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A passport is one of the most valuable documents that a traveler carries, and keeping it safe is a top priority. The document is needed when entering and leaving a foreign country, and for identification purposes while in the country. The best tips for passport safety include keeping the document securely locked up, using a copy while traveling within the foreign country, and reporting a lost or stolen passport as soon as possible.
When not in use for travel, a good rule of thumb for passport safety is to keep it locked in a safe. If possible, the passport should be kept in a safety deposit box at a local bank or other financial institution, which keeps it safe from both thieves and disasters, such as fires or floods. If this is not possible, it should be kept in a home fireproof safe, preferably one that is well hidden.
Extra precautions should be taken on the days of travel, when the passport must be kept on hand for inspection. This is the ideal time for a thief to steal the document, and ensuring passport safety also ensures arriving at the final destination without major complications. If two or more people are traveling together, each should hold onto their own passport, as well as a copy of each of the other traveler’s document. A copy should also be placed in the suitcase and any carry-on luggage.
To ensure passport safety, the document should not be kept in an outer pocket or purse, as these are easy targets for pickpockets and thieves. Special passport holders, such as those that go around the neck or tuck inside the pants, are good options. If they must be kept in a purse, the purse should have a long strap so it can be worn across the body, and it should never be left unattended.
Once travelers reach their final destination, the passport should be kept in a hotel safe, either in room or at the front desk. For the remainder of the trip, a photocopy of the original document should be sufficient identification. Carrying the document on person in a foreign country may put passport safety at risk. It is easier to replace a lost photocopy than a lost passport.
Occasionally, despite following all the best passport safety tips, a passport is still lost or stolen. If this happens, it should be reported to the consulate of the traveler’s home country immediately. Having a photocopy of the original document can help speed up the process of replacing the passport.
It's important to know what your options are if your passport is stolen when you're overseas. Often if it is stolen, your wallet and money will be taken at the same time and that's a scary feeling.
I had mine stolen a year ago when I was traveling in Europe and it was terrifying. I managed to get back to my hotel and get online to put a hold on my credit cards, but I quickly realized that even if the thief hadn't managed to get much money off of me, by taking all my identification, he was leaving me with very few options.
I was fortunate that there was an embassy nearby and they were able to help me
and the hostel I was staying at was very kind as well. There isn't an embassy for every country in every city though, obviously and you might have all the money in the world in your bank account but without ID or credit cards you won't be able to access it.
So, always have a backup plan for losing your passport, or better yet, always keep your passport and your wallet in separate places whenever you can.
I've got into the habit of double checking that I've got everything every few minutes now when I'm traveling which can be annoying, but at least it keeps me safe.
@Iluviaporos - If you are being mugged and the person wants your passport you are better off just giving it to them. If you look like a traveler, they are going to know that you have it on you somewhere. And a passport can be very valuable on the black market. I've heard that a good US passport can go for $10,000 or more.
That's not worth your life though. It's a hassle to replace them, but that's it. So, personally I think the best passport safety tip is to be prepared to give it up if you have to.
I've heard of people who have argued with muggers and been shot because they didn't cooperate. On the other hand, it's also a good idea to keep some cash on hand to give up if you have to, which might also keep you safe.
One of the best secret pouches I've ever seen for hiding a passport when you're traveling is a trick belt. It just looks like an ordinary belt, perhaps a little bit wider than most, but it has a compartment which fits a passport and maybe a little bit of money as well.
The best thing about it is that no only will no one think to try and pickpocket you there (and they won't be able to do it, even if they did know about it) but even if you are mugged, you should still be able to keep your passport secure.
A mugger might think to look in ordinary secret pockets or in places like shoes, but they won't think of a trick belt because it's fairly unique.
I've only ever seen these in travel stores, as an accessory, but I'm sure you can get them online as well.
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