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Passports are the key that unlocks international travel.  Treat your passport as a valuable commodity.  Follow our recommendations on passport care to  help avoid losing it during travel.


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Travel Advice - Take good care of your passport                                          

When you are traveling internationally, your passport serves as your official identification document and the key that unlocks airports for international travel. Simply put, no passport, no travel.

When departing from the United States your passport will generally be examined at the check-in gate and, often, at the boarding gate.

  • When you arrive at your international destination, you will be processed into the Arrivals Hall and pass through a passport control area where your passport will be checked and possibly stamped indicating the date that you arrived in the country.
  • In addition, you will be required to fill out a “landing card” that identifies you as a foreign national and requires personal information, including your passport number. The “landing cards” are usually supplied by the airline crew prior to landing.


While abroad, you may be required to present you passport at hotel check-in.

  • You might be asked for your passport when cashing traveler checks at currency exchanges.
  • Finally, if you are on a multi-country trip, every time you fly to  a new  country, you and your passport could go through the departure/arrival scenario described above.

While losing your passport when abroad is not a total disaster, it is a major inconvenience: the only place that you can begin the process to resolve this issue is at a U.S. embassy.

  • Replacement takes time and leads to “heartburn” since you will be spending your vacation time in a non-productive manner.
  • See our article on lost passports and the procedures required to replace them.

Although accidents always happen, you should do your best protect your passport.

  • There are periods during travel when your passport will be examined frequently and this may lead to your casually storing it in a bag or a shirt pocket. In other cases, you may be jet lagged or thinking of something else and simply stuff it in your pocket.
    • These are good ways to loose this valuable document.
  • During travel, the safest place for your passport is zipped and secure in your money belt (see Get money belts and be prepared to use them and Identification security).
  • If you know that you are going to have to show your passport numerous times (e.g. on a travel day) keep it in an inside pocket,  a buttoned or zipped pocket, or in a zipped pocket on your fanny pack.
  • When you are sure that your passport flipping is over, return your passport to the safety of the money belt, artfully hidden beneath your clothing.

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