Riding overseas can be great fun, but are you covered if you get into an accident?
Your passport is your most valuable item while you’re travelling. Without one, you could end up stranded in a foreign country.
An Australian passport allows you to travel to 169 countries without the need to apply for a tourist visa. While this is great news for Australian tourists, it unfortunately means Australian passports are in high demand and valued at up to several thousand dollars on the black market^.
A great holiday can quickly turn into a nightmare if your passport is lost, damaged or stolen, so it’s important to be proactive about its security and safety.
Here are our top tips for safeguarding your passport while travelling:
1) Keep two (or more) copies of all your passport information
Before you even get on a plane or cruise ship, scan or make photocopies of the passport page which has your photo and full name on it.
Keep these copies stored separately in different locations such as your money belt, carry bag and suitcase.
It’s also a good idea to take extra copies of your passport photos if you have them. These will come in handy if you need to replace your passport while travelling.
2) Keep your passport secure in a moneybelt
A money belt provides a secure, discreet means of keeping your passport on you.
When travelling, it’s important to have your passport secure, and in many cases you’ll need to have your passport on you and easily accessible at the same time. For example, when you’re going through an airport you may have to show your passport multiple times. A money belt gives you security and also means your passport is within reach.
A money belt is a far safer means of travelling with your passport than simply placing your passport in a carry-bag. Bag-snatching can happen in any country - your passport could be speeding away in the hands of an opportunistic thief on a motorbike if you’re not careful.
3) Lock the passport up when not in use
If you’re exploring a new city for a day or going to do an activity like scuba diving, a hike or something more adventurous, it can sometimes be riskier to keep your passport on you. There’s a chance you could be pickpocketed or lose the money belt or bag holding your passport.
When you’re going out for a day, it can be safer to keep your passport in the safe of your accommodation, or ask the hostel or hotel staff to put your passport in their safe. If you’re in an AirBnB and there’s no safe, then consider taking precautions such as keeping your passport on your person while you’re out, or if your accommodation is secure, keep your passport in a locked bag and secure the bag in your room, such as in a locked closet.
4) Never give your passport to a vendor
In some countries, when you’re booking a tour or hiring a motorbike, the vendor may ask for your passport as a security measure. Never hand your passport to a vendor like this, as you can’t be sure of your passport’s security. You can of course give them one of the copies of your passport if they require it, or ask the vendor to make a photocopy themselves.
5) Protect your passport from weather
Many travellers know they need to protect their passport from theft, but weather damage can also make your passport invalid and you’ll need a replacement.
Humidity and water can harm the pages of your passport. You can travel with a waterproof cover over your passport to better protect it and make sure you store it in a dry, safe environment. Having it squashed at the bottom of your luggage may result in damage to the passport.
6) Complete the details section in your passport
In your passport there’s a page where you can write your personal and emergency contact information. Completing this section with your current details could mean you’ll get your passport back in the event you lose it or your belongings are stolen and your passport discarded.
Fast Tip: Write your contact details in pencil so you can change them if your details change.
7) Know where your passport is at all times
Your passport is the most precious item you have with you when you’re travelling overseas. Whether you keep your passport in your handbag, money belt, pocket, hotel safe, overnight bag or luggage, make sure you know where it is at all times.
8) Use registered post to mail your passport for visa applications
To obtain a visa for some countries you may need to post your passport to an embassy along with your application.
It’s best to use a postal method that’s registered so you can track the delivery. Send a prepaid self-addressed envelope with your passport to ensure the correct return address and it can also be tracked.
If your name changes before your passport expires, you can continue using it. But book your flights, hotel accommodation and tours in the name on your passport to avoid any confusion.
Australian Passport Security Features
The Australian government also wants to keep your passport safe to combat crime, fraud, terrorism and maintain our national security. They released the P series e-Passport in 2014 with heightened security features, specialist paper and printed using the same technologies as Australia’s polymer banknotes.
10 key security features of an Australian Passport
- The Commonwealth Coat of Arms and the word “Australia” is hot stamped in gold foil on the cover.
- Information is shown across two pages to make it more difficult to make alterations
- Very high print resolution has been increased
- Printing in five colours instead of the original two
- The document number has been increased to nine characters from eight characters
- Exposed stitching on the passport chip page which shuts down the chip if tampered with
- The passport chip has protection against unauthorised remote access
- Specialist paper is used for all pages
- A security laminate is applied to the biographical page that includes holographic kangaroos that appear to float above the page.
- Under a UV light, the kangaroos also change colours.
Did you know
Under Australian Passports Act 2005 it is an offence to alter your passport in anyway or to allow anyone else to use it.
What do you do if you lose your passport?
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must report it without delay to:
- Online at the Australian Passport Office or
- Phone the Australian Passport Information Service (APIS) on 131 232. or
- To your nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission
More information can be found at the Australian Passport Office.
Travel insurance for your passport
Your passport may be covered by travel insurance. If it is, that means you can be covered for the costs of replacing a lost, stolen or damaged passport. There will be exclusions to every travel insurance policy, so it’s important to read the terms and conditions of your policy.
If your passport is stolen or lost, you’ll need to make sure you have a police report detailing the theft or its loss, so ensure you report it within 24 hours.
The travel insurance emergency assistance team will be able to give you advice while you’re travelling if something happens to your passport. Make sure you have the emergency assistance team’s phone number on hand in case there’s an emergency.
Your passport is essential to your travels – so it’s important to know how to keep it safe and secure. Always be aware of where your passport is, and how it’s being protected. Losing your passport, or having it stolen or damaged can derail any great holiday and cause unnecessary stress.