Obtaining copies of IDs at checkout

This is sort of a followup to the old thread

I’ve been routinely making copies of guest ids since I started hosting. This is perhaps controversial in the West (at least), but it’s apparently standard practice in India. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to give copies of my ID to people. This is one case where I’ve gone with the flow - I think it’s better to have it than not have it. And we’re hosting total strangers in our home - I figure the more safety the better.

(Oh, and anyone who replies to me to say that I’m a bad person for making copies of IDs will be ignored. Just FYI.)

Anyway, I just had a two day Indian guest, and I forgot to take a copy of his ID. He turned up just as we were finishing dinner, and I had offered him dinner, so I didn’t get around to recording his information till after dinner, and then I forgot to make a copy of his ID.

I just reminded him about it, and I got the following slightly weird message:

Wrt the copy of the ID I’m happy to share it with you if you can help me verify the authorization or the required authentication for your organisation to carry third party IDs. Would be good to also see your privacy policy to understand how you store and manage the captured ID proofs. I hope you can understand my concern with regards to sharing an ID proof without understanding the need/policies. Hope you can help me with the same.

If we are aligned on the clearance for you to hold third party ID proofs, I will be glad to comply with the policy.

Maybe I’m being petty, but I found this a bit irritating. I didn’t even understand half of what he wrote.

Here’s what I have in my listing about this.

The Indian Govt’s Bureau of Immigration (under the Ministry of Home Affairs) requires that people hosting foreigners submit information in a Form C, see (URL HIDDEN) You could also search for “form c foreigner” for further information. I apologise for the inconvenience. However, I’ll have to ask you for passport and travel information on check in. See also https://www.airbnb.co.in/help/responsible-hosting (General Regulations -> Registration of Guests)

Indian citizens need to submit photo and address ids on check in. Alternatively, just an Indian passport will do.

This is under “Other things to note”. I’m wondering if I should add something explicit about this to my House Rules. How about

For security and recordkeeping reasons, I will make photocopies of guest IDs at check-in.

? Suggestions for improvement of wording appreciated.

There’s also an argument for doing nothing. Since this is the first in what Airbnb says is 43 completed trips to make an issue about it. I guess this guy was be number 44.

Though actually some woman from Canada once sent me a message to say that she “hoped I wouldn’t do bad things with her passport copy”. Or something like that - I may have got the wording slightly wrong.

I’d just repeat to him what you already have in your listing. If it’s required by the government and he was informed in advance he shouldn’t have an issue. I’m assuming that his stay is over and you won’t be seeing him again and in this case you need him to send you a copy in order to verify it is indeed him.

I would add the wording about making a copy of the guest ID to your listing for future guests.


Hi @KKC,

Thanks for the thoughts.

I don’t know if the govt actually requires me to make copies of guest IDs. Like I said, it seems to be very common practice in India, but I don’t know if it is something people are required to do vs choosing to do. It’s also quite hard to get sensible answers from Indian bureaucracy.

He’s leaving tomorrow morning. And I’ve got no way to get an ID copy from him if he chooses not to give me one. I suppose I could ask him to leave, but that seems like a pretty drastic thing to do. So if he refuses in person I don’t plan to do anything. I might mention it in a review, but that’s a different issue. The window for asking for ID copies is basically at check-in.

I don’t have any reason to believe he’s a Bad Guy. He does have a Linkedin page, and he doesn’t seem like a dodgy person. I talked to him for awhile yesterday, and I think he’s who he says he is.

Ok. I’ll also make more of a point of getting ID copies at check-in in future.

Hello @faheem,

Do you need actually need to submit a copy of the ID or do you need to complete Form C with information from the ID ? I think most people would feel more comfortable with the later solution.

Regarding your current guest, in many countries, when you keep personal data on file, you have to get an authorization from a regulating agency, I think that’s what your guest is asking for.
Here in France there are exceptions, and luckily registration forms in touristic accomodations are one of the cases where you do not need to get an authorization from the personal data agency. You may want to search for the regulations regarding personal data storage/handling in India.

On the general topic though, I really do not get these guests who make so many difficulties with their ID, I have not travelled much but in all countries I have been, hotels ask for an ID and if you refuse you just are not allowed to check-in.


Hi @Barthelemy,

Form C doesn’t require uploading copies of ID. And Form C doesn’t apply to Indians anyway. It’s for foreigners. The current guest is Indian. Which is part of what makes this puzzling. This practice is so common in India, I’d have thought everyone would be used to it.

There’s no such thing in India, afaik. It’s India - a swirling vortex of chaos. I’ve had copies of my own IDs made by countless people over the years, both in the US and India. If I started asking for “required authentication for your organisation to carry third party IDs” I think people would be extremely puzzled.

Do you agree with @KKC that I should make it explicit in my house rules? I don’t see any reason to stop making copies, though maybe I should think about disposing of the copies. But I don’t currently have a shredder. I used to have one in the US, but I left it there.

I think I’ve told the story about how at my hotel in Tokyo, they asked for our passports at the desk. I had mixed them up, and my own passport was back at my son’s dorm in Kodaira, about 40 minutes away! Luckily they accepted my drivers license. But if it had not have been for that hotel ID requirement, we wouldn’t have ever noticed the passport mix up until we were at the airport about to board our flight home! (My son was living in Tokyo then) Yikes!

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I would add it at the beginning of your house rules and you might even want to say “Confirm in reservation request that you understand the check in policy” or something to that effect.

It’s irritating. Every once in a while I will be questioned about the surveillance cameras. I note it in my house rules and must receive confirmation from guests that they have read them. Interestingly, it seems the younger generation is spooked out by being filmed, and my baby boomer guests don’t seem to take issue. Go figure!

Ok. Does the wording sound reasonable? I’m now routinely writing the following to guests (including the guest being discussed here) when they make reservation requests:

Also, please read my listing carefully, including the house rules, and make sure you are ok with them.

Are cameras an issue, then? And how often? And these are just externally-facing cameras, right?

I would be more specific to tell them they need to confirm they have read the entire listing description, house rules, and ID policy at check in. I don’t know the best way to word the latter.

Yes, only outdoor cameras and it’s not even the entire outside that is on camera. It’s not such an issue that they don’t book, but in general they are more concerned with being filmed and have more questions about it. I can’t even really define it. It may not even be an issue with privacy, but more of an attitude that they paid to stay there and it should be up to them if cameras are there. If that makes sense? Of course they don’t say that but I kind of sense that they feel they paid for a hotel stay, and the older generation understands they are a guest in someone else’s home.

I’ve noted before : in the UK you can’t take photocopies of someone’s ID without permission and then there are very strict rules on how it’s stored (Data Protection Act) and then disposed of. Assuming he’s European he’s probably thinking of that and reasonably doesn’t want you to take copies.

Hotels do take the information but then they also have trained staff and the required secure storage to ensure the data is properly kept and then securely disposed of. Hotels are also process audited in a way that a host on airbnb never will.

I would be unhappy giving you a copy of my personal information but I would be fine with you looking. In all liklihood I wouldn’t book with a host that insisted on this so I think your approach of drawing attention to it at the booking stage is a good one .

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Again, he’s Indian. He did live in Australia for awhile, apparently. No actual Europeans have said anything about it yet. Also, this isn’t the UK.

Um, I’m sure none of this happens here. I can’t speak for other places, but this is India. “trained stuff”? ROTFL. “required secure storage”? Ditto. “securely disposed of”? “process audited”? You get the idea.

Well, this is the first time someone is making an issue of it. It sounds like everyone thinks it’s a good idea to be up front about it, at any rate.

Ok, I’ll think about how to word it better. I don’t know if it’s necessary to specify individual items in the house rules.

I see. At some point, I might get outdoor cameras too. They seem like a good idea. But if people make a fuss about it, that could be a drag.

It’s a pain having to deal with this stuff. It’s not like I make much off this business, either.

But you live on the compound and have a watchman! I wouldn’t bother with cameras then.

Yes those are all reasons why I’d be even less likely to want to give you my personal information :slight_smile:

On a side note never had my ID photocopied anywhere in India… most didn’t even look at it :flushed:
(Didn’t Airbnb on this trip either, it was all hotels).
India was funny… I booked a room with AC, turned up and there was literally a huge hole in the wall with the AC unit pushed against it. LOL.

The watchmen don’t do much. And at night they usually go to sleep on duty. Remember, it’s India. Cameras would definitely be useful here.

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I think your guests questions are fair. I’d be asking the same if someone wanted all my personal information. He’s only asking what you’re going to do with it

@faheem – I haven’t read through all of the posts yet but a thought just occurred. Do you take your guest into an “office” set-up, where you have a desk to fill out the necessary forms, etc.? If so, you could have a little sign on the desk which reads, “Please present your (photo) I.D. upon check-in” which might serve to help you remember to ask for it as well.

P.S. “…India - a swirling vortex of chaos.” Ahh, the beauty of words!

I read your replies, and I still not not understand if you need a photocopy of the ID by law, or that you want to have it for yourself to confirm the data?

I would not allow you to make a copy of my ID, unless I am allowed to make is a safe copy.
When I travel, I carry a set of copies with me. These copies have the social security number blanked, and the purpose for the copy written across them.

This is to prevent ID theft, which is a very common problem.

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Hi @SandyToes,

There is a desk at the entrance where I normally write down people’s information. This time I didn’t use it, because I was just finishing up dinner when this guy arrived (8 pm, after saying he would be coming at 6 pm, then 6.30, then 7ish). And I’d offered him dinner, and I thought he’d like to eat before it got any later. Then after dinner I talked to him in the room.

Thanks for the suggestion of a sign, but I’d probably just mislay it.

I was trying to be more nice and less officious. Next time I’m going to remember that I’m dealing with strangers in my home, and go for more officious and less nice. I’m also going to remember that I’m Indian and embrace my culture’s tradition of rampant and out of control bureaucracy.

Oh, and do you agree with the others that I should put an explicit line in my house rules about making a photocopy of IDs?

@faheem – I’m not sure how to answer your question about whether you should add the requirement for a photocopy of the guest’s I.D. to your house rules. As a practical matter, you can include it as a line item as well as any other rule you want to impose and hope it induces compliance by the guest. (Ex.: “Guest must enter the abode by hopping on one leg over the threshold.”)

However, since you indicated that you have no intention of imposing a sanction for noncompliance ("…if he refuses in person I don’t plan to do anything"), then what is the strength in it.

I gather the requirement of I.D. copies is pro forma to your practice basically because it was something that was required of you. You are not aware of any actual governmental requirement for it and yet, you do not want to discontinue the practice because you “see no reason to stop”.

Then, why the vacillation…just add it to your house rules and be done with it.