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Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/21 01:54
I've visited Japan many times, and every single (regular) hotel has asked me for a photocopy of my passport at check-in. I always complied like a well-behaving visitor, because I've always thought hotels are required by law to take a photocopy.

Lately I've read some forumposts elsewhere, and some articles, where it was indicated that hotels (by law at least) only need to *verify* a visitor's ID, and take the passport number. I don't know if that's true, but it seems more legit, somehow.

Obviously, if I can help it, I want as few people as possible to take a photocopy of my passport. It's a genuine security risk, even in Japan. Because:

1) They usually walk away to the back with my passport, doing I-don't-know-what with it
2) Their copy could be misused in some way by staff
3) Their copy could be stolen, or "lost", and misused
4) I dare not to think of other bad stuff

But herein lies the dilemma. Can I deny them a photocopy without them denying me the room? I mean, they always ask so nicely, so why wouldn't I say no? So to prevent them photocopying my passport:

1) Can I safely demand that they merely verify my passport, and note down the number?
2) Could I bring anonimized photocopies along, and hand them out as needed?
3) Should I print out the part of Japanese Law that says the above, assuming all of that is true, and show them that, in order to attempt to make them comply?

Ultimately: how can I make sure they don't deny me the room, *and* they don't copy my passport?
by thany  

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/21 11:07
As someone that has spent many times arguing with hotel BS over ID as a resident, I can provide some information.
Can I deny them a photocopy
Practically, as a non-resident, no. And, while quoting the "law" might make you feel better, the actual "copy of a passport" is not a law, but a regulation. I found an obscure reference and article on this a few years back. Hotels are required to keep records of their non-Japanese resident guests, and "officials" can make up all sorts of regulations that never get near a law-maker or the courts.
Also, not all hotels/inns require it. Some simply need to know who you are and seek ID to make a verification. Other places scan the passport to get an electronic copy. I have also had the "it is hotel policy" and while that is not grounds to deny a room/booking, it can be very difficult to get around when the check-in staff are the ones with the room key, not you (in one instance/hotel, I am listed in their computer system as a "special exemption", probably a "pita", after I wrote to them and formally complained about their illegal requests - but I am resident, so different rules apply.)
What you can do is make a photocopy ahead of time and tape over the information at the bottom of the photo page (with some of the numbers/letters) if that makes you feel better (I have had someone do that before).
However, as a wider issue, while you might have all sorts of concerns about the information in your passport falling in the wrong hands, today's modern biometric passports are only really useful if they are intact and present. ID theft can be done pretty easily for those that want to impersonate you - for example tracing you back through this forum and the internet turns up far more information than most people think possible.
Also, the issues of privacy and personal information are treated a bit differently here in Japan than some other countries. While there might be laws against taking photos of people on the street, that does not stop Japan Post (as an example) wanting me to tell them everyone living in my apartment so they can provide a better service.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/21 11:12
According to what I could look up, in accordance with the Hotel/Ryokan Business Implementation Rules (revised and went into effect as of April 1, 2005), hotels are required to ensure that “non-Japanese guests who do not reside in Japan need to state their nationality and passport number in the guestbook/record when they stay in a ryokan/hotel.”

And further, “in order to ensure the accuracy of what is provided in the guest book/record, those who need to fill out their nationality and passport number are requested to allow the hotel to take and retain a copy of the passport; cooperation is requested.”

So… since the second part is “ a request,” if you really want to avoid giving them a copy, then (1) you fill out the guest form with the nationality & passport number, then show the passport to let them verify the name & number (at times some handwriting might not look too obvious to hotel staff), or (2) you show them your passport, and let them jot down the name (usual), nationality, and passport number, that might suffice (strictly speaking). But they would be so used to the “copying the passport” custom that some might resist.

Personally I believe it is a law that should be revised once again, for privacy and data breach consideration.
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/21 11:39
Dont travel in a country that you dissagree with its regulations.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/21 11:55
hotels also have a right to choose their guests.
if they request illegal matters, you can refuse it..
Japan is different from other countries, where waiters and porters etc. are not sufficiently paid and they live by customer's tip.
by ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/22 07:50
hotels also have a right to choose their guests
Actually, under Japanese law, that is not correct. The ability of an inn or hotel to deny a guest are very limited.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/25 05:16
Thanks all for your replies.

@JapanCustomTours
You're right that biometric passports make photocopying less advantageous for identity theft. But bear in mind, someone after identity theft might be able to get away with it for a while. Also, the biometrics in my passport prove my identity, but the absence of biometrics in their illicit passport do not *disprove* their identity.

As for taking my own photocopies, I think I'll do that and censor the information that could lead to such activities. And if I'm going to tagged as a "pita", well, I don't care. And since it's really hard for a hotel to deny a guest their room, as you stated in a later reply, booking through an intermediary like booking.com ensures that I can keep making reservations with or without such tag :)

@AK
Your reply appears to get to roughly the same conclusion, where it's strictly not compulsory for hotels to make a photocopy. I guess it then depends on the hotel whether they keep their foot down, or give in to my answer to their photocopy request. It probably can't hurt to try, as they won't throw me out straight away when I say "sorry, rather not". I will remain polite, of course, as best I can.

@ken
If my reservation is confirmed, it's final. How could it not be. And it doesn't matter if a confirmation is automated.
by thany rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/25 15:50
hotels have policies which all guests must follow.
第三者に迷惑・不利益を与える等のご行為、弊社のサービスに支障をきたすおそれのあるご行為等、当ホテルが不適当と判断するご行為をおこなわれるお客様には、本システムおよび当ホテルのご利用をお断りする場合があります。
if you argue against their policy about collecting your information, for example, in front of the registration desk. and disturb their jobs and cause delaying other guests' paperwork, they have a right to refuse your stay.
by ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/25 18:29
Leave your paranoia at home and just let them take a photocopy of your passport. It really is no big deal.

>>”And if I'm going to tagged as a "pita", well, I don't care.”<<

That’s about as ‘un-Japanese’ an attitude as I can imagine. I hope you enjoy your time in Japan, but with that attitude ……
by tt7 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/27 04:37
@ken @JapanCustomTours
Your replies appear to be conflicting one another. Who's right?
Can you perhaps link to a legal source where it says what either of you are claiming? I think it would be beneficial to not to leave this "in the middle". Pasting in Japanese text might seem genuine, but without a legal source, it could be anything. With all due respect.

@tt7
> That’s about as ‘un-Japanese’ an attitude as I can imagine.

Apart from this being beside the point entirely, it isn't really. I'm not disturbing their work any more than when I come down and ask for a towel, have them keep my luggage after checkout, or ask for directions to the nearest post office. Anything beyond the standard checkin procedure is not neccesarily being disruptive of their work or other customers' checkin.

In short, saying no to a yes/no question is not un-Japanese. It's just answering their question. The issue here is figuring out how to behave when having to say no, which is as 'Japanese' an attitude as I can imagine.

> I hope you enjoy your time in Japan, but with that attitude ……

And I will enjoy may stay in Japan, thank you very much, and with as much of a Japanese attitude as I can muster.
by thany rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/27 07:03
The Hotel Business Act takes precedence over any hotel policy. A copy (with translation) is available at:
http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=3272&vm=&re=02
Article (5) sets out the limited cases as listed (and they are pretty limited):
Article 5 A hotelier must not deny a person lodging except in a case falling under one of the following items:
一 宿泊しようとする者が伝染性の疾病にかかつていると明らかに認められるとき。
(i) it is evident that the person seeking lodging has an infectious disease;
二 宿泊しようとする者がとばく、その他の違法行為又は風紀を乱す行為をする虞があると認められるとき。
(ii) it appears likely that the person seeking lodging would gamble or engage in other unlawful activities, or would take part in activities injurious to public morals;
三 宿泊施設に余裕がないときその他都道府県が条例で定める事由があるとき。
(iii) a hotelier is not in a position to accommodate the person in its lodging facilities, or there are other grounds that the prefecture prescribes by ordinance.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/27 11:15
You worry about identity theft
by receptionist or other staff, but this is not common in Japan, it is not zero possibility though. And I don't know your nationality but I remind you attacting something on your passport is not allowed in many countries unless official person such as immigration staff.
by emileang (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/28 07:16
@emileang - they are not attaching something to their passport for when it is being used as a passport (i.e. for travel), but for a different purpose.
In any case, for identity theft, they should be more worried about their credit card imprint (for hotel charges) or when they did their booking in the first place.
Given the large number of privacy breaches over the last decade, if they don't have some identity details leaked somewhere, that would be surprising. This year I've had StarAlliance, last year it was Marriot, and the Sony release wasn't that long ago. Equifax anyone?
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/28 11:00
Just ignore posts by someone loves conflict and always try to write pointless things. The illegal guests cannot be refuse d to stay, but hotels have right to call poice, and once it is done your actual room to sleep might be a cell in a poice station.
by mamoru (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/28 11:02
What AK and ken are true.
by mamoru (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/28 12:19
Hi thany,
As mentiond by some people, simply follow the law or travel another countries if you are not happy with local people and local rules . Refusing requred formality for check in just because you want your personal info hiddn in order to make troubles smaller when your credit card number was stolen is selfish. You can find booking services and hotels that accept another ways apart from credit card.

When I had a small peace of sticky paper with e ticket number which was removable on front cover of my passport (i fogot to remove it ), Japan immigration warned me only official person can attach or wright something (e.g. stecker related to sepurity check, visa stuff). So I just making your passport with a photo copy tape over it is not a good option. My Japan friend who works for a hotel also tells me they might doubt me as though I use a fake passport if I try to show only a part that hotel/the law needs, she said hotel check not only things requred with the law but also whether passport is genuine or not due to instruction by neaby police.
by emileang (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/4/30 20:23
Personally, I'm not worried at all. In the last several years, I easily checked into over 250 hotels all over the world, majority of them were in Japan. So far no sign of trouble. Besides, realistically what one can possibly do with info obtained from photocopy of my passport. Those info are nowhere near enough for anyone to become me and steal anything from me.
by Sitti01 rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/5/9 05:43
Can you perhaps link to a legal source where it says what either of you are claiming? I think it would be beneficial to not to leave this "in the middle". Pasting in Japanese text might seem genuine, but without a legal source, it could be anything. With all due respect.
by ashishkumarji rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/5/9 07:00
@ashishkumarji
It is not in the middle. I referenced the official legislation relating to this topic. If you are not happy with that, then that becomes your problem.
Further, I have seen this quoted by some hotels in Japan (referencing the legislation), and it has also been written about in the print media (as a topic that comes up from time to time).
Also, like all topics here, it is just an internet forum and I regularly advise people to get proper, paid advice on various technical topics. It is a topic I am familiar with from a professional standpoint, like many other issues in the tourism industry and in running a business in Japan. However, this is hardly a life make-or-break subject when passport copies are taken millions of times every month (pre-covid) with only a few issues.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Passport photocopy at the hotel 2021/5/9 08:39
Here it is.

https://www.mhlw.go.jp/topics/2005/03/tp0317-1.html
3.  旅券の写しの保存について
 今般の改正に伴う厚生労働省健康局長通知により、宿泊者名簿の記載の正確を期するため、国籍及び旅券番号を記載していただく宿泊者の方については、その方の旅券の写しの保存をお願いしておりますので、御理解と御協力をお願いいたします。
by Tai (guest) rate this post as useful

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