28th Mar 2018
Travel SOS: How to keep your passport safe
Travel SOS: How to keep your passport safe

Mel is heading to China and has heard stories of passports being stolen by muggers in the region. She’s asked Leon for tips on how she can keep her passport safe and secure.


Q. Mel
I am going to China and I’ve been told I have to keep my passport on me at all times. I’m a bit worried about the gangs that snatch passports and I’m also concerned about leaving it at the hotel. How do I keep it safe?

A. There are quite a few countries that require you to carry your passport at all times, such as China, Hong Kong, Italy and France (to name a few) and, yes, it does put you in a tricky predicament if you’re worried about its safety.

First, I would suggest the safest place is handing it to the 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.

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 in which you’re staying, 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 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.

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
  • do my best to make sure I don’t lose or have my passport stolen.

I hope this helps!

If you have a Travel SOS question, send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can.

Have you ever lost your passport overseas? How did you handle it?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    Cowboy Jim
    31st Mar 2018
    Love to see the day when Aussies also can carry an international ID card. Bob Hawke wanted to get us one but the Libs at the time were against it. I still use my European one and that works in all places where I have been. The size of a driver's licence makes it easy to conceal.
    Also with me at all times is a copy of the passport and also the page with the visa, specially handy in China.
    31st Mar 2018
    Make sure you have at least six months left on your passport before it expires, even if leaving for a short holiday overseas. Check with the country you'll be going to as six months is a legal requirement in some places.
    Cowboy Jim
    31st Mar 2018
    All places, Triss - even our neighbors insist on the 6 months. Just come back from New Guinea and they had the requirement on their entry form.
    31st Mar 2018
    Thanks for the update, Cowboy Jim.
    31st Mar 2018
    You won't get on a overseas flight in Australia if you don't have 6 months validity left on your passport
    31st Mar 2018
    Trood ... Nit tru ... you can get back even if your passport is not current ..... as AU citizen may take a bit of time to validate your Id but you get in

    You need to get familiar with the available information before you post rubbish like this .......READ THIS MATE AND DO NOT POST THIS RUBBISH THAT SCARE PEOPLE

    31st Mar 2018
    More info here ////

    31st Mar 2018
    Well we got robbed in Spain (Barcelona) Passports Money all gone....

    But we always get a photocopy of the passport and copy of the visa of every country we were visiting ...all this reduced to a credit card size so can fit on your pockets or underwear that way you always have an ID.

    So we went to the AU Embassy and got a 10 pages provisional passports and continue our holidays and about money we had Amex card and insurance so we went to Amex local office Id ourselves with the police report copy and passport (New) and we got a $300 cash to continue also the travel credit card where cancelled but we also keep the number on one of the copies.

    Also we only travel with one credit card with limited funds and if we need more money we use ATM to transfer but in our case we went to the local bank id ourselves with the police report and the new 10 pages passport and we got more cash ....all good and safe for us then later back in AU we file insurance and got all our costs back ... took a bit of time for the insurance to check all papers but at the end all good.
    31st Mar 2018
    If you keep the passport, ID's spare money, cards, etc in a passport belt strapped on you INSIDE your clothing and don't wear tight clothing then no one will know it's there to steal it. Muggers and pickpockets don't strip your clothes off when they are stealing from you. Even Qantas can't take it off you and tell you to store it somewhere else if it is strapped to your body under your clothes. I even slept in my hotel room with these valuables my passport belt/wallet inside my PJ's after hearing of a story from a friend that robbers got into their hotel room at night and robbed everyone while they were asleep.
    31st Mar 2018
    With the new body scanning system in Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles and many other airports you may have to strip out he he he he

    But is a good idea maybe do now sawing just use some velcro so you can take it out before scanning ???? but is a great idea
    31st Mar 2018
    Photograph all your important documents, passport, plane tickets, credit cards, birth certificate, etc, etc, then EMAIL THE PICS TO YOURSELF. If everything is lost you can logon using any computer anywhere and open the email you sent yourself and there are copies of everything.
    31st Mar 2018
    Photograph all your important documents, passport, plane tickets, credit cards, birth certificate, etc, etc, then EMAIL THE PICS TO YOURSELF. If everything is lost you can logon using any computer anywhere and open the email you sent yourself and there are copies of everything.
    eggs and co
    1st Apr 2018
    For my first overseas trip some years ago, a retired Flight Engineer gave me a tip that he used when working and still uses now. Make a "record only" email account with gmail or yahoo or hotmail or other free email account provider to used only for the following records. On your home printer/scanner, scan your latest passport, visa/s, Australian drivers licence, international drivers licence (if you have one) and a record of anything else that will create a problem if lost or stolen. Email your scanned documents to your "record only" email. If everything goes pear-shaped whilst overseas, your ability to access your "record only" email can make it easier for embassy or consulate staff to provide your replacement passport, etc. If not frequently travelling overseas, delete the data from your email account when you return to Oz.
    19th Jan 2019
    A very good idea
    19th Jan 2019
    We always take a photo(scan) of passports etc and leave the originals in the safe of the place we are staying.

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