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Passports in hotel rooms or on person

My wife and I have a 10 day trip to Scotland and England, and were wondering if it's ok to leave passports in a hotel room safe (if the rooms have one), or the front desk safe. We'll still have drivers license as id on us. The problem with passports is the bulk in cargo pockets, or the need to guard a purse. In general, we find neck or under clothing travel wallets to be uncomfortable. What do you do when traveling in England?

Posted by
4866 posts

We travel overseas a lot. The UK is not too bad with pickpockets, especially compared to Barcelona, Rome and Paris.
However, we prefer to leave our passports in our hotel safe, if there is one in the room. When we visited Wales and England for 28 days in Oct 2017, we stayed mainly in B&Bs, and many didn't have safes.

When we have our passports on our person, I prefer to keep mine in a hip pocket that goes through my belt and is between my trousers and rear. It is pretty safe there.

Posted by
4365 posts

Leave it in the hotel safe (room or desk). There will be no requirement for you to carry your passport in England, in fact there is no requirement for you to carry any form of ID and there is no requirement for you to show proof of your identity to an official in the UK (other than a border agent). If you're stopped by the police they can ask you to provide photographic identification but you cannot be compelled to.

Posted by
1128 posts

I’ve always left mine at the hotel. If you’re visiting the Houses of Parliament, you might need it as ID there, you’d have to check the current security situation.

I don’t know your ages, but thankfully the UK doesn’t have the obsession with asking for ID from everyone for alcohol or tobacco. I’m well past 18 and have only been asked for ID once to enter a nightclub and they didn’t even look at it, just waived me in.

One trip I was with a 21 year old friend for a couple of days and he didn’t even get asked for ID at any of the bars and pubs we went to.

I think you’re fine leaving it at the hotel

Posted by
8236 posts

Do have at least a picture ID handy because I found in Scotland they wanted a picture ID with a credit card purchase (National Museum of Scotland gift shop!) and at least one other place. No problem using a CC in a restaurant, it was just the shops that wanted ID.

I'd definitely NOT carry anything of value in a cargo pocket.

I do use a money belt but it doesn't bother me. If I am on a RS tour I usually put the money belt in my day pack and leave it on the tour bus for days we are out and around, otherwise I have it on me or in my cross-body purse.

Posted by
3477 posts

We always have our passports on us in a money belt or a zippered shirt pocket. We're not paranoid. We feel perfectly safe while traveling abroad. We always hope for the best experience that can happen and it usually does. But unexpected things do happen on occasion that might prevent one from returning to the hotel. Demonstrations, medical problems, landslides, auto accidents, fires, earthquakes, and God forbid, terrorism. Having the passport with one is like insurance -- better to have it and not need it than the other way around. Somebody on the forum once summed it up quite nicely when they stated something to the effect that with a passport and credit cards they could handle anything that came up. Just our opinion.

Posted by
4365 posts

Do have at least a picture ID handy because I found in Scotland they wanted a picture ID with a credit card purchase (National Museum of Scotland gift shop!) and at least one other place. No problem using a CC in a restaurant, it was just the shops that wanted ID.

Did they provide a reason why they required picture ID with a credit card purchase? There's no law that permits shops to insist upon photographic ID. There are plenty of people in the UK who don't possess any form of photographic identification so it'd be interesting to know what those shops would do if you couldn't provide any (or refused to).

Posted by
2925 posts

However, I'm curious why you think any of those experiences would be
helped by having a passport. In the somewhat unlikely event that there
is a major earthquake that lays waste to Bath, do you think the fire
brigade will be checking passports before they dig you out?

If you stop and think about it, the PP was giving examples of situations where it might be impossible or very impractical to return to the hotel to retrieve their passport and then move on. If you have it with you, you can get the hell out of Dodge, or at least not have a difficult time retrieving it, should the need arise.

Posted by
4666 posts

Certain shops are now demanding a photo ID for credit cards without chip and PIN because they've had problems with fraud in the past. I wouldn't be surprised if this was true in a major tourist centre like Edinburgh. (This is a policy of the individual shops themselves, not a general rule.)

Posted by
8236 posts

"Did they provide a reason why they required picture ID with a credit card purchase? There's no law that permits shops to insist upon photographic ID. There are plenty of people in the UK who don't possess any form of photographic identification so it'd be interesting to know what those shops would do if you couldn't provide any (or refused to)."

No, it was an older lady who was running the till and just said it was policy at the museum. In fact, I did NOT have picture ID and wound up spending less money as I needed to pay with cash. The other time was in another gift shop but I don't remember where it was in Scotland. I DID have ID that time. I had no idea there was no law permitting shops to ask for ID. I'm occasionally asked for ID here at home when using a CC so it didn't seem totally unusual.

It is a chip and signature card.

Posted by
2925 posts

Sure, but can you give a realistic example of where this has ever been
necessary for a North American tourist in Britain?

Unfortunately, I can. An acquaintance of my DH had a stroke while out for the day in London. He not only had his passport with him, but had tucked a piece of paper in his wallet that listed his daily medications and allergies. His travel insurance info was also there. He never got back to the hotel. Ended up being repatriated back home, where fortunately he made an almost full recovery. That passport came in very handy, since it contained the emergency contact info for his NOK. She was able to fly over and help with his return home.

Posted by
4365 posts

No, it was an older lady who was running the till and just said it was policy at the museum. In fact, I did NOT have picture ID and wound up spending less money as I needed to pay with cash.

That's what I was wondering, whether the shops would be prepared to lose trade over strict adherence to store policy.

Posted by
8236 posts

JC, yes, she was prepared to and did lose business because of the inability for me to use a CC.

BTW, the gift shop there at the National Museum DOES have some lovely local hand crafts!

Posted by
623 posts

The situation that CJean described is why I have my passport with me when leaving my hotel. I'm lucky to have enjoyed good health while traveling, and to have not suffered serious accidents or injuries. But. If I become ill, or even just trip and fall causing injuries requiring medical care? Even if I'm conscious and able to talk, I'd be happy to have my passport with me to just confirm my identity to medical/emergency personnel, if nothing else. I usually grab a business card from my hotel's check-in desk and have it in my pocket as well.

(BTW my now favored way to carry my passport, backup credit/debit cards and any excess cash? Is a very stretchy little belt designed for runners. It's so comfortable I forget I'm wearing it (under my shirt, with the pocket in the small of my back). It's this one, but the featured product photo makes it look bulkier than it is in use: https://amzn.to/2JSUxIm Obviously, YMMV but I like this better than the traditional Eagle Creek/RS moneybelts that I've used in the past.)

Posted by
4527 posts

All retailers in the UK are obliged to accept chip and sig cards without any additional ID etc, both by the terms of their contract with visa/MC, but more importantly under the Equality Act 2010, as nearly all chip and sig cards in the UK are issued to people with dyscalculia or another disability that makes use of a PIN impossible for them.

Sadly there are shops around that do not comply with the law, although this is usually down to local staff ignorance rather than at a corporate level.

Posted by
277 posts

Was just in London in June, never carried my passport but did have my Drivers License; friends that I was with did the same, even used that DL to get discounted tix to the Tower of London and Churchill War Rooms.

I have a Cap One Debit card, and even though I have the PIN, etc., i also had to show my ID at least 2x, but I think it was actually 3x for purchase.

I did carry a copy of my passport w the DL in case anyone needs to dump me at the American Embassy.

Posted by
571 posts

Anyone who left their passport in their room at the Premier Inn at Cribbs Causeway near Bristol this week would have regretted their decision. The hotel burnt down, and all the rooms and their contents were lost. Fortunately, the fire started early afternoon, so there were few people in the building. The location means that it is mostly used by people working in the area, or on a journey. The ruins are now being demolished.

Just something else to worry about.

Posted by
168 posts

Just returned from England and I'd brought my Capital One card with me for purchases. The card was new and I hadn't signed the back...after numerous attempts both in England and back at home it seems the back is virtually unsignable! At least, I've not yet found a pen that will work on the slick surface of the card. Anyway, I was glad I had my passport with me as quite a few places wanted to see ID because of the unsigned card. Just a heads-up.

Posted by
2925 posts

Perhaps health care is different in north America. But I can assure
you that if you have a heart attack, bad fall or other medical
emergency in Britain, then nobody is going to care who you are or what
passport you hold (or left at the hotel). Not the paramedics, nor the
nurses, nor the surgeons. Eventually, once you're admitted, people
might start wondering who you are and whether you're entitled to free
care. But that's only in the distance, beyond any A&E, and even then
they won't throw you out of the hospital.

I'm rather shocked that some are worried that poor treatment might
happen without a passport or through an inability to pay. That's
simply not how civilised countries work.

I'm sorry, perhaps I missed a few posts. Who said that they were worried that they would be denied medical care or receive poor treatment? At some point the hospital is going to require proof of identity. If incapacitated, they (or perhaps the police) are going to need to contact the NOK. A North American DL doesn't have NOK info on it. A photocopy of the front page of your passport doesn't have it either.

I'm not sure why you feel the need to ridicule the precautions that others feel are prudent when travelling thousands of miles from home and family. Its simply insurance against unforseen circumstances. Or are you against insurance, too?

Posted by
3208 posts

We generally carry ours with us. If we’re in a location for a number of days, we may put them in the room safe.

Posted by
843 posts

I am primarily replying to let Terri from WA know that she can sign the back of her credit card (or rather any card of that type) with a fine point Sharpie and it will work very well. As for the to carry or not to carry question, I always carry my passport with me, but for no real good reason. I just like having it with me and the Eagle Creek hidden pocket (not money belt) I use is comfy enough for carrying them (there are four that need to be carried in our situation).

Posted by
3173 posts

I always carry my passport with me. It’s lighter than my change purse; it takes up no room. You never know when you might need it.

I leave nothing of value in the hotel room because I travel with nothing of value except for my wedding ring which I wear,

Posted by
17 posts

'.... doesn't have that "your papers, please" ID nonsense of the Europeans...' We ARE European thank you very much! 😤

Posted by
623 posts

Who said that they were worried that they would be denied medical care
or receive poor treatment? At some point the hospital is going to
require proof of identity. If incapacitated, they (or perhaps the
police) are going to need to contact the NOK. A North American DL
doesn't have NOK info on it. A photocopy of the front page of your
passport doesn't have it either.

Thanks for this, CJean. I certainly never expressed fears of being mistreated - or not helped - in case of illness or injury while in the UK. Our family includes first responders here in the US, so I have a bit of insight into this stuff, and I have confidence in the emergency and medical services in Britain.

My carrying a good form of identification is simply common sense in my opinion. And it may, in event of accident or illness, make things easier for emergency and medical responders, who won't have to burn time and effort figuring out who I am.

Back to the OP's question, it's perfectly OK to leave passports in your hotel if you don't think you'll need them. Personally I'd be more comfortable if they were in a room safe or a safe at the front desk. They will certainly be safer in the hotel than in a cargo pocket!

Posted by
1173 posts

Another place to store emergency contact and medical information is on your smartphone. Apple has a function that stores this information and makes it available from the the phone’s lock screen. Presumably there’s a similar app or function for Android based phones.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207021

Posted by
12322 posts

In London I usually 98% have the passport on me. If not, then it's in the room of the B&B. I don't put the passport in the safe. When out and about, it's on me. I don't wear cargo pants.

Posted by
2156 posts

I am of the mindset that I'd rather have it with me; that, along with my phone and credit cards/cash would be all that really mattered if something happened and I needed to GO without getting back to my room.

Posted by
15 posts

Neck wallet for passport, 1 backup Visa Card, ATM card, cash and 2nd room key card.

Posted by
92 posts

Six trips and have heard stories where Travelers wish they had their passport with them. If you do, use a secure location. We have always used RS money belt worn low on our back under our belts. Our money belt has passport, 500 cash and a hotel list. My wife and I each carry a different card. Apple Pay has become our preferred pay method.
Play safe and enjoy your trip don’t let fear hold you back.
Don

Posted by
1 posts

I certainly wouldn't leave my Passport at an hotel front desk
least safe place
I rather carry it with me so i know where it is

Posted by
361 posts

I have travelled all over Europe and my passport stays in my purse (cross body bag) in a zipped pocket inside. Never have had a problem.

Posted by
92 posts

Looks like the “take it with you”s win. Have checked out the RS video on your day pack.
Safe travels
Don

Posted by
618 posts

I am firmly in the camp of keeping your passport in a money belt on you. Only this summer, a friend of mine left items in a safe after checking out of a hotel. (she just simple forgot to check the safe when re-packing). Thank goodness she had put her passport in her money belt and not left it in that safe. It would have put our whole vacation plans in jeopardy and cost us a lot of money to put it all right. She was lucky the hotel was able to locate the items and mail them onto her. A lesson learned. So the moral of the story is, there are so many reasons to keep your passport on you at all times.

A stretching money belt people use for exercise is the one I find most comfortable to use.

Posted by
651 posts

Pam was your cc card signed?
Its been a problem for me in the past with chip and sign cards, that the card isnt actually signed. Weirdly alot of American card dont seem to be. So with out id i didnt know the card was theirs, as had no way of confirming the signature. When we got contactless this year, i asked the cc machine supplier and after long conversations with her colleges, she said to accept them like i would connactless e.g. not signature is ok up to £30, over that i need proof of signature.
Otherwise its like accepting a cc without a pin, which i cant do!

Posted by
9782 posts

I use a Hidden Pocket money belt. I hardly know it is on. In it I carry:

Passport
Passport Card
Global Entry Card
Credit Cards
Debit Cards
Transit passes (cards)
Other cards
Cash
Emergency contact information
Prescription Drug information

I never leave home without it. (Since I travel full time I really don't have a home.)

Why go everywhere with passport? My attitude is simple; with a passport and a credit card, I can get just about anywhere. Everything else can be replaced.

Posted by
6592 posts

I put it in the room safe. If there is no safe, I lock it in my luggage.