Guest house

US tourist taken hostage in Iceland by guesthouse host

Whether your travel skills are rusty after The Cough That Stopped the Globe or you’re entirely new to the game, there are a lot of mistakes you want to avoid making when checking in at foreign residences.

One of them is not fooled to hand over your passport to anyone who may later hold it on you.

From the Netflix hit The Serpent (which, based on a true story, shows an international gem smuggler holding backpackers hostage with this exact trick, and has been described as “porn murder in premium packaging“) to Airbnb Frequently Asked Questions page, where users are debating, what exactly is the standard, when it comes to what hosts may ask of you, this is an issue that has been discussed many times.

But that’s a topic for another day.

You are here for a story that shows why you should think twice before handing your passport to your guesthouse host. And TikTok user Sara’s sites just has the tale.

Sara, who is a travel blogger from Rochester, NY, took to TikTok to share a clip of when she claims to have been briefly “held hostage” in Iceland, along with her friend, by the lady who ran a guest house they were staying at. .

Fortunately, they had not given their passports to the lady. But their story always shows why you really want to avoid putting them back whenever you can.

Watch the video below

“We stayed at his guesthouse for free in exchange for help around the house.”

“We did everything she asked of us and after a few days we started to notice her strange behavior.”

“The next morning we packed our bags and when we tried to leave she didn’t leave us.”

“She accused us of stealing her red sweater and demanded to see our passports.

“Then she stood in front of the door and refused to let us go.”

They call someone else at the guesthouse for help and then a discussion can be heard where they debate what the deal was in the first place with the host.

The host accuses them of having simply changed their minds about wanting to stay there, before the video ends with the phrase “the police came and let us go almost immediately.”

Sights Of Sara wrote in TikTok’s comments, “We’re going to call Booking.com and report her so no one has to go through this as well.”

History shows how important it is to keep crucial documents like your passport with you, and not with your host, so that you can vacate accommodation at any time if you need to.

As one TikTok user wrote in the comments section: “Glad you didn’t give him your passports. PSA: NEVER give your passport to anyone. “

Another user wrote: “I wanted to go to Iceland, but I’m so scared to stay anywhere because all the places kinda seem like this.

In response, Sights Of Sara wrote, “Honestly, it’s really safe. It was just a bad one.

Another user claimed that a “similar situation happened to me in France during my studies abroad”.

Yet another user asked, “What’s up with Instagram? What Sights Of Sara wrote to: “She wanted us to help create an Instagram, but since we left early, we didn’t.”

The Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs advises, in the section of its page dedicated to: “What if a tour operator wishes to keep my passport?” “, what follows :

“Cruise lines and hotels in some parts of the international travel industry have a habit of holding their customers’ passports. If you have any concerns, raise them if possible before confirming your reservation. You may be able to explore options such as providing a copy or scan instead of handing over your Australian passport.

As for Airbnb, this Community Center the page is informative.

An Airbnb user asks the following questions:

“Hi! I have used Airbnb several times and this is the first time my host has asked me for the passport copies. I am staying in Portugal and she said it was to pay taxes. I was wary of this information of his request because I was always speaking to my host in Portuguese and this message was sent in English.

“Does anyone know if it is common to ask for passport information in Portugal?” And is it safe to provide this information? “

The following response has been marked as “accepted solution” by Airbnb.

“In Germany there is a law (Bundesmeldegesetz) which requires the following information from all customers – whether they are simply tourists or on a business trip – for all accommodation such as hotels, guesthouses, campgrounds, vacation apartments and also rooms inside houses:

  • full name and surname
  • Home Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Nationality
  • passport number

A copy of the passport cannot be taken from the host, if the guest agrees, but the host has the right and obligation to verify the passport and verify the number against the original document. After a year, all of this information should be shredded.

I know there are Airbnbs and other private hosts that don’t enforce this law, but if they are vetted they have to pay huge fines and they can also be banned from renting their space.

I am not involved in the laws of other European countries, but I could imagine that similar laws exist in either country.

Traveler has already answered a similar question. In an article titled: “Should You Be Careful When Providing Passport Details to Airbnb Hosts?” they write, “The most common reason Airbnb travelers are asked to provide photo ID is when a host requires it.”

“As a guest you can stay with someone or near their accommodation. “

“It makes perfect sense that your host would want positive identification and assurance that their guests have provided photo identification.”

Traveler adds: “Airbnb already has your credit card details, but that does not guarantee that the person who shows up at the door is the same as the person who made the reservation, and Airbnb is only acting to protect the person and the property of its guests.

The author of the article also shares: “As a frequent Airbnb user, I provided photo ID myself.”

“There is no such thing as totally bulletproof personal data and I would be more inclined to provide my license than my passport.”

Basically, however, it’s always better to provide a copy rather than the real thing when you can. And it’s best not to hand over your passport at all, if you can avoid it.

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