Do you really need a scan of my passport?

June 26, 2013

In the last few weeks, it’s been my pleasure and privilege to give invited talks on open access to both UCL and the University of Ulster. (Both of them went well, thanks for asking.)

Now they come to process expenses, and both universities have asked for scans of my passport. I explained to UCL that I was only expecting expenses, not a fee, and they backed down; but Ulster are very kindly giving me a fee, and contact there insists that “our Finance Office will insist on receiving this [passport scan] before they will process payment”.

That seems bizarre to me.

Has anyone else run into this?

Has anyone else been reluctant to comply? To me it seems like a strange intrusion, and a completely unnecessary violation of privacy. Either they want to pay me or they don’t — either is fine (I didn’t accept the Ulster invitation for the money). But I don’t see what my passport has to do with anything.

Am I being unreasonable? Or are they?

What should I do?

6 Responses to “Do you really need a scan of my passport?”

  1. Andy Farke Says:

    Passport is totally odd, but then again I don’t know how things roll over on your side of the pond. It’s not unusual here to be requested to provide our social security number (which is linked to our income tax return, so it makes sense in that honoraria are reportable income for taxation purposes) so that an honorarium check can be cut. A passport is a new one, though.

  2. ucfagls Says:

    It is probably requested so that they can demonstrate that they were diligent in insuring that you were eligible to work (for the fee) in the UK.

  3. brembs Says:

    I’ve given a number of presentations on the islands over the years (the last one at the BNA festival in London) and they never wanted a scan of my passport…

  4. Marek Says:

    When I defended my PhD at Uni of Edinburgh three years ago, I was asked what nationality my external examiner was. It was indeed so that the administrators were satisfied they can pay him his expenses (I don’t think there was a fee involved). I don’t know if they proceeded to ask him for his passport in the end.

    I doubt very much the universities are required by law to do this, they’re probably jumping the gun to please the Home Office. Universities have to keep HO happy because they depend a lot on overseas students who pay high tuition fees.

  5. Rebecca Says:

    The University of Swansea has just asked me for a scan of my passport to pay my expenses and a fee. I’m thinking of querying this as it seems to be getting more common and, as you said, it seems an unnecessary violation of privacy

  6. Mike Taylor Says:

    Please do push back on this. I’m sure there is no legitimate reason for them to want this.

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