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05 December 2023

How to keep your passport safe while travelling - expert advice

Keep a copy of all your travel documents and official papers needed for your trip online. (Shuttertock)

By Ajanta Paul

Your passport is a formal identity document or an official certification issued by your government, verifying your identity and citizenship and entitling you to travel under its protection to and from foreign countries.

Passports usually contain your photograph, signature, date of birth, nationality, and sometimes other means of individual identification.

So it is safe to say - losing your passport while travel can not only jeopardise your plans but also rip you of your identity.

You will have to travel to the nearest embassy or consulate to get a replacement, and in some parts of the world, these buildings are in another country. When you receive this small pocket size but crucial document, treat it as if it's gold.

Emirates 24|7 caught up with few frequent travellers to find out what is the best way to keep your passport safe.

Ms Jabry says, "I find the safest bet is to keep my passport in the hotel safe. But I make sure to carry photocopy of all the necessary documents on the trip. In doing so, even if I encounter some untoward incident, like mugging of theft, at least I have all the necessary documents to prove my identity."

Dubai resident Ritika Singh agrees with Jabry and says, "I keep my money and passport in the hotel locker, but make sure not to keep the two in the same pouch. The kind of activities I do like scuba diving and mountaineering, the chances of losing things become higher, so keeping it back in the hotel locker is the best thing for me."

But while she is on a backpacking trail, Ritika prefers to keep it in her backpack. Another resident , Amrita Ghanty concurs, "Muggers will generally snatch handbags but snatching a backpack is not easy."

Kalpita Bhattacharjee says, "Some tourist destinations are notorious for thieves and pickpockets, so my mantra is - not to carry the original if it's possible to manage without one. Keep it in your hotel safe."

But everyone is not on the same page here, G Sahany disagrees, "Room safes are not safe. Hotels are not responsible for anything that is stolen from (or lost in) your hotel room. And that includes the in-room safe. And there are all sorts of things that could potentially go wrong with hotel safes. The first thing a thief is likely to do upon entering your room is head straight for the safe and try simple codes that you might have used in order to remember them easily.

"I have travelled all over the world carrying passport on me, even in some of the infamous tourist hubs."

He says (if at all people want to leave their passport/documents behind) each hotels have safety deposits, so it is better to keep your valuables there than in the room safe.

"Invest in a money belt", says Lucy. "While Sleeping on a train, bus, crowded hostel room, or any other public place, always keep your money, passport, credit cards and camera memory cards on you. Preferably in a money belt. Most likely you will wake up if somebody tries to reach for your belt while you are sleeping."

Another valuable tip comes from Loris Grillet in Quora, "I keep a copy of all my travel documents and official paper needed for the trip online (iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, you name it). This way if I really end up broke, lost and without any identity proof, I know I can get a copy of my documents using any device that has an internet connection."

Lauren Zehara Haas, from IndieTravel.Guru, sums it up for us, "If you're staying in a hotel, leave it in the front desk safe. If you're staying in a hostel, try to carry it with you or, at the very least, make sure it's in your locker. Carry your own padlock if you stay in hostels. Also carry a photocopy. It's a good idea to scan or photograph the front page and e-mail that to yourself, too."

What to do if your passport is lost

The feeling of panic that washes over you when you’ve lost something important like your passport can be overwhelming. First thing first - gather your senses and do not panis, secondly assess your situation and run through your options.

- First of all call the police. You'll need the police report to get a new one and also for insurance If you have it.

- Keep handy list of contact details for the nearest embassies and consulates (do this before you embark on your journey).

- Have a copy not only of your passport but other documents you might need. A laminated copy of the page with your picture is also helpful and will last long even if at the bottom of your bag.

- Depending on your country you could be required to provide pictures. If you're traveling long term it's useful to have some pictures in your bag as they're also required for visas. If not the embassy will definitely know a place to recommend you to go.

Unless you’re a victim to a serious crime or have been affected by a major disaster, there is a fee for getting a lost passport replaced. Make sure you have some emergency funds tucked aside to cover the expense.

As a safety measure it's good to distribute your cash and not keep them all in one place.

Finally, replacement passports are typically valid for only one year after they are issued, so don’t forget to deal with everything once you’ve returned home.

Having a passport stolen is just a temporary inconvenience, a really annoying one of course. But if you are safe and healthy everything will be back to normal soon.