Checking into a hotel is usually a breeze—hand over your ID and credit card at the front desk, get your room key, and you’re all set. But what if you don’t have a valid ID, or try to pass off a fake one instead? Is it possible to use a fraudulent ID to check into a hotel, or will you get busted?
Let’s explore hotel policies around identification and find out why using a fake ID at check-in is illegal and comes with serious consequences.
What is a Fake ID?
A fake ID refers to any form of fraudulent identification that is used to misrepresent one’s identity or age. Common types of fake IDs include:
- Driver’s licenses
- Age verification cards like 18+ or 21+ IDs
- Social security cards
- Student IDs
Fake IDs may be convincingly realistic, like duplicates created using sophisticated technology and high-quality materials. Others are amateurish and easy to spot as fake.
Why Hotels Require ID Verification
Hotels have a responsibility to verify the identity of all guests for legal, security, and safety reasons. Proper ID is required during check-in to:
- Confirm reservations and room charges
- Prevent identity theft and fraud
- Uphold local laws around age limits for activities like drinking at the hotel bar or renting a room
- Track guest information in case of emergencies, crimes, or investigations
- Protect guest privacy and safety from threats like stalkers
Without verifying ID, hotels run the risk of facilitating illegal activities. Most have policies requiring all guests 18 and over to provide valid government-issued photo identification at check-in.
Common Forms of Acceptable Identification
Here are some of the most common forms of ID that hotels accept from adult guests:
- Driver’s license
- Military ID
- State-issued ID card
- Permanent resident card
The ID must be currently valid (unexpired), show the guest’s photo, and be issued by a federal or state authority. Some hotels may also accept supplemental IDs like an employment badge along with a valid photo ID.
Legal Consequences of Using a Fake ID
Attempting to use a fake ID to check into a hotel comes with serious legal risks. Most hotels now train staff to recognize fraudulent documents and will cooperate fully with authorities in the event of suspicious activity or an investigation.
Depending on local laws, using a fake ID can constitute:
- Identity theft
- Providing false information
- Misrepresentation of age
These criminal offenses can lead to:
- Fines of $1000+
- Jail time
- Community service
Penalties tend to escalate for repeat offenders. Minors face less severe consequences than adults in most cases.
In addition to criminal charges, anyone caught using a fake ID will likely be banned from the hotel. Your photo and information will be kept on file and shared with other hotels under the same parent company to prevent you from booking with them in the future. For example, Marriott may share your information across all brands including Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton, and over 6500 other properties worldwide.
Being banned from a major hotel chain can make travel extremely difficult going forward.
Beyond potential criminal charges and hotel bans, using fraudulent ID can hurt your reputation in other ways:
- Difficulty Booking Reservations: Hotels communicate with each other to flag suspicious guests. Even if charges are dropped, you may struggle to make legitimate reservations when other hotels are cautious of your history.
- Embarrassment: Getting detained or questioned by hotel security or police over a fake ID is embarrassing, especially if you’re traveling with family or for business.
- Job Loss: Some employers may terminate workers over activities considered unethical like using a fake ID. Government and security positions are especially strict.
- Difficulty Crossing Borders: Border agents can access databases to see if you have a history of using fake identification. This triggers additional screening which causes delays, or could even lead to entry denial.
Take Hotels Seriously
Hotels take guest safety and security extremely seriously. When you provide a fake ID, you automatically look suspicious and potentially dangerous.
Don’t underestimate the lengths hotels will go to in verifying identities and reporting questionable documents to protect their business and other guests.
If you don’t have valid photo ID, there are still options for booking hotel rooms:
Book Under Someone Else’s Name
You may be able to book a reservation using the name and ID of a spouse, parent, or friend who has valid identification. This person doesn’t necessarily need to check-in with you or even be staying in the room. As long as the name matches the confirmed guest, hotels usually won’t verify ID against reservations already made.
- The ID holder is responsible for any damages or other fees charged to the room.
- If a problem occurs, you can’t prove you have a right to be there.
- The named guest must authorize charges unless you also use their credit card.
Look for Alternative ID Policies
Some smaller independent and boutique hotels are willing to accept alternate IDs beyond driver’s licenses and passports. Options include:
- Employee badge
- Permanent resident card
- Birth certificate + social security card
- International driving permit
- National ID card
The best way to find out their policies is to call and speak with the hotel directly before booking.
Book as Part of a Group
If you’re attending a conference, tour group, or staying with an organized group like a school or sports team, the organizers will coordinate with the hotel on your behalf. The hotel will collect and verify IDs from the group leader rather than individual members.
You can split the cost of a hotel room by staying as a second guest with a friend or family member who has valid ID. While you won’t be an authorized guest yourself, at least you’ll have a place to stay.
At the end of the day, attempting to check into a hotel with fake ID is an extremely high-risk activity with serious legal consequences if caught. Your best options are to:
- Travel with someone who has valid ID
- Call ahead to find hotels willing to accept alternative documents
- Book rooms using someone else’s name and credit card
While it may seem inconvenient, taking the time to follow hotel policies will give you peace of mind and prevent future travel headaches. Don’t let an illegal shortcut create lasting damage to your reputation and freedom.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you use a fake ID at a hotel?
A: No, using a fake ID at a hotel is illegal and can result in criminal charges, eviction, or a ban from the property.
Q: What happens if a hotel catches you with a fake ID?
A: Hotels may call the police, refuse service, or ask you to leave if caught with a fake ID, which can have serious consequences.
Q: Can hotels detect fake IDs?
A: Yes, many hotels have trained staff and technology to spot fake IDs, making it difficult to use one successfully.
Q: Is using a fake ID at a hotel a misdemeanor?
A: Yes, using a fake ID is typically considered a misdemeanor, leading to fines, probation, or even jail time, depending on the jurisdiction.
Q: Can you get a refund if your fake ID is confiscated?
A: Hotels usually won’t refund your stay if your fake ID is confiscated, as you violated their policies.
Q: Can hotels share fake ID information with the authorities?
A: Yes, hotels may cooperate with law enforcement and share information about individuals using fake IDs.
Q: Are there any consequences for hotel staff not detecting fake IDs?
A: Hotel staff may face disciplinary actions or training to improve their ability to detect fake IDs.
Q: Can hotels refuse service to anyone with a fake ID?
A: Yes, hotels have the right to refuse service to individuals with fake IDs, as it’s a breach of their policies.
Q: Can you use a fake ID to book a hotel room online?
A: Attempting to book a hotel room online with a fake ID is risky and illegal, as most hotels verify identification upon check-in.
Q: What should I do if my real ID is lost or stolen during a hotel stay?
A: Report the loss immediately to the hotel staff and contact local authorities if needed. They can guide you on next steps.