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Lost Passport

I have stayed at a few hostels in the US, but this will be my first experience in Europe. I recently read in the reviews about a backpackers' hostel where the hostel lost a guest's passport. How often are the guests required to give the hostel their passport? I've never had to before, then again, I've never been to Europe before. Is it a common practice?

Posted by
6386 posts

I have stayed in hostels from 2002 - 2014. Never had to leave a passport with the hostel. They record what they need at check in and give it back to you. What you read is extremely rare

Posted by
1878 posts

I have seldom encountered this in recent years, but twenty years ago they sometimes wanted to hold your passport in Italy. Some countries require that hotels report on foreigners staying with them, so they will ask for your passport. Usually they will give it right back to you, perhaps after making a copy. If they want to keep it, it might be because they are trying to guard against you sneaking out without paying. In 2008 I had a hotel listed in Rick's Portugal book that gave me a choice between paying in advance and letting them keep my passport. It was a great hotel but if today I would report that maneuver to Rick's staff as well as posting about it on TripAdvisor. In my view if they have your credit card number, they are welcome to pre-authorize but treating you as if you might skip out on the bill is out of bounds. That said, it might go with the territory when staying in hostels.

Posted by
16567 posts

I suspect holding the passport is done when:

  1. The country requires collection of ID information on each hotel registrant. and
  2. There isn't a copy machine conveniently located near the registration desk and the receptionist is too busy when you arrive to leave the lobby and make a copy.

I don't stay in hostels, but I've been asked to leave my passport at a hotel desk a few times. It's generally ready for me to pick up after I've dropped my luggage in my room and am ready to head out. The biggest issue for me is remembering to ask for it.

Posted by
12084 posts

Never had such an experience at hostels or in a hotel. Hotels don't take your passport either. I still stay in hostels occasionally.

The hostel doesn't take your passport . Forget the reviews. They just look at it while you are standing there to be checked in. What you do is to write the Passport number on the hostel registration form and your nationality. Every one fills out one of those. In Germany it's called a "Meldeschein." (den Meldeschein ausfüllen.)

The hostel requires you to turn over is a photo ID which you get back, obviously, at check-out, when you return the "card-key" and the bed sheets. The sheets are plastic wrapped, given to you free at check-in.

For the photo ID I give the Calif Dr. License. Admittedly, I was a bit wary about this the first time but you have no choice. Totally groundless concerns on my part. There is always a staff person behind the counter, I mean always, the area is never left unoccupied.

Posted by
92 posts

Years ago I had hotels in Italy ask for my passport at check in. When this first happen I asked what the reason was. I was told it was to complete paperwork, which the night shift would do. My passport was returned to me in the morning. That was probably 20 years ago. Now, they usually ask to see it at check in, paperwork is done and my passport given back to me. I also tend to stay at very small independent hotels and each place has a slightly different process. Have a great trip!

Posted by
20553 posts

Please, asking for and sometimes keeping the passport is not a tourist scam. It is routine in Italy for the desk clerk to take your passport and make a copy -- sometimes right now and sometimes a little later. As noted above, years ago it was common to keep the passport overnight so that a manual copy could be make. Now it is more common just to make a photo copy and return it. The practice varies by country. But everyone will want to see your passport.

Posted by
2575 posts

It will depend on the country you will visit. Consider making some photocopies of your passport and if they want to hold your original (because of needing to register you) then offer them a photo copy instead. Hopefully you have a credit card to make hostel lodging payment or offer to make a cash deposit for surity of payment rather than have them hold your passport ransom.

Posted by
3103 posts

I have only been asked for my passport at hotels in Italy and the Czech Republic (haven't stayed in a hostel so can't say what they do). The person at the desk wrote some information down and immediately returned it to me. On one group tour, we all had to hand over our passports as a group and they were ready for us to pick up after dinner. This was simply so we did not all have to crowd around the check in desk while the required information was recorded. No where have I had to leave my passport until checkout (this is something you often see in old spy movies) giving the hotel an opportunity to lose anything.

It is no different than in the US where you have to show your ID (usually driver license) and provide a credit card at check in.

Posted by
5537 posts

I have had hotels in other countries, not only in Europe, keep my passport overnight to copy the data when the front desk was too busy to do it at check in. They are always checked, especially in Italy.

Posted by
633 posts

This is common practice. I always carry a color copy of the main page and have never had them not accept that. I still always get that back but if for some reason I forget to ask for it back (and they usually remind me) at least I have the real thing with me.

Posted by
14 posts

Take pics of your passport wit your phone. As for traveling in Europe, in the last 20 years, I never had to give up my passport for anything..

Posted by
8293 posts

“I have never had to give up my passport anywhere.”

Then you have never stayed at a hotel in Italy.

Posted by
12084 posts

The hotel at Frankfurt Hbf staff guy told me what is done at check-in when you hand over the passport as a first time guest. Obviously, since it is behind the counter, you don't see what is going on. At check-in as a second time guest, I noticed I didn't have to fill out the "Meldeschein," the registration paper. So, I asked. (Kein Meldeschein auszufüllen?). I told him I had done that the first time as a hotel guest.

He explained to me that when you hand over the Passport, it's swiped or photographed. The reproduction comes out in a 8.5 x 11 (something like that) which goes into a binder. He asked, notice the binders behind the front desk? Admittedly, I hadn't, he pulls it from the shelve, shows me the photo copy of me and the other passport details, which is what the police want to see when they routinely drop by. All this he explains to me...interesting.

Posted by
6024 posts

I recently read in the reviews about a backpackers' hostel where the hostel lost a guest's passport.

Hmm, ..Did the hostel lose it or is someone blaming them for their own carelessness?

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks to everyone for the info. Now, I won't be surprised when the hostel receptionist asks for my passport. I have taken the advice about having a photo copy of it, I'll present that if they want to keep my passport. Thanks!

Posted by
3115 posts

Now, I won't be surprised when the hostel receptionist asks for my
passport. I have taken the advice about having a photo copy of it,
I'll present that if they want to keep my passport. Thanks!

The receptionist will ask to see your passport, take down the info needed or just photocopy the info page, and then GIVE IT BACK TO YOU.

Posted by
13896 posts

I've only stayed at one hostel in Europe - in Florence. Once or twice (stayed there 3x) they took my passport and suggested I check into my room and drop my stuff and come back to pick it up later - maybe an hour. That can happen when they're busy. Today everyone has a photocopier, so no need to keep the passport very long at all. Most places in Europe are required to look at your passport and note the details, and they have found it more efficient (or maybe it's the law) to make a photocopy or scan it. Just be aware that you will probably have to show it when you check in.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks for the recent replies! I understand the need to SEE my passport but the hostel reviewer said that the hostel kept his passport for the duration of his stay and when he checked out, the passport was nowhere to be found. That concerned me! I'm fine with them looking at it and then handing it back to me. Thanks for letting me your experiences.

Posted by
8485 posts

In Italy, tourists are required to register with the police. Rather than having thousands of tourists line up at the local police station, hotels/hostels/etc do it for you. That's why they need your passport.

The law is different in every country.

Posted by
20553 posts

But, if they want to keep it, Connie, they are with in their rights. Remember, you are a guest in their country with their rules and regulations that you comply with. While a lost passport is possible, the probability is very low. We have given up our passport dozens of times and sometimes for several days without any problem.

Posted by
12084 posts

Hi,

The common practice I have experienced in the last ten years of staying in hostels and hotels in France, England, Austria and Germany is that no one kept my passport...period.

I would totally disregard what that hostel reviewer said.

At the hostels what they did keep during my duration was my Calif Dr Lic, which they wanted because they give you card-key (Karten-Schlüssel) so that you can access your room locker as well as your room, be it a private room or a dorm room. I stay in both..just depends.

When you turn in the card key and sheets, then the hostel returns your Dr Lic....equal swap.

You write your passport number on the check-in form, that's all. Your passport is not kept by the hotel. That was done in the old days, say, back in the 1980s when I did turn over my passport, (that was in France). That check-in form is what the police will look at if they want to.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks for the updates. It's all good info and makes sense. Good to know!