Boss is asking for passport, but it has a stamp in it I don't want him to see. What to do?

  • I am an Indian national who has been working in Africa for 10 months. This stay in Africa is my first time leaving India. My passport has no previous stamps or marks in it. I recently had an emergency back at home and my boss kept refusing me a quick visit. I went back to India without his knowledge, and now he is asking for my passport. I can't let him see my back home visit on my passport. Should I glue the airline stamp pages together?

    Do not glue anything in your passport and do not give your passport to anyone! This is not your boss right to refuse you leaving the country. Seek for a legal advice, not travel!

    You could talk to your country's embassy and consulate, both for a potential referral for legal advice, and to learn about the process of getting a replacement passport, though that may take more time than you have.

    Why is your boss asking for your passport? Is this a legal request? In most cases, it is not.

    A boss who is unwilling to give you leave for a family emergency is not the kind of boss I would want to keep. Termination for insubordination might be a blessing in disguise here.

    You should get in touch with the Red Cross or Red Crescent.

    How would gluing the passport even help? Surely your boss would notice.

    Offer your boss a certified copy of the picture page as proof of identity if he needs it for accounting, immigration, tax, other reasons. If he is not happy with that then there is potentially serious issues in your working conditions.

    Is the boss asking you for the passport because he suspects you went back home - "Show me your passport so I can see the stamps" or is he asking for your passport with the intent of keeping you here - "Leave your passport with me"? If it is the first and your fear is that he will fire you, you should go ahead and come clean. If it is the second, you should approach the embassy to explain your situation. Do not tamper with the passport.

    @OleksandrKravchuk: "This is not your boss right to refuse you leaving the country." Unfortunately, in some countries, it could be, by law or by tradition. I heard many stories of expatriates that had to give their passport to their boss in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for the duration of their stay (and many problems ensued). Also, in South Korea, if you are a public servant, immigration officiers will tell your office that you left the country, so you are required to ask permission, even during your legal holidays. Not every country grants the same freedom of movement than us Europeans got.

    Simply offer him a photocopy of your passport. 'I made a photocopy for your convenience. There you go'.

    I have voted to close this question because the issue of *boss wants passport* is a typical **[Expats.SE]** issue and not a typical problem with ordinary travellers. The fact that the problem arises only once you want to *travel* back home from the expat-situation is secondary to the core problem of employers keeping employees passports. The problem here is not *how do I travel home*, it is (essentially) *I'm working abroad and my boss wants my passport*

    @Taladris Whilst it might be law or tradition, if he gives up the passport he can't go home. That trumps law or tradition. I feel happier discussing the absurdities of African law when I'm not in Africa!

    Of course he may just have to show the passport because during this short visit, he actually called in sick at work and the boss has suspicions.

    @gerrit I see your point, but I would prefer migration to expats over closing.

    tell him you lost it. if he insists, go to your consulate and tell them you lost it, and get a new one. the goal here is to keep your job etc., not to win a legal battle.

    Please give us an update. People are concerned about you.

    Several comments and answers tell you to make a copy. The usual advice applies: blank out any information the receiver of said copy doesn't need to know (social security numbers or their equivalents, for instance), and write the specific purpose of the copy on it, to prevent the receiver using it for other purposes.

    He probably already knows about your trip and just wants to confirm. People here might be overthinking that he is going to confiscate your passport. But just to be safe take photocopies of your passport and give him one copy to him.

    @Taladris That is against the law in Qatar now, though it used to be the case and still happens commonly, continued by unscrupulous companies and contractors. While expats should now always keep their passport in Qatar, that does not guarantee being able to leave the country. The employer needs to approve an exit permit for that. There are also multiple exit permits for those that need to travel more often.

    "Your" passport is not yours, **it is property of your government.** Your boss has no right to get it and technically speaking you too don't have the right of giving it to him/her (but of course you can show it to him/her).

    Does your home country issue second passports? My home country does - if there is a reasonable reason, e.g. you are travelling a lot, and your one passport is frequently in some consulate for getting visa, so you need a second one. You could give your boss the second one.

    In Africa, should you be upfront and ask Boss how much money he needs? Is that called *baksheesh*?

    @gerrit This is a Workplace question ("How can I deal with my boss?"). Travel and expatriates are secondary to this issue.

    Why not just renew your passport and give your boss a brand new empty passport? (Assuming you are happy to trust your boss with your means in and out of the country, which I probably wouldnt be)

    1. Do not give your passport to your boss. You may not get it back; this is standard procedure for abusing domestic help or human trafficking.
    2. Contact your embassy for suggestions.

    This is a well-documented means of abuse of Indians in Middle East.

    I wish I could +100 this my self, the only people that should ask for your your passport specifically should have a very valid, legal reason for doing it. That's not to say you can't use your passport as an ID, cause you usually can, but unless your working on a project that requires travel, or something there is almost no reason an employer should ask for a passport. Run away from this situation now, in fact report him to your embassy or other authorities.

    FYI and AFAIK, most passports remain the property of the issuing government (they essentially just lend them to their citizens). As such the only people normally allowed to force you to submit or surrender your passport are the relevant governments officials or officials of another government with which the issuing government has an agreement. Your passport *is* a valid form of ID if you need to prove your identity for some other reason, but you can do this by simply showing the ID *page* to those requesting the ID while holding it in your hands - you should never need to hand it over.

    FWIW, in my country (the UK) there are various circumstances where an employer has a *legal obligation* to look at (but never hold onto) an employee's passport. And also any relevant work visa. This may also be the case in one or more African countries. So it's probably worth establishing what your employer means by "asking for your passport" before flat refusing, at least if you want to avoid losing your job because you failed to fulfil some bureaucratic record-keeping rules. That said, it seems likely this employer is planning to confiscate it.

    In the Netherlands, employers are required to see verify valid ID prior to employment (usually passport, drivers license does _not_ suffice). They are also required by law to have a photo copy on file for any current employee. As far as identifiable information is concerned, the social security number may well be the most relevant bit information w.r.t. employment so you wouldn't be able to cross it out in the copy. Of course, the Netherlands has corresponding laws for secure storage of sensitive legal files of employees.

    @aitchnyu - Can you post a link to some article outlining how this leads to abuse? I'm having trouble finding something useful with keywords "india passport abuse".

    @eykanal Google for something like "passport confiscation human trafficking", as the problem is not restricted to Indian nationals. That search gives, among others, the following, about Singapore. Foreign workers also reported confiscation of their passports, restrictions on their movement, illegal withholding of their pay, threats of forced repatriation without pay, and physical and sexual abuse—all indicators of potential trafficking.

    @coteyr you *could* award a bounty ;)

    @eykanal See also, Specifically their first example: "The investigation reveals that: Companies are withholding the passports of migrant workers, trapping them in the UAE."

    @aitchnyu Same with Filipinos. This is a well-documented method for abusing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) working in the Middle East.

  • If you glue pages together in your passport you may as well throw it away.

    No immigration official will ever accept it and you'll probably even have trouble going back home with it. "Trouble" as in you'll be pulled aside into a little room until they're satisfied you're not an illegal immigrant.
    You may even be denied boarding by the airline if they notice that your passport looks suspicious.

    The only people with any real authority to demand your passport are immigration and/or law enforcement officials.

    Do NOT hand your original passport over to your boss.
    The only legitimate information your employer might need from your passport would be a copy of the 'main' page with all of your details and the passport's issue/expiry dates and a copy of a visa page if you require a visa to work in that country.

    Without knowing the country where this is happening and its laws, we don't actually know that "the only people with any real authority to demand your passport are immigration and/or law enforcement officials." For all we know, the country's laws might require the employer to hold or otherwise process the passports of its foreign employees.

    @phoog Possibly a bit of a generalization, but IMO a safe one. Your passport isn't actually yours. It belongs to the government of your home country who issued it (probably another generalization, but certainly true for US, UK & others). I can't see that there'd be any legal way for any entity other than immigration/law-enforcement/other-government-body to take possession of a passport without the consent of the holder and/or issuing country. Your employer certainly wouldn't have such a right in any country which doesn't practice some sort of restriction on movement (Mid-East? North Korea?).

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

  • Some lines from my Indian passport (originally written in all caps):


    This passport is the property of the Government of India.

    It should be in the custody either of the holder or of a person authorised by the holder. It must not be altered or mutilated in any way.

    In short, keep it safe and in your possession, do not tamper with it, and keep in mind that you do not own the passport, it belongs to your country.

    This answers the tampering part, but not the question if OP should give it to his boss. Basically the boss is asking to become a "person authorised by the holder".

    @ptityeti Perhaps so, but the OP does not **want** or **need** to give it to the boss. That's settled. My answer was mainly telling the OP about the tampering part. Other answer have already addressed the other aspects of it. I do not wish to parrot them.

    @NVZ but the OP may be fired for failing to hand over the passport, and the text You have quoted doesn't change that.

    @phoog Handing it over is strictly OP's prerogative. I'm not making OP's decision for them. I'm saying here what the passport says about itself. Other answers give better advice on what the OP should do about his boss.

    @phoog I don't know much about OP's country. In UAE, for example, passports, by law, should be with the individual. But employees willingly keep them in their company safes, and the company is required to give it back immediately when the employee asks for it. Companies are not allowed to "ask" for the passports themselves.

    Interestingly, my (Polish) passport has a field which says "Holder's signature" (where my signature is printed), while the corresponding name for the field in Polish actually says "Owner's signature". On the other hand, the law explicitly says that *valid* passport documents are property of the state.

    @tomasz lost is translation, probably. Interesting.

    @NVZ: actually, I have no idea how to translate "holder" into Polish without making it sound really awkward or indicating ownership. That's probably the actual reason. But anyway, I don't see any clear indication on the passport that it is owned by the state (the law I looked up online).

    @tomasz usually passports are the property of the respective country. I've not heard of any exceptions to this.

    @tomasz words change on translation, for example, in Arabic, "arbaab" is used for employer, owner, manager, land lord, rich man and more.

  • Don't dig a pit deeper than what it already is, just be honest and tell your boss I did undertake the trip. These cover up operations like the one you're thinking of have a habit of going from bad to worse.

    Just remember that changing a bad boss is far easier than changing an intentionally altered passport

    Getting in trouble with your boss might cause a temporary financial issue but getting in trouble with immigration might get you in jail (possibly in a foreign country)

    Do not ever try to make any alterations to your passport whatsoever.

    You might have another boss tomorrow and forget about the current one but once passport tampering is recorded on your immigration history it will stay with you for a long long time.

    Boss is asking for passport, but it has a stamp in it I don't want him to see. What to do?

    Sorry, I can not handover my passport to anyone except legal authorities.

    Did you take the trip when I said no?

    Yes I did, it was urgent and I had no other option. It did not impact my work.

    Its these small fears that make people do things which are even worse than before and the pile keeps on growing until they are neck-deep in legal troubles.

    *"Just remember that changing a bad boss is far easier than changing a bad passport"* it? Not suggesting you do it, but I feel like you can "damage" or "lose" your passport so you can then request another one pretty easily... whereas changing your boss's personality or changing your job itself is kinda hard...

    I should have said *than a forged/illegally altered passport* :D

    @HankyPanky: Can't you just "lose" it though? (Again, not suggesting it, but I feel like many people wouldn't bat an eye before doing this.)

    You can, but my point is that why should a person dig deeper into things than they themselves are. OP can claim a lost passport and go through the process of registering a police report in an unfamiliar country then apply for a new one pay some hefty fee and so on. Even that doesn't satisfy the boss on the face value of it so why not be upfront from get go and not create trouble number 2

    Saying this could cause only a "temporary financial issue" is an unreasonable assumption. We don't know how dire OP's financial situation is, and it is never guaranteed to be easy to find a new job.

    @Mehrdad Doesn't it seem kind of risky to loose your passport while out of the country?

    @BaileyS: I mean, it happens to a lot of people, and I presume it doesn't ruin their lives, so...

    @user30031 Nobody in a dire financial situation takes a cross continent flight and gets back to work without their boss even being sure whether that trip was undertaken. Certainly the OP was able to afford those flights. Also, if finding a job is difficult OP should start messing around with their passport?

    @Mehrdad It happens to a lot of people that their passport is taken away and they have no way to reach their embassy or otherwise get a new one. This is a fairly common scam and people have their lives ruined by it every day.

    @BaileyS: Not sure how that's relevant to the scenario I was talking about.

    @Mehrdad Good point, just as long as it is lost after the replacement is secured. I misread your comment and thought it was suggesting that getting a replacement for an intentionally damaged passport was not a big deal. The OP needs to hold on to his passport like his life depends on it!

    @hanky-panky people somethings do anything in their power for family emergencies, even if they can't really afford it. Best not to assume.

  • This smells like your boss is abusing you.

    I advice to contact your embassy or directly I recommend to contact Minister of External Affairs of India (Sushma Swaraj). You can e-mail her or just tweet her. She would definitely help you, explain your situation.

    She is the most responsive minster, there are many occasions like this, people have tweeted and she has solved it in no time.

    Here is the contact details of Ministry of External Affairs of India.

    Asking copy of passport for proof is different thing, but asking for a original passport is not the right thing to do. I hope this helps you and you will come out of this situation soon.

    This is a neat solution.

  • Don't glue anything! It will make your passport invalid. Also most passports have numbered pages, so no options to hide.

    Also contact your lawyer or some other help. I don't believe that your boss can legally demand your passport

    *"I don't believe that your boss can legally demand your passport"* ...they can legally demand proof of permission to work, which is generally the passport.

    I am telling, he should contact a lawyer. Over here in Estonia boss has right only to see my identity and only while first time taking me to work. And it even doesn't have to be a passport. It can be ID card, driving license or passport's front page only. Boss has no right according to law to demand anything else or look my passport through. Also I can show needed page from my hand without permission to look it all through.

    Also a copy of page signed by notary is valid. It could be also an option

    @Mehrdad Demanding proof of your permission to work and demanding to possess the proof of your permission to work are two entirely different things. You can just show him it, and if he says "I need to keep it" you say "no". Otherwise you can't leave the country without his permission.

    @DrEval: Not sure where you live but even in the US they take your passport for a bit to take it and photocopy it before returning it to you.

    @Mehrdad They may do that, but they don't **need** to do it. If it's simply a matter of providing proof of permission to work, they can accept a photocopy of my passport or they can escort me to their photocopier and watch me photocopy it myself. There's zero reason they **have** to be physically in possession of my passport at any point in time.

    @Mehrdad And in the United States, there are relatively few cases of people held in conditions of slavery by taking away their passport, unlike some African or near-African countries one could name.

  • Make a color photocopy of the most important pages. That is, the ones with your photo and the details that he needs to see. Only show the copies to your boss. It's up to you if you want to let him keep them or not. You probably don't need to and you can destroy the copies after s/he has seen what they need to see.

    You ought to be able to get color copies at a stationary shop (such as Staples here) or various other service centers. It should only cost you a few (4-5) dollars.

    You never stated why your boss needs to see it and many (most) of the answers and comments here seem to have made certain assumptions about why. We don't really know. Maybe he just wants to verify some personal information. If your boss is not divulging those reasons, then the photocopies really ought to suffice. Then, you can leave it at that.

  • The advice others have given of not handing over your passport and potential abuse are very valid and should be adhered to.

    But then this raises the question of how to maintain relations with your boss, how to refuse his illegitimate request.

    I would say to give him a photocopy of the photo-ID part of your passport and of your work visa.

    These are the only parts of your passport that an employer has a legitimate reason to need to see, on many occasions when working abroad I have had to give copies of these documents. Its fairly standard and often it is even a legal requirement for employment.

  • On the basis of the above answers, if your passport is taken without your consent or by coercion or social pressure you can't resist, and isn't immediately given back, take it seriously and go to police or your country's consulate if you don't get it back in minutes (and mean it, and do it).

    Don't take chances or excuses, and don't let anyone else put off giving it back. Tell them if it's not in your hands in (X minutes, or once they've done whatever they do), then you'll be going to your consulate - and mean it. It's too serious to let people play with games. Anyone who takes a passport would know exactly what they're doing, so assume they have some intention or other and act accordingly.

    While this in itself is good advise, it does not answer the question.

    @Willeke: "assume they have some intention or other and act accordingly..." answers the question, especially given the overall context. The poster just doesn't want to "come out and say it.

    The question is not 'how to act is my passport is in the hands of someone who does not want to hand it back' but 'I have a stamp in my passport I do not want my boss to see' without the passport already being in his hands.

  • This is abuse for the reasons outlined above, even the request is very strange and sounds like abuse. You should contact your embassy and seek help.

    That said, if you want to keep your current job - You can always get a new passport (without the stamp). I'm not sure why no one suggested it but it sounds like the most obvious situation.

    In many (most?) cases, you have to return the old passport in order to get a new one.

    @gerrit why would that be a problem? OP can return their old passport and ask for a new one (which does not have the stamp). (And, it would force them to discuss the issue with their embassy)

    The boss would notice It's a new passport. How would you explain that to the boss without adding more lies to the pile? Such as: it was stolen, I lost it.

    @EnricNaval I'm actually almost never in favor of lying - I suggest you tell him "I got a new passport", it's none of his business if the old one expired or you didn't like your photo in it.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM