How to keep your passport safe

Losing your passport is one of the most stressful possibilities while on holiday.

As valuable documents, they are often the target of thieves, which isn’t great if you are travelling to countries that require you to carry them at all times such as Japan, China and Russia.

But what can we do to make sure this vital document is safe?

The safest place is handing it to the hotel front desk for them to put in their safe. This way you’re safe from dodgy housekeeping staff and thieves getting their hands on it.

Hotel safe

Second, I would suggest using the hotel room safe, although, there is a chance that staff could access it.

Depending on the type of hotel, you’ll have more chance of it being stolen by muggers, pickpockets or snatch and grab gangs than you would losing it in the hotel.

If you do have to carry it on you, it’s best to do so in a money belt, although, if you look like a tourist (which you probably would in China), muggers will assume you have one on, making you a more attractive target.

You’re probably getting the idea that there is no guarantee for passport safety, so I’m going to give you some tips on how to handle it should anything actually happen.

Keep copies

Always have copies of your passport when you travel and always leave a photocopy of your passport at home. It’s good to have a laminated copy of your passport to carry with you in countries that require you to have one on you at all times. That way, if you’re pulled up by the authorities, you can say “this is a copy, my original is in my hotel safe (or wherever)”.

Leave a spare copy in your luggage, maybe one in your wallet and maybe one in the book you’re reading. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of your passport so you can have a copy on your phone.

And if a mugger is going to take your passport, chances are, they’ll take your wallet and phone, too. So, make sure you have a cash passport card with some money on it and a spare SIM card back at the hotel.

You should contact the local police and the Australian consulate or high commission if your passport is stolen. They’ll guide you through the next steps. You will have to pay for an emergency replacement passport.

There really is no guarantee, but if I had to boil it down, this is what I would do:

    • have a laminated copy to carry on me at all times
    • keep my original passport at the hotel, either at the front desk or in the room safe
    • have a photo of it on my phone and in an email
    • Use a money belt or anti-theft pocket or pouch
    • Never give the passport to a vendor
    • do my best to make sure I don’t lose or have my passport stolen.

Have you ever lost your passport overseas? How did you handle it? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: What type of damage will void your passport?


  1. Never give your passport to a rental company when hiring cars, scooters, water toys etc. offer them a copy. If they won’t accept a copy then walk away as this can be the start of a very expensive scam. Just google “jet ski scams in Thailand” or “scams in SE Asia”
    This article also missed one important point. Any passport issued by any country is the property of the Government of that country including Australia. It is issued to you a form of identity foe travel outside of Australia.

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