Protect Your Passport
Your passport is the most valuable document that you will carry abroad. It confirms your U.S. citizenship. Please guard it carefully. Do not use it as collateral for a loan or lend it to anyone. It is your best form of identification. You will need it when you pick up mail or check into hotels, embassies or consulates.
When entering some countries or registering at hotels, you may be asked to fill out a police card listing your name, passport number, destination, local address, and reason for travel. You may be required to leave your passport at the hotel reception desk overnight so that it may be checked by local police officials. These are normal procedures required by local laws. If your passport is not returned the following morning, immediately report the impoundment to local police authorities and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Law enforcement records show that U.S. passports are sometimes used for illegal entry into the United States, or by criminals abroad seeking to establish another identity. This can cause embarrassment to innocent U.S. citizens whose names become associated with illegal activities. To protect the integrity of the U.S. passport and the security of the person bearing it, consular officers overseas have found it necessary to take precautions in processing lost passport cases. These precautions may involve some delay before a new passport is issued.
Safeguard Your Passport
Carelessness is the main cause for losing a passport or having it stolen. You may find that you have to carry your passport with you because you need to show it when you cash traveler’s checks or the country that you are visiting requires you to carry it as an identity document. When you must carry your passport, hide it securely on your person. Do not leave it in a handbag or in an exposed pocket. Whenever possible, leave your passport in the hotel safe, not in an empty hotel room, and not packed in your luggage. One family member should not carry all the passports for the entire family.
Guard Against Thieves
Coat pockets, handbags, and hip pockets are particularly susceptible to theft. Thieves will use all kinds of ploys to divert your attention just long enough to pick your pocket and grab your purse or wallet. These ploys include creating a disturbance, spilling something on your clothing, or even handing you a baby to hold!
You can try to prevent theft by carrying your belongings in a secure manner. For example, consider not carrying a purse or wallet when going along crowded streets.
Women who carry a shoulder bag should keep it tucked under the arm and held securely by the strap. Men should put their wallets in their front trouser pockets or use money belts instead of hip pockets. A wallet wrapped in rubber bands is more difficult to remove without notice. Be especially cautious in a large crowd – in the subway, on buses, at the marketplace, at a festival, or if surrounded by groups of vagrant children. Do not make it easy for thieves!
I always make a color copy of my passport and visa and carry that with me and secure my passport in the hotel safe. Some countries require you to always carry your passport on your person. But, most will not have a problem if you carry a color copy.