By Andrea Romano
February 12, 2020
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Seasoned international travelers are familiar with the ins and outs of checking into a European hotel. After a long flight, you walk up to the concierge, give them your reservation information and hand over your passport.

That’s right. Many European hotels check your passport in addition to asking for a credit card for incidentals. In most cases, you only need to show your passport at check in, or, rarely, leave it overnight.

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According to Traveller, in the U.K., it’s actually required by law. The Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972 states "all hotels, must keep a record of the full name and nationality of guests over 16 years of age.” In addition, visitors must also list the number and place of issue of their passport, their nationality, and their next destination, just as they would have to while traveling through Customs.

This procedure isn’t meant to inconvenience anyone. Quite the contrary. These hotels keep a record of passports to cross check for wanted criminals, look for missing persons, or protect against identity thieves.

Of course, handing over your personal identification can be risky, even if you’re giving it to a reputable hotel with (most likely) trustworthy employees. If a hotel asks for your passport, it’s most likely that it is required for you to hand it over. If you refuse, hotels can turn you away.

Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the Association of British Travel Agents told The Daily Mail, “In the past many hotels retained passports to ensure that customers didn't sneak off without settling their bills, but in the days of credit cards this is largely unnecessary.”

But, Tipton added, that hotels are usually the least of your worries when it comes to fraud. But, it is still okay to be cautious. “Although it is highly unlikely that your passport would be misused, lost, or stolen by your hotel, once your details have been taken down, you are quite within your rights to insist that it is returned,” he told The Daily Mail.

Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket added, to the Daily Mail, “I ask [the hotel] to record the details I need or to take a photocopy. I also travel with two photocopies of my passport.”

This way, you can make sure you can keep your passport in a safe place. In fact, those safes inside your room are the best place to keep it.