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Carrying a passport?

We are leaving for Italy in 2 weeks. Thank you to all who have posted here for helping us figure out our trip! I have a question though.... Do we need to keep our passport on our person when we are out and about? In other countries we have travelled in we locked them in the safe in our room. If we need the passport info, is it OK to just have our passport copies with us?

Posted by
104 posts

No. Yes. No you do not need to carry your passport just Walking around. However, you might need it for certain transactions, like if you were to cash a travelers check. I don't even carry a copy most of the time in Italy, as long as I am in the city where my passport is in the hotel. I use either ATM or credit cards. Safer to leave it at hotel.

Posted by
4152 posts

Legally you are supposed to have a form of I.D. with you at all times and a passport is the most easily recognized and asked for. I usually just carry my drivers license and a copy of my passport. I have never been asked for either but if I am, I will have them. I would not just carry around a copy as that is not a legal document and probably wouldn't pass muster. Leave the passports in the safe, carry a copy and another form of I.D. and you should be fine. Donna

Posted by
116 posts

I just wTched a video on YouTube about many of the hotel safes defaulting to a certain combo. Check and make sure yours doesn't - I think it was something like "11111" ...

Posted by
166 posts

No, you should leave it in the room safe in the hotel (or equivalent). I am baffled by the folks that feel they need to carry it with them at all times. There are some situations when you'll need it -- e.g. when looking to get sales tax back on a purchase in a store. Outside of these limited situations, there is no need to carry it. I typically carry a couple of credit cards, some cash and a driver's license (when we have a rental car). Everything else is back at home base.

Posted by
20686 posts

The nothing baffling at all as to why I carry my passport all the time. It is the only thing that proves you are legally in the country. Second, if something happens, no matter how remote, I have it. Remember recent earthquake in Italy that leveled hotels, etc. In the past 18 years we have been stopped three times for passport checks. I am sure the police would have been impressed with a copy even in color. I am always baffled why you don't carry it. But then we don't use hotel safes either.

Posted by
11436 posts

Frank, you didn't indicate at all why you were stopped, so i questioned, you answered,, not a big deal. I have travelled alot more then 18 yrs and have never been stopped so perhaps it has more to do with where exactly one is, in what circumstances , in which country, and frankly also maybe some profiling( seems they are looking for illegal immigrants). I have only been to Italy 3 times ,so that may be another issue, but as you cited you were not stopped in Italy three times either but also in Turkey,, which over the years has definately had some struggles and unrest,, a situation that could make passport check more of an issue. I know in France i have spent months at a time, and when I was younger i stayed often with family and friends and never once was it indicated to me to carry my passport with me anywhere, it sat on my bedside table drawer mostly. I don't know , perhaps my family and all friends were all counselling me to behave illegally ,but they certainly did not see it as neccesary and i went along with custom. I think if one rents a car and is driving one should probaly keep passport with them as anything could happen, road blocks, or you could be in an accident and police would want passport. I don't fit in that situation.

Posted by
11436 posts

Frank,, police just stopped you randomly and asked to see your id,, hmm, never has happened to me,, wonder,, do you look like a crimminal or something,, seems so unusual,, you are the first poster on this forum and others I go on that has ever said they have been personally stopped and ided,, and not once but THREE times. On other subject of safes, the preset factory code is apparently 0000,, hotels are supposed to reset with their own code, but apparently some have not been doing that,, so anyone who puts 0000 in can open safe, simple solution is to test safe when you check in, put nothing in it, push 0000 and see if that opens it after you close it.

Posted by
653 posts

I agree with Frank. And I've been asked to show ID as well, a couple of times. The more time you spend in Italy, the more likely you are to be asked to show ID - just mathematical odds. Heightened security alerts could be one reason. I also never use the hotel safe for my passport.

Posted by
684 posts

I take my chances, and carry only a copy of my family of (4) passports on a single sheet of paper. Four passports are too bulky. We were in Italy for a month in July and never needed to present them.

Posted by
791 posts

Have never been stopped for a check just walking around. Have been stopped at checkpoints several times while driving. Better have that and your IDP if you're driving around.

Posted by
20686 posts

Pat, read what I posted. I didn't indicate it was personal, random, street stop. That has never happen. And being checked three time in nearly a year of total travel over 18 years is not frequent. We were at the World Cup in Paris in 98 coming out of a large metro station and suddenly there was a rush of police, lots of whistles and our way was blocked by a couple dozen police and forced through three or four check points. Asked to see ID, checked the first page, and glanced at the stamps in back and politely let us pass. Have no idea what was happening but did notice that a small group, mostly young males, were being pushed to a holding area. Another time in Turkey with a private guide and vehicle, rounded a corner and there was a roadblock. Not so friendly this time. Even the tour guide acted surprised to see them. Another time on a bus on a express road was pulled over and police come on as asked for id. They did remove one person and we went on our way. So do not suggest that it cannot happen and if it does happen it is not a big deal. For us it has always been, as with many things, always better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. A photocopy of your passport is not legal id anywhere. The ONLY reason for a photocopy is to prove you had a passport to the US embassy/consult when trying to replace it.

Posted by
8716 posts

You asked about Italy specifically and I will give you the answer specifically for Italy. By law, all foreigners must carry their passport with them at all times. That's the law! Whether or not anyone is going to make a big deal about it if you don't...who knows. Just ask the thousands of cruise passengers who disembark all over Italy every day and don't have their passports on them. Don't forget, in most places in the U.S., you must drive 65 mph or less to obey the law. Yet how many people go faster? I carry my passport and credit card with me in a moneybelt at all times. I figure with a passport and credit card, I can get anywhere in case of an emergency. If it's back at my hotel, I'm stuck.

Posted by
109 posts

Without trying to enter the fray too much, I will say that I've been asked for ID before as well, in France, the Czech Republic, and Italy. It's all about the luck of the draw and what the security measures are like. Twice were customs inspections at the border crossing, and the third was due to staying at a hotel next to a Sports stadium and thus were just in the right area, where they were stopping everyone. We carry our passports with us, except in Ireland (where it's not required) and Germany (where we are residents). Usually one of us has the money belt with the passports and spare credit card and the other has the money. It eliminates the possibility of a passport getting lost when you're trying to get out money.

Posted by
11436 posts

Rachel i would hardly count the two instances at border crossing,, even people like me who do not carry their passports SIGHTSEEING are not stupid enough not to TRAVEL without it. That seems very very obvious. Also Rachel do you actually assess your moneybelt for money while out and about?

Posted by
582 posts

Wow, My hotel in Milan shouldn't make their guests leave their passport with them at the front desk for the first 24 hours since it's the law in Italy to have the passport on us at all times! When it was returned to me I put it in my moneybelt. I've never been stopped either. I imagine that would be very rare.

Posted by
8716 posts

Lisa, you've found the conundrum. By law, all visitors must register with the police within three days of entering Italy. You leave your passport at your hotel because the hotel does it for you. If you want your passport back earlier, just ask. Most hotels will oblige.

Posted by
2822 posts

What I usually do is to let a "lesser" ID with the hotel, like a driver's license when I'm not driving that day - usually an expired one. As for passports: citizens not from EU are obliged to carry them (the former can substitute a national ID for that). Most of the time, you will not be asked for it. Most people will never be asked for it. But some will, and when they do, that can be a hassle. It's more or less the discussion of IDP (International Driver's Permit)... most car rental agencies will never look at it. Rarely will you be questioned by highway police. If you get involved in an accident, lack of one might get you in financial trouble, fines, problems with insurance etc. Might. Passport copies are worthless in terms of legal value. Any place that really needs them will never accept a copy in lieu of the original.

Posted by
431 posts

I use the "hidden pocket" kind of moneybelt. I don't notice the passport, CCs and DL that I carry all the time. Like Frank, I carry it for the same reasons. Since it's so easy to carry, why not?

Posted by
11436 posts

LOL ,as I read James post,, thought wow, we agree on something,, what a shocker,,, read point 5, burst out laughing.

Posted by
833 posts

I know this topic has been discussed relentlessly, but wanted to tell you all what I was told by Italian police today. (It was an informational session, I was not stopped.) You ARE required to carry your passport on you at all times. A photocopy of your ID is not sufficient. If you don't have it on you, and they are just doing a random stop, you will probably be brought into the Questura until someone can come and bring your passport for you. If you are involved in something more serious, or have no one to bring your passport, you will likely go through the process of finger printing, photo, etc, which they send to the all the regional Italian police to see if you are wanted anywhere, you waiting there in a cell until this process is finished. (And this is regarding Americans... people of other nationalities may face a heavier process) The law says you must have it on you. Some police will strictly enforce it, some will not. It can just depend on the circumstance and mood of the officer. If you are going to be here for a while, you will get your Permesso di Soggiorno, permit of stay, and once you have that ID you may carry it and leave your passport at home. (I will get mine soon, excited!)

Posted by
9110 posts

Devon, how long are you going to be there? I thought the Permesso di Soggiorno was only required for periods in excess of three months?

Posted by
833 posts

You are correct, Ed. I am here for over four months. It is a lengthy process. You have to apply for it within the first 8 days of being here, and then don't have your Questura meeting until much later (for me, over a month). Then still won't receive the permesso ID for a bit longer after that. That bit of the information doesn't apply to most people on the helpline, but wanted to throw it in there just in case, especially to clarify that if you do have a permesso, it is acceptable for ID in the EU and you don't have to carry your passport around.

Posted by
833 posts

The police here specifically told us that once we had our PDS we no longer needed to carry our passports. Crossing borders I will still bring my passport of course, but unless I find out otherwise I am going to follow what they say.

Posted by
791 posts

If your PDS took as long as mine then you'll be gone before you can pick it up. Honestly, you shouldn't bother unless you want it as a souvenier. As long as you have the receipt from when you applied it's as good as having the PDS. I may be wrong on this but I think you still need to carry your passport with the PDS. The PDS is just basically a visa extension. I've had to show both when stopped at checkpoints. I do know however that the PDS alone is not sufficient if you cross borders.

Posted by
12 posts

We were personally never stopped and checked for id. but on the train from Florence to Rome a group of young Asian adults riding in the car with us were all asked to show passports. I have no idea why they were asked as they were posing no problems on the train, mostly trying to sleep. It was odd considering no one else was asked or even checked for train tickets. Perhaps they were looking for an individual or it was just random. We did however carry our passports with us most of the time just to be certain we had valid id for the tickets to places we purchased on line.

Posted by
791 posts

Of course Devon, do what you want. But consider this: Just because you were told something, even from the Questura, doesn't mean it's correct. It'll probably never happen but if you should get stopped and all you have is a PDS (and I'm correct) and you get a cop that wants to be be pissy about it....he won't care what the Questura told you. I had a co-worker who went through a ten month struggle with the Questura over his wife's PDS.....told many different things by many different people in the office.....the issue was never resolved and the day before they were leaving Italy for good (after being re-assured by the Questura everything was ok) the Carabinieri were knocking on the door to take her into custody.
AND, even if that info you got is correct.....the cop that stops you may not know that. The several times I've been stopped at checkpoints the cops wanted both (along with the IDP). As I said, I may be wrong about it but, to me anyways, simply folding up the PDS (or you may get the CC type) and keeping it with my passport covers me with no questions.

Posted by
833 posts

I understand that Ron, I know it's my own risk. (It's like the people in my program now who don't think it's worth it to carry their passport even before they have their PDS - I don't agree with that, but can't stop them.) There are only a few cops for the city I'm living in, and it was the head of the force who told us the PDS was fine. Of course, any other cop on the street may not know that, or may just feel like giving me a harder time. I'll have to decide what to do when I get my actual PDS. (And also, I'm not talking about a car checkpoint or anything because I most likely won't be driving. I have my IDP in case I rent a car while I'm here, but I just walk or take the train everywhere.)

Posted by
363 posts

I can't resist adding my 2 cents to this post! I guess I've been really lucky while travelling in Italy since, for starters, I usually stay w/relatives, and leave my passport in their apartment since there's less chance of losing it/getting it taken, and have never been asked for ID, and have never registered w/police. Knock on wood, no prob so far. Then again, I never drive or go on cruises while in Europe. Also, the only hotel I stayed in last month in Italy (while not staying w/relatives!) accepted my b/w passport photocopy w/o hesitation...

Posted by
1516 posts

There were a couple times where we needed passports, and had we not had them we would have been SOL. One of the regulars RS posters advised us that we'd need passports to purchase tickets to a socker match. Not only did we need to buy the tickets, they checked the name on the tickets against the passports in order to enter the stadium. The second time we needed them, we had taken the train into Florence for the day and as an afterthought, brought our passports. In order to go on the Segway tour that we'd reserved and prepaid for, they needed our passports. We came so close to leaving the passports back at the house.
So my advice is, just keep them in your money belt.

Posted by
48 posts

Lots of advise from lots of experienced travelers. In the States my Drivers License or Military ID card is the proper ID. I carry those with me all the time, not a photo copy, but I have a photo copy in my records in case the original is lost of stolen. Which has happened, stolen actually! So for me my passport is my identification to be in that country. I will keep it along with by DL and IDP on my person, and have copies back in my luggage, in case it is lost or stolen.