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What Happens When You Lose Your Passport Abroad?

Authored By Tony Rand

Are you getting ready for a summer holiday? Last year 53% of Brits took a holiday abroad accordingly to a survey by ABTA*. Many travel agents predict the number to increase this year, with 35% of us planning a holiday in a country we haven’t visited before.

Along with the excitement of exploring new places, seeing amazing sites, or sitting by the pool with your Kindle, there are some practical considerations you need to take into account before and during your trip. Booking tickets, arranging accommodation and changing currency are just a few of the jobs you may need to do, but what about having a contingency plan?

Not many of us think this is necessary when embarking on a summer holiday. We might if it was for a trip around the world or to somewhere remote, but for two weeks in the sun?

20,612 UK passports were reported as lost or stolen in 2014!

Figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) state that 39,053 emergency travel documents (ETDs) were also issued overseas last year, costing Brits over £5 million just to get home and replace their passport. This doesn’t take into account any additional travel expenses while waiting for an ETD to be issued, or any other unexpected expenses.

This is why the FCO have launched a social media campaign asking #WhereDoYouKeepYours in a bid to get us all to look after our passports when travelling abroad.

But what if the worse happens and you do lose your passport? What do you need to do, and is there any kind of contingency plan you can put in place beforehand?

What To Do If Your Passport Is Lost or Stolen

Bear in mind that when it comes to stress, it’s not the short-term issues that are the problem. It’s the long-term ones.

Procedures may differ depending on the country you are travelling in, so check ahead to make sure you know what to do. These guidelines are usually what you might expect:

•       Notify local police: If your passport has been stolen it is a crime and therefore you must notify the local police and get a Police Report Number.

•       Complete HM Passport Office’s Lost or Stolen Passport Notification: You can download the form here, and store it online using a secure data storage site at

•       Contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate: You may need to make an appointment, so check first.

•       Complete an Emergency Travel Document: You will also need to supply a passport size photo, personal ID and proof of travel, as well as the correct fee. Download an ETD here.

•       Appointment with British embassy, high commission or consulate: Take all the necessary documentation with your ID and payment to your appointment.

You may get your ETD on the day if you are eligible and your circumstances are relatively straightforward. However, if you have to apply for more than one ETD (for example if all the passports in your group have been lost), or if you have lost other important documents such as ID or travel confirmations it could take longer.

Your Passport Contingency Plan

This post has some fabulous insight on how you can save in 2017, making sure you’re always getting the best airfare!

Of course, the best plan of action is to keep your passport safe, the FCO shares these five tips:

1.      Value your passport and look after it carefully. A damaged passport cannot be used for travel.

2.      Your passport is not always safer on you (e.g. lock your passport in a safe if you have access to one), unless the local law requires you to keep it with you.

3.      Make two photocopies of your passport – leave one with friends or family and take the second with you, or store it online using a secure data storage site.

4.      Use this photocopy (or digital copy) as alternative ID, for example when going out at night.

5.      Make sure your passport is valid. For certain countries your passport must be valid for 6 months after the date you travel – check the entry requirements before you go.

But you can also help to ensure a smooth process should you lose your passport by doing the following:

•       Get the contact details for the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate before your travel,

•       Keep a record of your passport number so you can complete all necessary forms,

•       Back up your travel documentation and ID, such as using a secure storage site,

•       If you are applying for an ETD for a child you will also need a photocopy of the passport photo page of everyone who has parental responsibility for the child, as well as your own passport, Do this for all family members in your group.

•       Secure document storage apps like Boxtoff are ideal for backing up the supporting information you might need if you lose your passport.

Documents can be easily uploaded on your mobile using digital files or by taking a photo. Should you also lose your mobile phone, you can retrieve those important documents by logging into your account from another device, for example a computer at your hotel or the local embassy.

Holidays should be fun and although losing your passport might dampen your spirits, putting a contingency plan in place should give you some peace of mind and not ruin the rest of your trip.

* The Consumer Holiday Trends Report 2014

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

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