Do You Really Need To Carry Your Passport With You At All Times?

Before our last trip to Paris we were in a conundrum.  We couldn’t decide whether to carry our passport on our body at all times or just leave it in the hotel.  So of course we did what all human beings do when they need sage advice —-  we GOOGLED IT!  Here’s the first thing that shows up in google when you search “Should I carry my passport at all times”…
So google says, leave it in your hotel.  I scroll down and see all the travel forums, like Fodors, Trip Advisor, etc.   So this is what one of the travelers on Fodor’s Forum had to say :
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So it’s “generally the law”—problem is I searched high and low and couldn’t find that law!
USA Today, which I consider a pretty reliable source, says in their article “Should I carry my passport with me at all times?” that you should carry your actual passport when:

  • You are traveling by train or plane
  • Crossing international borders
  • You are in Thailand

They say don’t carry it when:

  • When you are traveling locally by bus or on foot
  • When your hotel has a safe (leave it in there)

There is also the issue of copies which I read on many forums, many people carry around photocopies of their passports.  USA Today says make digital copies and email them to yourself, a family member, etc.
I just wasn’t convinced because as I was scouring the internet for the carrying your passport ‘law’ that I can’t seem to find, I found even more opinions on what to do! Look at this scary one from Fodor’s Forum:
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Armed with that scary thought, we decided we were going to keep our passports close to our bodies the entire trip to Paris.  I got my fanny pack and Mike got his neck purse, we stuffed our passports in and off we went!
STATION BREAK–STATION BREAK–STATION BREAK!!!!   Let’s talk about the neck purse.   In Mike’s defense,  I did tell him he had to carry his passport with him at all times .  But little did I know he was going to carry it around in that ridiculous contraption.  Mind you it was under his t-shirt –but COME ON  people who are we fooling!   It bulges in the front and the knot thing sticks out.  That thing hollers tourist–there should have been a neon sign on the front of his shirt saying, “HEY EVERYONE ! I AM A TOURIST AND MY PASSPORT IS HANGING AROUND MY NECK !!!!”

Anyway back to my story– to me one major problem with carrying your passport besides possibly losing it, is the silly thing  triggers security scanners!   Did you know that?  We didn’t.  Since virtually every tourist attraction these days has some kind of security scanner you’re constantly having to do the ‘airport security dance’ which can get old, fast.
Day one of our trip– We go through the security scanner at Arc de Triomphe and Mike keeps triggering the alarm.  He has taken off his watch, belt, money, phone and the backpack was in the bucket.  I thought they were going to make him take off his pants next …luckily someone said, “Passport?”.   Ah yes….his neck purse under his shirt had his passport in it
He has to untangle his layers of clothing, get to the neck purse –he then takes it off, throws it in the bucket and VOILA–the thing stops buzzing!  Having to do that every time got me to thinking, “Do we really need to carry our passports around?”
The answer to that question is there is no answer, just lots of opinions and no real clear law that I could find.   Since I couldn’t find the answer, I decided to go old school and use my brain.  Reason it out, use logic.


So here’s my take on carrying your passport around.  Yes it’s a huge hassle and it triggers security scanners at all the tourist traps. BUT–It’s your only form of  real ID in a foreign country.
Hypothetically- lets say you are in Paris, it’s late, you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and a police authority asks you for your ID, in other words your PASSPORT!  Instead, you pull out some ratty piece of printer paper folded into quarters with a picture of your passport on it.

Or maybe you are one of those ‘digital’ people and it’s on your smartphone.  So you and the officer scroll through your 1,000 pictures of selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower trying to find the passport picture.  Get my drift?


Let’s put it another way– say you’re a cop here in the U.S. and you pull over a foreigner for speeding or something . You ask them for their ID–and they also pull out some ratty piece of printer paper with a picture of their passport on it.  What would you think?  Would you  be happy with that as their official form of ID?  I doubt it.
So to me logic says– why take the chance? Showing my actual real life passport to a police officer in a foreign land is probably going to get me a lot farther than the folded up piece of printer paper.  Like the person who posted in Fodor’s said, no tourist has landed in jail for carrying their passport.
Yes, there is a risk of getting it lost or stolen on your travels–but most of us our responsible adults.  You got yourself to Paris, you booked your hotel, bought your plane ticket… yada yada.  I think if you carried your passport around you could keep from losing it if you really wanted.  There’s plenty of clever ways to carry your passport if you need to, besides the neck purse.

Funny thing is– we never seem to lose our iPhones!!!  Have you noticed that? We hang onto those for dear life!  How often do you hear of people losing their iPhones, hardly ever.  We go to some crazy lengths not to lose our phones.

So why do you think you are going to lose your passport?  Let’s be real, if passports could fit into our wallets this would be a non-issue.  But since they are the size of a small children’s book it’s a huge hassle.  I think that’s the real reason we don’t carry them.

Until the day we can add our passports to our apple wallets,  I say get a neck purse or a fanny pack and just carry it!
Now go out and set the world on fire!!  ~~Mike and Donna~~


Mike and Donna have been exploring the world slowly since 2017. They are halfway to their goal of exploring every country in Europe! They would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!


  1. March 15, 2017 / 8:02 pm

    You’ve definitely posed a question we’ve asked many times. And most of the time, we leave passports in the safe in our hotel room and carry a copy. Best wishes for making the right decision!

    • March 15, 2017 / 9:34 pm

      I follow Drew Binsky on Snapchat– he is in Russia and got confronted by police and they asked for his passport and he didn’t have it– they almost put him in the vehicle but he gave them so many and they left him alone….. could be a scam but either way… we will carry ours

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