Is it safe to share a picture of my ID with online service providers like Airbnb?

Some online service providers like Airbnb require you to provide a photo of your official government ID or passport as part of their online verification system. If you think about it, this is a standard procedure when you check in to a hotel – at reception they would ask for your ID and take a copy of it in order to verify that you are who you claim to be in your reservation. This way Airbnb aims to establish trust between the traveler and the host, as many of the hosts rent their own homes, so they need assurance that their home is in safe hands.

How it works?

When you’re asked to provide an ID, you need to take a photo of either your passport, identity card or driver’s license and upload it. You might also be asked to upload a photo of yourself, so that they can match it with the photo on your ID. If your photos don’t match, you’re under 18 or your ID is invalid, you won’t be able to book a listing that requires your ID.

Airbnb claims that it will never share your ID with a host or anyone else who uses their service. It only shares the following details with your host:

  • The first name on your ID
  • Whether you’re over or under 25 years old
  • Whether your ID has been successfully added
  • Your profile photo and name

Is it safe?

Airbnb collects identity verification information to create and maintain a trusted environment for both hosts and travellers. It also requires your identity if you’re a host in order to provide the payment services to you. The information you provide during the process of adding your government ID is governed by Airbnb’s privacy policy and is handled by third-party partners using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – the same secure encryption that websites use to transmit credit card information.

This is important because it means that customer data is encrypted as it is transferred and therefore cannot be read even if it is stolen.

As ever we do NOT recommend that you send any personal details or financial information over public Wi-Fi or networks. You can read more about the dangers of public Wi-Fi on our guide here.

Do you have any questions of the safety and security of providing a copy of your ID to online services? Let us know in the comments below.