to deal with credit card fraud, and often find that names of guests on reservations don’t match up with passports or driver’s licenses. 

As a result, they ask to see identification documents before giving you keys to your room. If someone steals your ID and goes on a luxury vacation without paying, there will be two victims, you for having your ID stolen and whoever takes the bill at checkout. 

When making reservations in another person’s name is just as easy as checking into a hotel under their name, it takes only one dishonest guest to cause chaos for everyone else at check-in time.

The second reason: security measures

The next reason is a security measure, as personal details like names and addresses are much easier to keep track of when a guest checks in with an ID. This can be especially helpful if you’re managing multiple properties or working with several staff members. 

Having an address and name of each guest makes it easy to see who checked in when, which can help prevent problems like a missing check-out bill or double occupancy fees for those who sneak friends into their room. 

Again, these precautions are intended to make everything smoother on both ends. 

The third reason: saving you from liability

Finally, requiring passports from every guest may not seem particularly strict, but by doing so you can protect yourself from liability should anything go wrong during someone else’s stay at the hotel. 

For example, if someone has their wallet stolen while they’re staying with you, they could sue you for negligence if there isn’t a way to prove that they were staying at your property.

Having information about guests readily available ensures that whoever stays with you will have some legal protection in case of any trouble while under your roof. 

Any time you ask guests for identification documents, there’s a chance that some people might get upset.

The fourth reason: they don’t really trust you

The hotel staff must always verify that you are who you say you are and that you actually have a reservation. 

With your passport in hand, they can run a quick check against their records to confirm your identity as it should be.

Having documents ready when checking into a hotel isn’t required, but doing so will speed up what can otherwise be a time-consuming process. 

If anything does go out of place, though, or if something about your passport seems odd or looks fake, things could easily escalate into an uncomfortable situation for both you and any other guests staying at the same location.

Keep in mind that there are a handful of countries whose citizens aren’t allowed to enter certain countries with only a copy of their passport. In such cases, you’ll also have to present a physical copy of your passport. 

Don’t forget, if for some reason you lose your actual document, whether it gets stolen or somehow accidentally destroyed, there may be official processes that require travelers to get special copies made before flying.

The fifth reason: you won’t be able to stay in the hotel

Most people aren’t aware of these, but some if not all countries require your identification and proof of citizenship to be with you at all times. 

If a hotel staff member asks for it, most likely he’s not trying to sell it on eBay, but rather complying with government regulations. 

Before booking a room, check if it’s needed in that particular country. You can also just leave them in your safe deposit box or hand them over when you arrive. 

Many front desk employees will hold them for you throughout your stay. For example, American citizens must present their passports upon arrival in Nigeria. Failure to comply will mean deportation from the country.

So let that be a lesson. Don’t go on vacation without your ID! 

The sixth reason: for ensuring safety during your stay

When you’re traveling, there are some reasons to hand over your passport. The most important one is to show that you’re a guest at a certain hotel and to provide proof of identity. When you check in, some resorts may take a photo of you for security purposes; if you’re staying in an all-inclusive resort, they may ask for it at checkout, so they can bill you correctly. 

Plus, when you’re checking out and waiting on taxis, bus tickets, or boat transfers, handing over your passport helps prove who you are if there’s ever any confusion. However, these aren’t always 100% necessary, especially if you’re staying in one place for multiple days, so don’t panic just yet! 

It’s worth doing a little research beforehand to find out what rules apply at each hotel. If you want to keep your information secure while booking accommodation while abroad, create a separate email account specifically for trip planning. 

That way, only people with access to that email address will be able to communicate with you about accommodations and flights, which will make your contact list much more secure than using Gmail or Yahoo!. 

What if I don’t want to give my passport at all?

So you’re planning to take a trip, or already on your own, and you want to stay in a hotel. The hotel will require that you provide some sort of photo identification, and it doesn’t have to be a government-issued ID.

It just has to be an ID that shows what your name is, along with some indication of who you are. Sometimes these IDs contain other information as well, such as an address, birthdate, or even a signature. 

Why would they care about something like that? What good is my passport information going to do them? These are good questions for which there are perfectly valid answers. 

The answer to why hotels ask for your passport boils down to two things, as I have already mentioned safety and liability protection.

What if you don’t have the passport with you

If you’re not carrying around your passport for some reason, you should be able to provide a copy of it or another form of identification to prove who you are.

It’s better to have that with you than not have it at all, because a hotel will still check to make sure someone can actually check into their room before letting them in. 

Sometimes they might ask for a credit card instead. For example, many Four Seasons properties require a photo ID and a valid Visa or MasterCard, if you arrive without one or both of these items, they may request a deposit from your bank account as a backup. 

This can sometimes take time to process, so come prepared by bringing along your passport and/or credit card information with you on your trip. 

Is your personal information secure when you share it with a hotel?

Hotel employees need to know who you are in order to complete a credit card authorization form. A copy of your passport is sufficient for them, and it is secure with them. 

If you don’t feel comfortable handing over a copy of your passport, then use a second form of identification like a driver’s license instead. It’s still a good idea to keep an extra copy at home though, so that way if one of your personal documents gets lost or stolen, you will have another option available. 

When asking for a room at the hotel front desk, let them know that you want to check in without providing identification. The policy varies from establishment to establishment, but most will allow you to hand over just a photo ID, rather than both photo ID and proof of identity. 

On occasion, you may be asked for documentation even when using just your ID, but not often.

This does depend on what country you are traveling in as well as where in that country you are staying, however. In addition, if using just your driver’s license as proof of identity, some establishments require that it is current within 12 months to be specific not expired.

Can these systems be hacked or data stolen by criminals or hackers

Absolutely. Even large, well-known chains can be victimized by hackers and cybercriminals who get hold of credit card numbers. 

While they might not have access to actual names, they could steal details like dates of birth and addresses that are enough to steal an identity. 

Criminals use data breaches to make fraudulent transactions, open credit cards in other people’s names or run other scams. 

Because they do their dirty work in cyberspace, these crimes often go unnoticed for a long time. By then it’s too late, by all accounts there is no way to delete information from databases once it has been uploaded.  

Even anonymized records are vulnerable if someone with sufficient computer skills decides to dig through them. 

If you want complete protection from those kinds of dangers, you might consider forgoing a hotel room altogether. You should also keep a close eye on any statements you receive after traveling, as well as watch out for odd charges on your monthly statement. A little vigilance now can save you later!

How to prevent this from happening where your identity could be at stake

Book hotels through official hotel sites or major online travel agencies. If you’re able to book directly, you can more easily dispute charges if something goes wrong. 

Be cautious when booking rooms through third-party booking services like Expedia and Priceline or TripAdvisor, which aren’t required to follow lodging laws as stringently as official hotel sites. 

While it’s not a given that you’ll have to give over your personal information, be aware of any potential red flags before booking with a third party. 

You don’t want to find yourself in trouble overseas without recourse due to surprise fees, hidden terms, or other unanticipated issues. Another way you can protect yourself is by checking on each business’s rating with organizations such as Yelp!, TrustLink, Trustpilot, and Better Business Bureau (BBB). 

You should also make sure each business has an emergency contact number listed, so you can easily reach someone in case of an emergency at all times during your stay. 

Tips for protecting privacy while staying at hotels

Don’t just leave your passport at the reception! While it’s easier to give it to someone, what happens if they lose it or there is a security breach? 

Some travelers opt for a photocopy of their passport but that might not be enough. You should always carry extra identification. Your driver’s license can double as a backup form of ID. 

Make sure you know where it is and bring a copy in case you lose your wallet or purse. If carrying one more thing stresses you out too much, consider purchasing an emergency credit card. These have all of your important information including emergency cash stored on a card, so you don’t have to worry about losing any personal documents while traveling. 

To keep others from making purchases with your account

Put a fraud alert on your credit reports. Next, follow up by requesting that each credit report and bank place a fraud alert on your account(s). 

This will keep anyone from making additional charges without getting permission first, and they’ll still need to contact you before doing so. 

To protect your identity and financial standing 

Call one of three major credit bureaus right away to ensure that you are listed correctly in their files. Do not wait until after a theft has occurred. 

Credit monitoring services are available to help prevent such theft after it occurs, but they won’t help fix things if someone has already taken advantage of your situation. 

To prevent new accounts from being opened in your name

Freeze your credit reports with all the agencies. For a small fee, lockdown access to your report, so no new lines of credit can be opened under your name without express permission. 

Even if thieves attempt to open a new account using your info, it will appear as though you never had that account in the first place. Since only active businesses show up on most people’s credit reports, which isn’t true of Google searches, bad actors searching online may find non-existent businesses associated with you and use those instead. 

To stop harassment over a debt you didn’t cause

File disputes immediately with your lender, collection agency, or third party reporting company if you believe erroneous debts have been added to your record. 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers 60 days to contest errors, use that time wisely, and seek assistance if needed. 

To put a stop to unwanted telemarketing calls

Register your phone number with either Do Not Call, Inc. (www.donotcall.gov/) or the National Do Not Call Registry, created by Congress and administered by both federal and state governments. 

Both national registers allow you to register both cell phones and landlines, and permit you to receive free do-not-call email alerts when companies you’ve registered with violate these laws. 

To avoid a lawsuit if you accidentally share something you shouldn’t have

Draft a letter to your coworker, client, or whoever it was that received your confidential information explaining that they must keep it private and secure. 

Make sure they understand how serious of a matter it is to share other people’s data and the legal ramifications that could occur as a result. Ask them to delete all copies of sensitive data and let you know in writing that they have done so. 

To have your stolen items returned to you

Report lost or stolen items to law enforcement and your insurance provider as soon as possible. Be sure to get a police report and file a claim with your insurance provider if you have one. 

To help prevent fraud

Before applying for new credit, check each of your credit reports at least once a year, so you can identify unauthorized applications or fraudulent activity sooner than later.

What if you lose your passport in the hotel

If you lose your passport, don’t panic. Travelers aren’t required to turn in their travel documents when they check into a hotel. 

In fact, hotels are responsible for safeguarding passports and other vital documents. Most hotels, however, require that you show an ID and provide a photocopy of your passport before checking in. 

The front desk staff also reserves a copy of each guest’s passport for verification purposes. Hotels keep copies of guests’ passports stored on file, in case there is any doubt about who is staying at their facility. 

Some locations also do background checks on new arrivals as part of security protocol, especially if they suspect criminal activity or unusual movements at the facility. They will make those details available to local authorities if necessary. 

What if your passport is stolen from my hotel room

If you realize that your personal documents were stolen from your hotel room during a recent trip, it’s important to report the incident immediately. 

Do not leave without contacting the front desk. It is a good idea to contact both your embassy and credit card companies immediately. This way they can cancel all cards you may have left behind, but be sure to take detailed notes about what was taken, including expiration dates. 

A police report can be filed with local law enforcement within 48 hours of discovering such losses in order to help hasten replacement processes.

Which option should you choose while booking a hotel room online

One that asks for your credit card info, or one that asks for a copy of your passport and visa? 

Believe it or not, that question has led to a major debate among travel bloggers. As with many things in life, there are pros and cons to each option. On one hand, passports are important documents, so handing over a copy of yours could be problematic.

On the other hand, giving up a copy of your credit card is just asking for trouble. But which should you choose? 

Let’s look at both options more closely. There are lots of ways scammers can make off with your money, but I’ve never heard anyone claim they were conned when their identity was stolen at a hotel; in fact, fraudulent activity related to hotels tends to happen through issues like overbooking rooms and double charging for meals. 

All these situations require legitimate identification from customers as well as proof of payment, the very information hotel guests give when they hand over their passport upon check-in. 

So while we have some reason to worry about our credit cards, handing over our passports doesn’t seem too risky. 

After all, if someone somehow got hold of your passport while you slept, you wouldn’t get much use out of it since no country would accept an unexpired foreign passport as ID on its own. 

It turns out that European hoteliers actually prefer guest registries containing photocopies of people’s passports. 

But here in America, it seems my experience isn’t unique: U.S.-based hotels don’t normally request copies of people’s passports unless asked to by clients or state law requires them to do so. This makes sense because most hotels ask for a form of photo ID anyway, including driver’s licenses and hotel room keys! 

In short, whether you live in Europe or North America, sending a photocopy of your passport along with your online booking will probably just help ensure smoother sailing during check-in and won’t expose you to any unnecessary risk. And besides, copying a few pages isn’t going to significantly affect your ability to pick up something new whenever you want!

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is it normal for the hotel to ask for a passport?

It is very common practice for the hotels to ask for your original passport and then keeping a photocopy of it to verify your identity.

Why do hotels take passport details?

Hotels take passport details mostly because they want to keep track of who is staying in the hotel at a given time and to be assured regarding the recorded identity of the visitor.


By now, I am sure you have found the answer to why do hotels need your passport? In an ideal world, you could come and go from any hotel as you please. 

However, in most cities around the world, there are laws that require hotels to record their guests’ personal information. Without a guest’s passport number, a hotel won’t let that person check-in. In addition to containing vital identifying information such as your name and date of birth, a passport is also considered a physical proof of identity.

If a thief gets hold of your passport, they can use it to assume your identity and commit fraud. The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is by staying watchful about keeping your travel documents safe at all times.

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