This question is strictly out of intellectual curiosity.

I am aware of many cases in which a foreigner who is visiting or living in a host country is suspected of having committed a crime, and they are either not arrested or are set free but the host country seizes that person's passport to prevent them from leaving the country while the investigation is underway.

This always made me curious: I always wondered what prevents such person from getting another valid passport from their consulate? Is there any example of this happening in practice?

I understand that new passport or not, a (sufficiently advanced) host country can simply flag that person and the computer will produce a match by name/biometrics/etc. during exit checks; but if a match will happen anyway regardless of passport, why seizing it in the first place? (Also: multiple citizenship.)

And in some countries foreigners are required to carry their passport at all times. Could a person with a seized passport now be charged with violating these other laws, even if involuntarily?

  • 1
    If that was a problem, then the police would inform a consulate if they confiscated someone's passport. And ask them politely not to create a replacement.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 7, 2022 at 15:19
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    There are about 36,000 answers, depending on the person's country of citizenship and their country of physical presence. Which ones are you asking about? Start with one of the countries that seized passports of foreigners and requires people to carry their passport with them at all times.
    – user6726
    Nov 7, 2022 at 16:43
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    For example, Brazil did it for American citizens in at least two occasions: (1) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gol_Transportes_A%C3%A9reos_Flight_1907 and (2) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lochtegate
    – Leonardo
    Nov 7, 2022 at 19:33
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    @Leonardo In the later situation, the U.S. never replaced the passports taken by Brazilian police officers and they left following the release of the passports from Brazilian custody. The closest I can think of to something like this is "The Canadian Caper" incident (the basis for the film Argo) but in that situation, the Canadians issued Canadian Passports to American Embassy workers in Iran who had sought refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador following the U.S. Embassy hostage situation.
    – hszmv
    Nov 7, 2022 at 21:07
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    @hszmv And more to the point, the Canadian Caper was an intelligence/covert action operation that would not be expected to obey the laws or desires of the host government. The idea of those is that the host country never finds out what happened, but if they do then everyone hides behind diplomatic and sovereign immunity.
    – cpast
    Nov 8, 2022 at 0:38


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