A few years back I took a trip from Australia to Europe. I flew with China Southern and I had a stop over in Guangzhou. I am an Australian UK dual national.

Out bound trip was fine, but on my way back, while I was waiting in the terminal at Guangzhou for my final leg, a Chinese person who I assumed was some kind of airport/airline employee (by the way they were dressed) approached me and asked to see my passports (plural). They then used a smart phone to photograph both of the detail pages.

I thought it was a bit odd at the time, but just went along with it because they seemed legit.

Why would this happen? Has anyone else experienced this?

It may have something to do with the passport I used to pass through Chinese transit, but I'm pretty sure I used my Australian passport at Guangzhou both times I was there.

Two more questions, possibly not answerable. How did they find me? The person seemed to know who I was when they approached me, i.e. they weren't randomly asking people if they were dual nationals. How did they know I had two passports (assuming I used only my Australian passport in China)?

Note: This did happen about 3 years ago, so my memory might be a little sketchy on the exact details.

  • 1
    During the present temporary border checks from Denmark to Sweden, Swedish transport companies take photos of identity cards so they can prove to Swedish authorities they did their duty.
    – gerrit
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 10:29
  • That does indeed seem odd. Which passport(s) did you present where during your trip, and what information did you provide for APIN (when you bought the ticket)? Maybe you provided info about one passport, and then used the other, so they wanted to be sure they had the passport matching the details you had entered? Usually this is sorted out at check-in (or first boarding if you do online check-in and have no hold luggage), but maybe they missed it at that point and corrected it during the connection.
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 12:04
  • Sounds like identity theft to me, if I were you I'd cancel your passport right away and get a new one (if you still have the same passport, and assuming that this was identity theft). Always ask for official ID if someone randomly approaches you and asks for your passport; if they can't produce, refuse.
    – AStopher
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


Such a person would not get to photograph my (sole) passport in that manner.
I'd want to know who they were, and would probably ask them to take me to an official point of contact OR suggest that they come with me to the airline's help desk.

While it may well be legitimate I have never experienced anything like this in dozens of flight to, from and in China so would want to know that I was not facilitating identity theft or some other such unofficial behaviour.

That said, not annoying people who do have a right to do something and who may have right of 'fly or stay" over you, is always a good idea and no less so in China.

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