I started working at a new company, where they asked me to bring a copy of my passport for them to keep. I have worked for many other big companies but they never ask for such document.

I should mention that I was born and raised in the country where the company that I applied to is located, so why do they ask me that document?

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    Did your employer give a reason? Is your passport needed as proof of citizenship? – Jay Jul 1 '19 at 13:21
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    Where is this company located? In the United States, an employer is required to complete an I-9 for employment verification. There are several combinations of documents that would be valid, but a passport is the easiest. Although I've always been required to provide the actual passport and not an image or copy previously made. – Thomas Owens Jul 1 '19 at 13:23
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    Can you add country tag? And did your job description had something about travelling? – SZCZERZO KŁY Jul 1 '19 at 13:23
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    (UK here so not sure how applicable) It's a pretty standard practice to be required to take a passport in when starting in a new company, even for temp jobs. I have been asked for pretty much ever position I've been in, including internships and work experience. It's just to prove that you are who you say you are. If there is an issue with being able to provide a passport (for you personally) just ask if they accept any other forms of ID. – Gamora Jul 1 '19 at 13:31
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    Are they asking for a copy of your passport, or do they want to hold on to your original physical passport? The difference is very important, as a copy can't be used to keep you in the country. – David K Jul 1 '19 at 14:28

The best thing to do is provide your passport and ask why it is needed. You'll get the most accurate answer from the company itself.

Your passport is likely being used as proof of citizenship (regardless of whether you are a citizen or not) but there are many reasons a company may need it - all related to security:

1. In order to give you or renew a security badge. Commonly your citizenship status is recorded as part of the badging process for companies working on sensitive or government-related projects.

2. To comply with internal/client/government record-keeping requirements. If a company is concerned with security, it may ask for additional forms of ID from employees to keep on record. This requirement may be strictly internal, or may be because of government or client requirements.

3. In preparation for a background check. Your passport is an exceptionally reliable form of identification. Some background-checking agencies prefer a passport number to other forms of ID to use as a reference when looking at less reliable records.

4. To comply with government immigration reporting requirements. If you are not a citizen of the country you are working in, your company likely needs to report your work activities to comply with immigration rules. This reporting may include your passport information.

  • Thank you, I will ask them directly and then share it here again. – user106365 Jul 1 '19 at 13:35
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    Please note there are countries where copying a passwort is not legal. I suggest to find out what is the case in your country, just in case you could get a problem with this. – puck Jul 1 '19 at 14:55
  • Thanks @puck, I will ask for it. – user106365 Jul 1 '19 at 15:29
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    Literately all 4 points are common practice in the EU.( but most of the times a simple ID number/passport number is enough) – GittingGud Jul 2 '19 at 5:49
  • They should be able to accept other proof of identity documents in the event an employee doesn’t have a passport, though it probably makes it easier on their end to just get the passport. – AffableAmbler Jul 3 '19 at 15:05

Do not let them take your original passport out of your sight.

Good answers about the reasoning, but there is one very important thing to remember. They should never be allowed to remove your passport from you.

Should they attempt to do this, regardless of the reason (there are no legitimate reasons here) you should immediately demand it back. If they refuse, you should refuse to leave until you have your passport back, and you should call the police.

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    This assumes that the original passport is being requested. The question says "a copy". Generally, people only have one physical passport at a time, so we should assume that they want a photocopy or a scan of it instead. – user44108 Jul 2 '19 at 5:42
  • Thank you very much, in fact they don't request original one from me, they just ask me to give them photo of it. – user106365 Jul 2 '19 at 7:34
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    @Snow you can assume what you like but the consequences of letting somebody take your passport away from you, especially in a developing country, can be catastrophic. This needed to be made very clear. – speciesUnknown Jul 2 '19 at 9:08
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    @gburton Did you read the comment from the OP which stated that the company hasn't requested the original passport? Remember that we normally answer the question as stated. – user44108 Jul 2 '19 at 9:19

In the UK, every company is legally required to check that you are allowed to work in the U.K. For most people (currently all 500 million EU citizens, the easiest way to do this is for the company to make a copy of your passport (they have to not just check, but be able to prove they checked). Obviously your passport must be returned immediately.

And of course that applies to UK citizens as well, because the company can’t just take your word for it. (How else would you prove it? A British birth certificate with two British citizen parents makes it highly likely but not proven yo are now U.K. citizen with the right to work).

(To clarify: “Make a copy” means just putting the relevant pages, the ones that identify you, in the photocopier)

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