Passport Covers: Are they beneficial?

passport covers

Image: The World Map 3D Print passport cover on Amazon; 601 leather passport cover on Amazon; the Ocean Currents Map passport cover on Amazon; the Dynomighty Airmail passport cover on Amazon.

The passport cover is something that seems to make it into just about every travel gear shop on the planet, but it’s real benefit has been something I’ve questioned over the years. In this post, I take a look at the pros and cons of passport covers and whether they are something we’d recommend to our HPL readers.

What is a passport cover?

A passport cover is sort of like a book cover for your passport. Typically, both ends of your passport cover will slide into pockets on either side, and just like a book jacket, you have a fancy new look to your passport. It’s protected better from normal wear and tear. Passport covers can be made of plastic, leather, fabric, and so on.

Pros of Using Passport Covers

They protect your passport from normal wear and tear, and getting liquids spilled on them. If you use your passport a lot, then this can be a very good thing.

They help you quickly identify the passport in your luggage or bag. A dark blue cover doesn’t always make itself known in a dark bag.

They can look super fashionable or sleek if that’s what you’re going for.

They can add extra organization. Some covers contain extra pockets inside for money, ID’s, vaccination proof, or other random ticket slips.

Some protect your digital information. Since most passports worldwide include an RFID chip in them, the passport covers that include RFID blockers can keep your personal information from getting into the wrong hands.

Cons of Using Passport Covers

They add an extra step. At passport control, the officer will usually have to remove the cover from the passport, or you will have to do the same.

Some add extra bulk. Not much, mind you, but the fewer extras you include in your packing, the better, right?

clear passport cover
A clear passport cover, like this one on Amazon, can help protect your passport without adding any fuss.

My Personal Opinion

Personally, I find the cover to be a bit useless. I used one on a 6 week trip a couple of years ago, and while it was super cute, I was annoyed at having to remove the cover at every airport stop. Instead of putting the passport back in the cover properly, I tended to just slip it back loosely (inside the cover, but not actually connected to it). Not only that, but for RFID protection, I have other gear that offers the capability, like a pocket in my Pacsafe Slingsafe 300 GII.

And who doesn’t want their passport to show a little wear and tear? The only good passport, in my opinion, is a used passport!

But then again, that’s just me. I love the feeling of being organized when I travel, but I also hate extra steps at those busy times, like trying to get through security.

The need to keep my passport looking nice and neat is not super important to me; it might be for you. In that case, a passport cover can add a bit of pizzazz to your travel style while keeping your passport, and possibly your passport’s information, safe.

Verdict: The passport cover is not an essential piece of travel gear, but for some it may be useful if looking for the following perks: keeping the passport looking sharper longer, protecting the digital data on the passport, or classing up your travel ensemble.

Do you use a passport cover? Why or why not?

Written by Brooke

Brooke Schoenman runs the show at Her Packing List. Inspired from years of travel experience, Brooke decided there needed to be a travel gear site focused on the needs of a wandering female.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Sarah says

    I never use a passport cover. But i usually keep my passport in my money belt the whole time, and it can get pretty gross in there on an active, hot day. So I do keep my passport in a ziplocs once I’ve arrived at my destination.

  2. Melissa says

    I use the pacsafe RFID passport travel wallet for big trips. it serves the purpose of not losing my passport in my bag, but also as a wallet, document carrier, change holder, ticket sleeve, and pen holder.

    I used to have just a regular old cover, but it became a hassle to always remove it, and it wasn’t large enough to hold tickets and other documents. At leas the Pacsafe wallet is multipurpose!

  3. Megan E. says

    I see three good reasons…

    1. As you mentioned, the RFID protection
    2. Keep it from getting as damaged when in a wet environment (ie, my money belt)
    3. To hide your country of origin… when I traveled to some places, I didn’t want people to know I was a US Citizen right off the bat and a cover hides the passport better than my hand.

  4. Jessica says

    I’ve never used a passport cover, but I have used a passport carrier. I think it works well as my passport can easily slide in and out, and the one I use regularly has extra pockets for additional ID and money… it’s like a thinner and more useful wallet! Plus, since it’s attached to a string meant to go around your neck, it’s easy to keep on hand when going through airport security, and otherwise I’ll tie it to a certain space inside my backpack so it doesn’t get jumbled around with my other belongings.

  5. Caitlin says

    I have a passport cover that I love. It was a gift so there is sentimental value but I love not having the wear and tear on my passport. My previous passport had so much damage that I got questioned about it going through immigration (sorry, don’t remember the specific country). It made me worried enough that now I try to prevent any damage so immigration has no reason to question me.

  6. John Mayson says

    I would never have bought one. However I had a five hour delay on Singapore Airlines and as a token they gave every passenger a wrapped gift that ended up being a passport wallet.

    I like mine. I use it to hold not only my passport but my frequent flyer membership cards. I also stuff my claim ticket when I check baggage inside the pocket.

  7. Trish says

    Aren’t your passports issued with a cover? They are in Oz, not quite like the one you described but with each side having a plastic cover, open at the top. I keep my closed passport in one side, easy to slide out and open, and many random things in the other side at different times. A little local currency, baggage claim tickets, receipts, phone numbers I need to keep handy, business cards and many other things. I don’t know what I would do without my cover and it’s simple storage. This passport has done some hard travel, tbe more protection I can give it the better!

  8. Lacey says

    I too have strated using a passport cover primarily to disguise my country of origin. Especially as I am about to get my “official government travel” passport for an international military move, I will DEFINITELY be keeping tha one in a cover. You don’t exactly want everyone knowing you’re traveling for military reasons. I am pretty good at hiding my affiliation, but that one is a dead give away and my safety matters more than my convenience.

    But — I have a thin one with a cute design and plastic outer. It is essencally as this as the clear one you pictured. Fits perfectly in my RFID money belt and helps with the poisture protection.

  9. The City Rental says

    I bought a leatherette one from Daiso in South Korea for like $3–it was a total impulse buy but it’s held up surprisingly well. I like the element of personalization, plus it has pockets to keep my boarding passes handy while I wait in airport lines.

  10. Jean | Holy Smithereens says

    I used to have a passport cover but like you observed, they do add to the bulk and the only thing they really do is protect the passport from looking old and worn–but old and worn passports are fashionable right? 😉

      • kip says

        Yeah good luck with ‘old and worn’ now; most gate agents on international flights leaving from the US to ANY country, ESPECIALLY mexico, will deny you boarding passes if a passport looks ‘used’, SOUTHWEST especially, they are not playing games. Trust me on this one.

  11. Louise says

    I personally find mine really handy – I always keep my EHIC card with my passport plus any boarding passes etc I might have.

    • Ghia says

      Thanks for sharing! I was wondering the same thing. I found it annoying to always be taking the passport out at the airport whenever I have my luggage with me. I have this cute floral one but decided to ditch it this last trip and found it easier to manage. Instead I was using a leather fanny pack for my passport and it worked out very well, especially since I upgraded to using a Travel backpack so I was hands free. I do like that the passport cover included space for credit cards, boarding pass, and my passport but did not see it as a wise item to use as a wallet during my days out in a country as I rather leave my passport at the hotel.

  12. Cate says

    I don’t care if my passport sees a bit of wear but I do like the organization that a passport wallet provides!!
    I can keep all the passes I need in one spot without having to dig through my bag looking for each one. For me, a passport wallet is more of a travel wallet. I keep my passport accessible for removal. Without a wallet, I get annoyed when my boarding pass has slipped out of my passport or my ticket for the next leg is loose in my bag. I also like to have some currency that I’ll only use in airports tucked into it just in case.

  13. Neil says

    I got one as a present from my daughter, so of course I have to use it. I do rather like it though. The design is a map of the London Underground, so no disguising my nationality 😉

  14. Simone says

    The safest way is to either carry everything safely in one place, or only bring the essentials. I got both the Travel Wallet and Carry Out Wallet from Bellroy, and I bring either depending on where I’m traveling.

  15. ClicketySnap says

    I think it depends on the passport cover. I have two really cheap black ones that I got as a bundle with passport photos from Walmart several years ago, and I keep lending them out to people because I find them to be awesome! They have a little folder on the front to slip your boarding pass in, and have a clear window on the inside so that you can always have your passport open to the picture page. Yes, the security people sometimes take it out of the cover for authentication, but I just fix it once I’m boarded on the plane. There’s a few card holder sleeves on the inside as well, but I find using all of them and making it a wallet makes it too bulky, I’d rather it have a zipper at that point. I have travelled a couple of times without the passport cover and haven’t been bothered (I use my boarding pass to “bookmark” the picture page of my passport) and when I do use it I enjoy the organization without feeling like it is time-consuming.

  16. Felicity says

    I never really saw a use for a passport cover but found a really cute one one time and I sort of went into a coma and bought it 😛 It has full size pockets on each side so it’s great for keeping my husband’s and my passports together in one neat bundle (I’m the only one organised enough to be trusted with our travel documents) so it has actually turned out to be really useful.

  17. Eli says

    As somebody who was stopped leaving the country, and then attempting to reenter based on a wear and tear (even a small amount) please do not think that is a great thing. Passport damage can prevent you from travelling, and it was made clear to me that I was VERY LUCKY to have been allowed to leave the country, and reenter, and that it absolutley needed to be replaced upon arriving back home. There is an incredible amount of naiveity in that statement.

    Your passport in an incredibly important document – it’s not only the thing that allows you to travel abroad, it’s the one thing that lets you return home when your done. And if the thing is damaged – it can stop you from being allowed back home, and leave you stranded in a foreign country. Do not travel on a damaged one because it shows you are “well travelled”, it’s “fashionable” or any other such reasons. Keep it in a good condition, and replace it if you notice damage appearing.

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