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In preparing for upcoming international travel, I have read advice to make a copy of my passport and not carry the original when walking around town. Is a copy of the first page enough, or the first page and the entry page, or is a copy of every page needed?

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    Remember that in some countries a copy of your passport will not be enough when walking around and asked for it.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 4:21
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    I've never understood this advice... Where accepts a copy of your passport rather than the original? Nowhere in my experience at least... Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 13:31
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    I've "walked around" in 40+ countries and I have NEVER been asked for my passport. You need it for immigration and sometimes for hotel check in, currency exchange, ID check for trains, mail etc., but I have NEVER encountered a random check. I have an electronic copy of my passport that's stored in offline mode in my phone. No idea if it would be accepted because I never had to use it. My physical passport stays in the hotel safe unless I know I'll be needing it.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 13:54
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    @Hilmar If only hotel safes were safe... You might as well leave it in your suitcase in the room. Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 16:14
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    @Hilmar are you white? I used to work in Geneva and lived just across the border in France, crossing the border twice a day. I was never asked for my passport. My Indian colleague was, regularly. Now technically that's a border crossing so it's a little bit more than just walking around, but the fact that I was never asked for my passport shows you that it's not too much more
    – llama
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 17:07

2 Answers 2

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Having a copy of your passport is a good idea. I've been doing this for decades and it was useful on multiple occasions. By default, I copy the two main pages facing each other. The most important is that it shows the passport number, full name, photo and expiry. My advice is to make more than one copy and store them in two different places, in addition to having the passport stored in a safe place.

There are many countries that require a visa based on my nationality. When I am traveling to any of those, I also copy the page where the visa was printed on. Perhaps for some strict copies you would also copy the entry stamp page but that would be a hassle since you would have to find a place to copy the after you enter the country.

One more copy that is practical to have is a digital copy that is accessible to you online. If for some reason you lose your belongings, you can go to an internet cafe or business center and access you digital copy to print. That way you can almost always manage to have a copy should you need to show it to an embassy or police station.

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    "...passport number, full name, photo and expiry..." And date of birth. If you're visiting a country which imposes age restrictions on purchases or activities (buying alcohol, for instance) then you often need some formal document to prove your age. If you live in that country then your national ID card (if your country has one) will serve that purpose, but if you don't then you need something else. Most servers won't recognise ID cards from other countries, so rather than accept illegal forgeries they will generally refuse service. A passport has a standard format they can recognise.
    – Graham
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 12:05
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    "copy the entry stamp page but that would be a hassle since you would have to find a place to copy the after you enter the country." or take a photo with your phone, assuming you've got one.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 13:34
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For backup purposes, all you need is the photo ID page with your passport number, legal name, expiry date etc. If you lose your passport, a copy of this page is sufficient for making police reports, applying for new passports, etc.

Some people (and, in some countries where required by law, hotels) also copy visas and/or entry stamps for the country to provide additional proof they're in the country legally, but I personally have never bothered to do this: Immigration can easily look up your status as long as they have the details on your passport ID page. YMMV.

I've never needed to copy an entire passport, and about the only use case for doing so would be if you need to prove to somebody afterwards (tax authorities, unusually persnickety visa applications, etc) that you've spent X amount of time outside the country or visited Y countries on Z dates.

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  • Many countries still only rely on passport stamps to determine if you are in the country legally (especially for overstays), including the Schengen Area.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 8:29

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