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passports and hostels

I just have a question regarding passports and hotels/
hostels in Europe. I heard that in many places, you have to surrender
your passport to the reception desk? Is this true? I don't know if I feel comfortable doing this. Should I refuse to do this if asked or is this a common thing in Europe? If so, how long do they hold it for? If for example stay a week at a hostel, do they hold my passport for the whole week?

Posted by
805 posts

It is now EU law that all hotels register passport numbers/information for all non-EU guests. They will commonly make a photocopy of your passport to do this.

Some may also need to keep your passport temporarily in order to register you with the police. If so, ask if you can pick it up in a few hours, a request that is commonly accepted.

Posted by
423 posts

I was in Italy earlier this year and at each hotel, I gave them my passport when I arrived and all but one case, they noted the number and returned it to me before I left the reception area. The other hotel, held it for me until I requested it back (within an hour of arriving). It's a simple process and very painless. Each hotel registers you with the local police (and it is the law).

Posted by
21719 posts

Jeff, you don't get to write the rules. It is common in Europe. Sometimes they will keep it overnight. Not a big deal Don't make it one. In fifteen years of travel, never had a problem. During a recent ten day cruise out of Rome, the cruise ship kept the passport for the whole ten days.

Posted by
55 posts

just got back from a month in spain and portugal. at every place they ask for one passport, some asked for both of ours. they never kept them for more than 10 minutes. very safe and common!

Posted by
251 posts

I used to be uncomfortable doing this, but then I realized that if you are uncomfortable with where you are staying then probably not be staying there.

Then I realized that hey, if they have it, then I can't misplace it, or loose it, or get it stolen. So now I don't mind. (I however find this practice rarer these days as well just choosing a hotel that is a little nicer.)

Keep in mind that freedom is approached differently in many places in Europe. Many countries take a much more aggresive approach to protecting their citizens, though it can be easy to argue with the tactics, it is usually done in the spirit of keeping you safe, not harming you.

Posted by
191 posts

I did experience this in Europe last year while staying in hostels. As Rick recommends in his book if you feel uncomfortable leaving you passport with someone just say you need it to cash travelers cheques. In almost all the places I stayed they took my passport and either copied the info. or made a copy from a printer, and I was given my passport right back. I think its a legitate feeling to feel uncomfortable in leaving your passport with a stranger. During an overnight train from Paris to Venice, they come and collected passports before eveyone goes to bed because you go through customs at like 2am, luckly I read about this in Rick's book and it was totally safe I was given my passport back the next morning.

I think if you feel uncomfortable don't do it or have a look at what other travelers around you are doing.

Posted by
7205 posts

While staying at Pensione Accademia in Venice, we returned a few hours later to retrieve our passport and were given passports that weren't ours. I almost had a panic attack thinking if they gave me someone elses passport then who's walking around with MY passport???

Luckily they still had ours, but be sure to CHECK your passport after it is returned...always verify that it's yours!

Posted by
658 posts

Hotels in a lot of countries have to register your passport in order to comply with local tourism taxes. In small hotels this is often done by the night porter. He/she fills in the paperwork in the early hours while the hotel is quiet and the passports are returned to you at breakfast.

In all honesty, hotels have the right to verify that hotel guests are bone fide and do not have a police history of trashing rooms, stealing property and skipping off without paying the bill. Sadly, this does happen, not often but it does happen.

Posted by
35 posts

Jeff, when my wife and I travel overseas, we each have a photocopy of the other's passport with us.

When we get to the hotel desk, we show them our passports, along with the photocopies....showing them that they are identical.

We then say we need our passports for identification purposes [such as cashing traveler's cheques, etc], and politely ask if we can just leave the photocopies for them to copy down what they need.

In five trips to Europe with my wife, this method has worked every time except two hotels on the same trip.

Posted by
50 posts

It's common. Some will just copy the passport and others will store it. This can be convenient if you trust them and they are a credible place. You don't have to worry about losing your most precious item abroad.