I'll be travelling to London this May/June and was wondering if i should carry my passport with me as i go sightseeing? Thanks!
From the US Department of State site: Visitors in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are not expected to produce identity documents for police authorities and thus may secure their passports in hotel safes or residences.
Outside of checking into hotels and crossing international borders (and casing money orders in the old days) I have never been asked for my passport in Europe. By reflex action I always carry important documents, including passports in my moneybelt, but I have to admit I felt a little silly doing this in rural England and Ireland. Because I'm used to it I just carried on with my habit but even I have to admit I debated whether it was really necessary. My fallback question is always "What would happen if you were to lose these passports and return plane tickets?" and that worst case scenario makes me put up with the minor inconvenience of carrying them. But don't carry them expect to have to produce them for any reason. My US$.02,
No requirement to routinely carry ID with you - or for that matter your driving licence either.
I don't see the logic of leaving your passport behind... an unwatched hotel room is an easy target for a thief. I feel that it is far more likely that my passport is going to be stolen from a hotel room than that I will loose it!
My wife and I have our passports with us any time we are out of a hotel room. We secure them in places on our person where they will not be taken or accidentally lost. Passports are not just for on the spot identification, but many times you will need your passport if doing bank business or buying tickets. Whatever you do with your passport it is important to form a habit of always doing the same thing so you don't forget it someplace.
I always carry mine in my money belt, but this is largely because of Monte's reasoning: if I do the same thing every time, in every place, I won't lose it. If I start putting in the room safe when there is one, and taking it with me when there isn't one (and many of my hotels don't have them), it won't be long before I left it behind. As for being asked to produce a passport, the other place besides hotel check in and money changing has been buying SIM cards for my phone. I knew I'd have to do this in Italy, but was surprised in Germany (since I had it with me, it was not a problem). In Italy, Internet cafes used to make a copy of everyone's passport, by law (designed to catch terrorists and Internet predators); someone here said that the law has been changed. I've also had to show my passport to get into some Jewish sights (I think it was the Jewish Museums in Munich and Istanbul); these often have high security.
Well, you'll always want to carry some form of ID, right? What if you get hit by a bus?? (Famous "mother's warning") If you use a moneybelt, you can keep it there and will soon forget all about it, yet it will be safe. Happy travels!
" Well, you'll always want to carry some form of ID, right?" Why?
Why? Well if anything happened to me, I'd like people to be able to easily identify me and notify my family etc. On a couple of occasions where I wanted to use my credit card to make large payments I was asked for additional identification. And like I said before, I think it is safer with me than being in an unattended hotel room for the day. And of course on mainland Europe it is a requirement.
A couple of times I have been asked for ID when renting an audio guide. Of course if they want you to leave it at the desk I probably would not use my passport for that!
I agree with Jim, "an unwatched hotel room is an easy target for a thief." Over the years, I have had numerous things stolen from hotel rooms; and yes, even from the room safe. The hotel room doors are often left open while the maids clean your room during the day. You can walk down the hall of any hotel and see this. Agree with Monte and Harold: I always carry my passport in my moneybelt. I also carry my airline tickets and cash in the moneybelt.
You need to develop habits or you'll screw up. Stick it in a safe only sometimes and you're going to leave it there sooner or later. You might need it to purchase a new sim. Or something else you never thought of. You might be some place where the hotel has become untenable or you can't figure out how to get through the mess and need to find other digs or head for the airport. You might be closer to the airport than the hotel when you find out that Aunt Emma is about to croak and you need to get moving homeward immediately. I've been down all of these roads somewhere at one time or another - - except the safe/hotel business. The only time I don't have a passport with me is when I know I'm going to get wet or muddy as hell and don't have a zip-lock.
I'm still at a loss to understand why you would carry a passport with you, but I do agree that it is better to get into a habit. Personally, we put our passports into our suitcase and leave in the hotel, but others clearly are panicked by that. I suggest you do what you feel comfortable with.
There is a culture in the UK that I have noticed over the many years I have lived here of not carrying any ID. I honestly don't get it but it seems that most people don't carry their driving license or any other official ID with them, or at least when questioned claim to have none. The law even says that you can turn up at a police station days later to produce your driving license if you have been asked for it at a stop or an accident. Beats me. In the States it was only the criminals who didn't carry ID. I wonder how the police know which house to go to if you're in an accident. Old habits die hard on both sides I guess. I always carry my license, required or not; when in Europe either I or my wife always have our passports in a money-belt under our clothes. Anybody using a Britrail pass or Eurail pass needs to be able to support their passes with passports when requested by the train conductor.
Needing to carry or just even the issue of state identity papers or documents has been considered un-British historically, and something you find in countries where rulers and politicians like to control the minutiae of citizens' movements and lives. Whether this attitude may change in the future is a different matter. It was a motorist who took the test case through the appeal court in 1951 that led to the ID cards issued originally for WWII being scrapped.