People I know IRL sometimes ask me for advice on security/privacy matters. Something that comes up fairly often is "X company just asked for a scan of my passport" - what should I do?

It would be helpful to have an answer here I could point them to. There are some related questions (e.g. this) but I couldn't find an exact match.

I have a feeling that if I ask this, it will be closed as "opinion based" or "too broad". Is it suitable for the site?

FTR, I usually advise people to just send the scan, but maybe I'm being too cavalier.

  • I would ask it because it's a question that many people want an answer too and it's about information security. I myself had this same question after an employer ask for a copy of my passport. Maybe the best answer will be "it's hard to tell because..." but it can give some pointers to people wondering the same thing.
    – Gudradain
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 16:48
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    I have seen a post like this. Either here or on Travel.SE. I'll try and find it
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 21:54
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    For what it's worth, there is a identity-theft tag.
    – Anders
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 21:00
  • For example in germany it is forbidden to create copies of an ID and send them to anyone! But often IDs are requested anyway, but it is in fact chargeable.
    – Artery
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 15:06
  • @Artery - Forbidden even to do that with your own ID?
    – paj28
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 16:10
  • @paj28 Yes, in Germany. But no one cares about that :D never heared about a trial about this
    – Artery
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 16:26
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    @Artery but only the ID card, and not the passport. And there are exceptions for banks, notaries, the police and others. You're not only not allowed to make copies, you are not allowed to give a third person access to your ID card. That means you are also not allowed to use it as a deposit for the locker key at the gym. And you don't own your ID. It makes sense since you don't own it. This is regulated in Personalausweisgesetz and mostly has to do with the digital part of the ID card. However a digital Aufenthaltstitel that works the same does not have this restriction.
    – simbabque
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


From this question: Is this site limited to discussions of electronic security? it would seem like questions regarding security in terms of physical information assets are allowed. A passport has Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in it, and people would be interested in the security aspect of it's transportation.

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    I'm happy at the outcome of that question because of questions like this. Security isn't something you do at a computer, it's a way of life.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 20:03
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    Furthermore "scan of my passport". So it's not physical information anymore. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 14:04

I suggest removing the parts (by taping them before scanning) that are not necessary to match your picture with your name, i.e. the password and serial numbers. Ask the party requesting the password scan about the purpose of this to figure out which parts are essential to them, why they would need them, how they would store the scan and when they would delete it from all their media. Maybe even the picture is not relevant to them or you can have a webcam session showing it to them.

In Germany, there is actually a law that forbids electronically scanning ID cards: the "Personalausweisgesetz" (§ 20 PAuswG). It is only allowed to use a copy machine (basically to "store it on paper"), but the company/person requesting a copy must inform you that you have the right to black out the serial numbers. The copy must be destroyed as soon as its purpose is fulfilled. Find all guidelines summarized here. But you have to know that Germany has the best data protection laws worldwide, so don't be surprised if other countries don't follow this example.

  • 3
    Thanks... could you put this on the main question please
    – paj28
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 7:10

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