I was walking in Colombia in a street in Bogota when I got stopped by a policewoman. She asked me for my travel documents. I only had my drivers licence with me because I don't like taking my passport everywhere, in case something happens. She seemed to accept my explanation and let me go.

So I'm asking how often this happens, is it normal? I've been in Bogota three months and this is the first time it happened to me. Also since I will be visiting other countries in South America does this happen there as well? And is it in fact better to carry my passport with me all the time then?

  • I've been in Peru seven weeks and have seen a lot of policemen. Some of them have had lots of questions about my folding bicycle, but none of them have asked me for any form of ID. However, many times when buying something, I have had to put my passport number on a copy of the receipt. And both hostels I stayed at made copies of my passport (that's because Peruvians have to pay an extra tax and the copy is their defense if they get accused of failing to collect it).
    – WGroleau
    Feb 27, 2016 at 5:38

1 Answer 1


Many countries of the world have laws about carrying ID and the rights of police to check those IDs. Many of those laws also specify that a passport is the only acceptable foreign ID for non-residents. The frequency of which these checks are conducted varies from country to country, city to city, district to district, police officer to police officer.

It is a good idea when traveling overseas to have at least a copy of your passport with you at all times. I scanned the front page of my passport, printed out a credit card size, color copy and laminated it. It travels in my wallet all the time.

While it does not legally satisfy the carry your passport laws, it does satisfy most people who check ID from time to time, police, hotels, etc.

  • 1
    It's also worth noting that these requests are sometimes part of a scam or an attempt by officials to obtain a bribe from gullible foreigners. I would treat such requests with a good deal of caution in less developed countries.
    – Calchas
    Feb 21, 2016 at 3:56
  • In countries where adults are required to carry ID, routine interactions with the police often involve an ID check as a matter of course. The policewoman might have wondered that you did not fit into the typical traffic in the neighborhood, and decided to question you.
    – o.m.
    Feb 21, 2016 at 10:23
  • @Calchas I was in fact asked for my documents in a separate occasion and told I needed to come with them. But the people were clearly not police so I just walked away. That's also why I need to know how commonly this happens.
    – Niel
    Feb 23, 2016 at 1:10
  • @o.m. that's possible, there was also a lot of police officers on the street that day, maybe they were doing a routine check up.
    – Niel
    Feb 23, 2016 at 1:11

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