Never, ever, leave your passport as a guarantee…

In the midst of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and the discovery that at least two passengers boarded using passports that had been stolen in Phuket, I think it is worth reminding that you should never, ever, leave your passport as a guarantee.

It’s common practice in Phuket, when you rent a car or a motorbike, for the renter to ask you to leave your passport as a guarantee. If this happens to you, and the renter insists, just walk out the door and find another one. Even if it’s a bit more expensive or you have to leave money as guarantee, the trouble of losing your passport is not worth the risk.

Besides, it is illegal, both for the renter to keep your passport and for you to leave it with them. Something that people usually overlook is that your passport does not belong to you, it belongs to your country’s authorities and handing it over to a third party is an offence.

Here are few rules for keeping your passport safe when you travel:

  • Never leave your passport with anyone, just like you wouldn’t do with your credit card.
  • Make a photocopy, keep that photocopy with you at all times and leave your passport in the hotel’s safe.
  • Stick a note inside your passport, with multiple ways to contact you (mobile phone, email, hotel’s name) and offer a reward if the passport is found.

Image Credits: Lena LeRay

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