I am really hesitant to leave my passport with the front desk of the hotel upon check-in, even though I have read that this is common and that it should be returned to me in a matter of hours. Has anyone ever shown their passport, then given the hotel a photo copy so they can register you with authorities? I may be old school, but I had it drilled into my head for years to never let your passport out of your sight.
Yes, very old school. If bringing a bunch of photo copies of your passport makes you feel better, go ahead.
They are really only doing it to save themselves (and you) time at the desk. They can then fill write out your details details when they are less busy. Some places will just photocopy it and hand it back immediately, if they have a photocopier at the desk.
If you are worried, have a spare photocopy to give them.
They don't need to "register you with authorities", but in most European countries there is a requirement to record the nationality and passport details of all foreign guests, and the police can ask for the details later, for example in a terrorism case.
I was also taught "never let your passport out of your sight", but I am slightly more relaxed now, especially as I have a scanned copy I can access any time, and I know how borders in Europe actually work now and have crossed them many times without having to show a passport.
As noted, the photocopy will work IF they want to keep it for a few hours. It's rare now for them to keep it with scanners and photocopiers; most places will just make a copy or scan so they can enter the data later.
It's also not a big deal to let them hold your passport. No one in Western Europe will haul you off to the dungeon for not having it on your person and some countries don't even require you to have it. Many people choose to leave their in the hotel safe.
Having traveled to Europe prior to the advent of scanners/copiers, leaving your passport at the hotel desk is routine to me.
Rarely do hotels keep your passport for any length of time now. Usually they record the information while you are checking in. Sometimes they make a photocopy themselves to record later. It is typically only if they are busy that they ask to hold it. When this happens, I often just tell them that I will come back and pick it up in about 20 minutes before I leave the hotel. I take my bags to my room and pick up the passport on my way out.
By the way, a hotel asking for your passport is not a "tourist scam" :)
Wherever I have gone in recent years, Poland, Germany, England, France, Austria, if the hotel front desk asks for my passport, I hand it over, simple as that. You have to write down the Passport number anyway on the hotel form (Meldeschein), show it, and it is given right back to you...certainly not in a few hours. I've never had that happen , not even 30-40 years ago. I'm old school too and don't give the hotel a paper copy, never did that either.
We've had to leave our passports with the desk a couple of times when they've been busy but they've always been ready for us to pick up once we've dropped the bags and gotten settled. It's not a scam, and I wouldn't worry about it at all.
Also if in the UK don't think the clerk is being nosey when he or she asks you for the address of your next destination after your stay. It is a legal requirement to obtain this from 'aliens' (as this old time legislation puts it).
Thanks, everyone. This makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing. Come to think of it, when I used to travel in Europe l-o-n-g ago, I usually stayed in Hostels or in private homes (not having been able to afford hotels) so this part is new to me.
I know it is not a Scam, I just could not figure out where else to post it.
Thanks, again, for sharing your experiences.
I am about as old school as it comes. It was never drilled into my head about not giving up the passport. In fact it was common to give it up. Can remember in the 70s, 80, when we routinely gave it to the hotel clerk overnight, to the train conductors, etc. Always got the passport back. Never thought twice about it. It was just the way it was done. Now it is less frequent since the desk clerk will often copy it but, again, especially in Italy, we have left it with the desk clerk for a couple of hours. I guess I am not as paranoid as some when it comes to how the passport is handled. Yes, I do have a color copy of my passport when I travel.
The idea of a copy of your passport is over rated. It is only good to prove to the US embassy that you once had a passport should your lose your passport and need a replacement. As an alternate id it is crazy for anyone to accept it because a copy is so easy to forge. For the hotel it might work since they could compare the copy to the original and save them making a copy.