So, I’m travelling to Portugal in a few days and the woman that owns the apartment we‘re staying in is asking for our personal information via a Google Sheet.

The info includes Passport number, full name and nationality, date of birth, and checkin/checkout date.

Is this legitimate? She said she needs it for standard reporting reasons to the authorities.

I‘m just wary that inputting my passport etc into a google sheet seems like a fasttrack to identity theft!

  • 6
    What's wrong with Google Sheets? Many companies have a huge amount of their highly sensitive business data in Google Sheets. It's designed to handle confidential data well and it feels safer than, say, an e-mail or an online portal What method of sharing your passport info would you prefer ?
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


IT professional here. As noted in the other answer, the request is legitimate, so let's break down whether this is a "secure" way to do it.

  1. The first question is security of transit: is your information secure from eavesdropping? In short, yes: any data you input into Sheets is securely sent over encrypted HTTPS (lock icon in browser) and safe from eavesdroppers, and this is in fact a much better way to do it than, say, sending everything by unencrypted email.

  2. Second, is your data secure at rest; in other words, can you trust Google not to leak your data to others, either intentionally or to hackers? On the hacker front, Google has some of the best security in the business, and as for bundling up and selling your data to third parties, Google unambiguously states that this will never happen for data in Sheets. Whether you should trust them on this is another question, but rest assured, a lot of people, companies and regulators would be very, very upset if they ever broke this promise.

  3. Finally, is your data secure from access? This is the real weak link: ultimately the apartment's landlord controls who gets access to that sheet, and there's nothing really stopping them from sharing it with their cousin, their friends or the world. However, this will be the case no matter how you provide the data, whether it's by Sheets, fax or photocopy.

All that said, in your shoes I would still probably push back and state that I will happily show ID on arrival. This worked fine for me when we rented an apartment in Lisbon for a short stay last year, they just copied the IDs on the spot. The images still likely ended up in Google/Apple Photos, which is not great, but still preferable to having them sitting around in a juicy sheet full of everybody's else IDs, which could be easily downloaded and sold off in bulk.

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    Since Portugal is in the EU, you should also address GDPR. Google Docs is not automatically compliant, so this is a concern. Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 22:35
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    @FedericoPoloni Nothing is "automatically compliant", ultimately it's always the data processor's responsibility, but Docs will keep data in the EU if they choose an EU region. cloud.google.com/privacy/gdpr Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 22:46

In order to let property in Portugal to paying guests, all premises must be licensed under the terms of an ‘Alojamento Local’. Property owners and licence holders are required to comply with the conditions of the Alojamento Local. This includes a requirement to record the entry, exit and identification details of all non-Portuguese nationals staying having paid for accommodation, within 3 days after they arrive and 3 days after they leave. Failure to comply with the regulations can result in significant fines and penalties.

However, you should be offered a secure means to provide this data. https://www.safecommunitiesportugal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Local-Lodging-seminar-SEF-presentation-21st-April-2015.pdf If I were you I would ask the owner to confirm how the Google sheet process provides you with security.

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    Thanks, I've asked for a more secure method, or for a description of security of the current method
    – Jessica
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 12:56
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    In what way is google sheets insecure?
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 10:54
  • @Tim I don't remember the exact terminology, but basically Google Sheets (and many similar products from other vendors) can have access any of several different methods: anyone with the link, on request (i.e., if you don't already have accessed, Google will send a message to the owner asking if you should be allowed in), specific Google accounts. The problem is that your typical non-IT user may not understand the difference. In particular, they might open to everyone with the link to avoid having to find out from each potential customer what Google account they have. Very, very common problem. Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 16:59
  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact the link is long and random, so that’s not insecure.
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 17:39
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    How is the average ‘person in the street’ who doesn’t work in IT and/or has never used or possibly never even heard of Google Sheets, supposed to know whether it is secure or not? Blind trust simply because it’s Google?
    – Traveller
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 20:58

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