What Document Copies To Carry & Where To Carry Them While Travelling

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02/09/2009 – What Document Copies To Carry & Where To Carry Them While Travelling

There are some questions I am asked on a regular basis and some of these questions for whatever reason have never been addressed on Flying With Fish. With this in mind, a regular question I am asked by not only photographers, but by leisure travellers and business travellers are what documents should they keep copies of when they travel?

I have broken this down simply to the three most commonly types of document copies I am asked about and how they should be dealt with when travelling

Passport : Travelling with a photocopy of your passport is an absolute must. In fact a copy of your passport is so important I fly with two of them!  While you cannot enter or exit a country with a copy of your passport, it important to have should you lose your passport when travelling internationally. While there is really no ‘good scenario’ to losing your passport on the road, having a copy can speed up the process for having a local embassy or consulate assist in the delivery of a replacement passport.  Your identity is extremely important when travelling internationally.   I keep a photocopy of my passport’s ‘identity page’ in my wallet as well as in my primary travel bag.  My passport its self is almost always kept on me at all times in a hard to access pocket, generally in a waterproof sleeve, but it is better to plan for the worst rather than assume everything will go smoothly.

Credit cards/Bank cards: Do NOT carry photocopies of your credit cards or bankcards when travelling.  Having photocopies of your credit cards/bank cards simply increases your chances of someone being able to steal from you on the road.   While I strongly advise against carry photocopies of your credit cards/bank cards, I do suggest having these numbers in a secure place.   It is best to store this information, along with your bank phone number, somewhere on your Blackberry or iPhone (there are Apps for this) so you can quickly  contact your bank should you lose your cards.   When storing your credit card/bank card information,  ONLY store the bank name, type of card, card number and bank phone number. Never store your expiration dates or card security numbers.   My card info is stored on my Blackberry and on my laptop in files named in such a way that should anyone snag my laptop or Blackberry they cannot readily find this information

Serial numbers : If you are a photographer, videographer or business traveller it is always suggested you carry critical serial numbers for your equipment. Having serial numbers is ideal should an item become lost or stolen and you need to file an insurance claim. Additionally being able to produce a list of my serial numbers has proven handy on two occasions when travelling with extensive electronics and being questioned by US Customs upon reentry into the United States.

So there you go…quick simple answers to three commonly asked questions about what info to carry, or not carry, while travelling.

Happy Flying!


  1. Very useful pieces of information. I’ve never lost my passport, but you never know if/when it’s gonna happen. Have already read that one should carry only the passport copy and leave original document in room safe, but I doubt if the copy would suffice in case police or some other public official requires you to present the document.

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