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Passport Safety Tips


Your passport is the most valuable document you will carry abroad. It confirms your U.S. citizenship. Guard it carefully. Do not use it as collateral for a loan or lend it to anyone. It is your best form of identification. You will need it when you pick up mail or check into hotels, embassies or consulates.

When entering some countries or registering at hotels, you may be asked to fill out a police card listing your name, passport number, destination, local address, and reason for traveling. You may be required to leave your passport at the hotel reception desk overnight so it may be checked by local police officials. These are normal procedures required by local laws. If your passport is not returned the following morning, immediately report the impoundment to local police authorities and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.


Law enforcement records show that U.S. passports are sometimes used for illegal entry into the United States or by criminals abroad seeking to establish another identity. This can cause embarrassment to innocent citizens whose names become associated with illegal activities. To protect the integrity of the U.S. passport and the security of the person bearing it, consular officers overseas have found it necessary to take precautions in processing lost passport cases. These precautions may involve some delay before a new passport is issued.


Carelessness is the main cause for losing a passport or having it stolen. You may find that you have to carry your passport with you because either you need to show it when you cash travelers checks or the country you are in requires you to carry it as an identity document. When you must carry your passport, hide it securely on your person. Do not leave it in a handbag or an exposed pocket. Whenever possible, leave your passport in the hotel safe, not in an empty hotel room or packed in your luggage. One family member should not carry all the passports for the entire family.

Excerpted from:U. S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. U. S. State Department Publication 9926. February, 1992. pgs. 23-24. Note: As of July, 1997 this was the latest non-internet-published U.S. State Department document pertaining to this topic.

More "Your Personal Security"

Your Armchair Advisor says " Make two copies of the important information in your passport. Leave one copy with a responsible friend or family member. Pack the other copy in another piece of luggage. If your passport is lost or stolen this will make it easier to obtain a replacement."

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