Your passport always remains the property of your government. However, retrieving it from some scurrilous individual can be a protracted nightmare.
I made the mistake of freely handing over my passport to a motorbike rental agency in Ko Tao, Thailand many years ago. I put a very mminor scratch on the fender of the motorbike. The shopkeeper demanded the equivalent of $120.00 U.S.D.
It was Christmas. The American Embassy was closed. The Thai Tourist Police were useless. It's likely the shopkeeper had juice with them.
Anyway, once the embassy reopened, they contacted the shopkeeper and criticized his deposit practices; worked out an agreement whereby I could pay $60.00 U.S.D. and receive my passport back.
Hey Karl, sounds like putting your passport down as the deposit actually helped you - you managed to reduce the fee you had to pay because the embassy came down hard on him.
Imagine if you had left a cash deposit of $200. I'm guessing you would have never seen it back!
Mind you, that's not to say that leaving your passport as a deposit is a good thing. It's most definitely not. In hotels in Russia, they pretty much require you to give them your passport. On your behalf they go register you as being present in the city and in order to do this, they need your passport. Scared the crap out of me handing it over, but there's very little choice in the matter. Actually, one thing to remember in Russia is to never hand over your passport to a police officer if they start questioning you on the street. They are known to try to extort bribes from you to give it back. Calling the embassy is the way out, but you can avoid the whole thing by carrying around a photo copy of your passport instead. At least, this was what the situation was like a few years ago when I last visited.
Thats' right, russian police is always working on some nice plans to help you to get rid of your money. I remember once, on a train station, they were "controling" my passport, and they were really giving me a hard time to give it back. In the end, as my train was the next morning, and I had to spend the night at the train station, they even suggested me to let them keep it for the night, as well as all my cash, for those not to be in any danger of being robed while I would be sleeping.
I know one northern country I will not be visiting soon!
haha thats awesome
i know one country i will Now be visiting