Is there any specific law that it is necessary to present identification when checking into a hostel, because since you are living amongst others, there might be a variety of interpersonal issues, and in some ways, the private/residential sphere and the public sphere are in the same place?

(Any country, but curious about the North America or Europe.)

  • 3
    This definitely varies from country to country.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 27, 2023 at 21:46

4 Answers 4


Visitors in hotels must be registered and the hotel must keep the paperwork for a certain duration. According to §29 Bundesmeldegesetz, foreigners who are required to be named in their registry need to show an identity document (groups might have summary listings for some).

There are some optional simplifications. Paying by credit card may count as identity verification.

From context where this law is placed, it is not about interpersonal issues in the hotel. Germany requires all residents to register with their municipality of residence, and registering hotel visitors closes loopholes. §28 immediately before this is about sailors on river barges, §32 is about hospitals.


As a foreigner, yes. As a French national, no

According to the CNIL (translation mine) :

Un hôtelier peut-il faire une copie de ma pièce d'identité ?

Attention !

Il peut cependant vous demander de présenter une pièce d'identité afin de justifier votre nationalité. En effet, en France, les hôteliers sont tenus de faire remplir et signer par toute personne étrangère, dès son arrivée, une fiche individuelle de police à des fins de prévention des troubles à l'ordre public, d'enquêtes judiciaires et de recherche dans l'intérêt des personnes. Il peut également vous demander de justifier de votre identité si vous lui remettez un chèque en paiement (code monétaire et financier).

Can a hotel make a copy of my ID?

Warning ! They can as you to show your ID to justify your citizenship as they are required, if you are a foreigner, to make you fill and sign a individual police file.
They can also make you show it if you are paying by check (financial and monetary code) [...]

If you are a French national, it is perfectly legal for you to refuse to present your ID at all since there are no laws that require you to present one

Indépendamment du cas particulier du paiement par chèque, aucun texte n'impose que les consommateurs produisent un justificatif d'identité lors de l'achat d'une prestation hôtelière.

Outside of the specific case of payment by check, no laws require consumers to procude an ID when buying a hotel prestation

Economy minister response to the Senate, n°23827

And since refusing service/sale, outside specific circumstances (like suspicion of you being a minor or being a foreigner) is illegal

Est interdit le fait de refuser à un consommateur la vente d'un produit ou la prestation d'un service, sauf motif légitime ;

Is forbidden the fact of refusing to a consummer the sale of a product or the provision of a service, except for legitimate reasons ;

Consummer code, L-121-11

This makes refusal legal, as this wouldn't stand as a legitimate reason

A la connaissance du ministère de l'économie, des finances et de l'industrie, il n'existe pas de jurisprudence ayant admis comme motif légitime d'un refus de vente l'absence de production d'un justificatif d'identité.

To the knowledge of the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industry, there is no case law that has accepted the absence of proof of identity as a legitimate reason for refusing a sale.

Economy minister response to the Senate, n°23827

  • If they believe you aren't a French national, wouldn't you need your ID to prove it? Feb 27, 2023 at 10:42
  • @ComicSansSeraphim Very likely yes in that case Feb 27, 2023 at 12:44
  • I am familiar with that issue with the Challenge 25 policy for alcohol. I sometimes joke that if you can prove you're over 25 you don't need ID. It's a Catch 18-25. Feb 27, 2023 at 12:49

  • An alien(sic)1 must provide their name, nationality and passport etc details on arrival, and their destination on departure.

  • Non-aliens must provide their name and nationality on arrival.

See Article 4 Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972 that details what information is required, and when:

(1) Every person of or over the age of 16 years who stays at any premises to which this Order applies shall, on arriving at the premises, inform the keeper of the premises of his full name and nationality.

(2) Every such person who is an alien shall also—

  • (a) on arriving at the premises, inform the keeper of the premises of the number and place of issue of his passport, certificate of registration or other document establishing his identity and nationality; and

  • (b) on or before his departure from the premises, inform the keeper of the premises of his next destination and, if it is known to him, his full address there.

1 Article 2(1) of the 1972 Order was amended to include the British Nationality Act 1981 definition of alien:

a person who is neither a Commonwealth citizen nor a British protected person nor a citizen of the Republic of Ireland

  • 1
    ^The archaic language seems so out of place these days
    – user35069
    Feb 27, 2023 at 8:32
  • You humans are all racist! Feb 27, 2023 at 10:43
  • 1
    By contrast, I've never understood why anyone has a problem with "alien." People seem to bend over backwards to avoid using terms that, well, alienate people, when the very purpose of nationality law is to differentiate "us" from "them." What word would you prefer?
    – phoog
    Feb 27, 2023 at 17:26
  • So a foreigner needs to show a passport. If someone claims to be not a foreigner, how do they prove it? Just checked, my UK driving license shows my date and country of birth, but not my nationality. There are non-British citizens born in the UK, and British citizens not born in the UK.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 27, 2023 at 22:50

There is no federal law mandating producing identification for such purpose. There could be state laws to that effect, however the only law in Washington state is RCW 19.48.020, which requires that "Every hotel and trailer camp shall keep a record of the arrival and departure of its guests in such a manner that the record will be a permanent one for at least one year from the date of departure" ("hotel" is defined in subsection 010 as any place held out as a public sleeping accomodation, lumping together hotel, motel, hostel, lodge, inn and whatever other terms are applied). There is no law or administrative rule regulating the information to be collected or the proof of the veracity of the information that has to be given.

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