Recently, one of my clients asked whether it was absolutely necessary for him to carry his passport on holiday travel to Dubai.
He reasoned that being his travel agent, I had a scanned copy of his “bio” and “occupation pages” of his passport – details that are required by airlines, hotels and embassy officials in the case of visa application. — so why should he risk losing the physical copy by carrying it along on holiday?
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In this age of technology — satellites, tracking devices and drones — travellers around the world can be tracked and their identities verified at the click of a button, but passports are still needed for international travel. No airport in the world will allow a traveller onto an international flight without a valid passport.
Your passport is the most reliable form of identification for airlines, airport authorities and immigration officials. The “bio page” of a passport provides the correct holder’s name, passport number, the date of expiry and nationality.
When booking a ticket, you must give names matching those on the passport. If they do not match, then the airline will not allow you to board the plane. Changing the name on your ticket at check-in can prove to be very expensive or in some cases impossible.
Besides your name, the nationality indicated on your passport comes in handy when booking accommodation in countries with hotels that have different rates for residents and non-residents.
On check-in, the hotel will require to see your passport as proof that the money paid beforehand for the hotel room was paid using the correct nationality rate. If you don’t, you can be charged with fraud since non-resident rates are usually higher than resident rates.
Further, your nationality also alerts the travel agent if you will require a visa for the destination or in some instances, transit visa if going through certain airports.
A visitor-in-transit-visa is always necessary especially if you will need to leave the main airport building for any reason.
Also ensure that your passport has a minimum of two empty pages for border control officials to put the necessary entry and exit stamps.
Here is why you need to provide your passport copies whenever your travel agent asks for it, and also have it with you during all your travels.