Planning ahead and know what to do
Discovering your passport has gone walkabout when you’re on holiday can swiftly turn that dream trip into a nightmare. When we think about protecting our possessions whilst abroad, our thoughts often turn to valuables such as jewellery or expensive camera equipment. However, in this age of identity theft, highly personal documents such as passports hold a significant value of their own.
Even the thought of losing a passport is enough to give some travellers that dreaded sinking feeling. However, having a plan in place just incase the worst should happen means you can spring into action immediately, in order to limit the damage as much as possible…
Before you travel
Make sure you make a copy or any key documents you will be taking with you when you travel. Scanning and printing is better than just making a photocopy as you can save the digital version to your emails - this way you can access your copies at any time.
Having a duplicate of your passport, driving license and even your bank cards will save you time and hassle if you need to get replacements issued. You’ll also need to provide a passport photo and a copy of your travel itinerary to apply for a new travel document - so you may as well add them to the packing check-list.
Another great tip is to look up and write down the address and contact details of the nearest British embassy in the area that you’ll be visiting. This is where travellers can go for assistance if they have an emergency such as losing a passport or becoming too ill to travel.
What to do if your passport goes missing
Whether you think you have misplaced it or it has been stolen, the first thing to do if your passport disappears is to cancel it, just as you would a debit or credit card. The faster you act, the better chance you have of preventing any fraudulent activity. The quickest way to do this is to file a report online at: www.gov.uk/report-a-lost-or-stolen-passport
You will also need to file a report with the local police. Cancelling the passport and speaking to the police enables the authorities to put into place procedures that would stop anyone else trying to use it in the future.
Once you’ve reported the loss, contact the British embassy to discuss booking an appointment to go in and replace your passport. You won’t be able to get your hands on a brand new passport whilst you are travelling, but what you will receive is an emergency travel document. Having one of these permits you to travel home to the UK, and you are allowed to pass through up to five other countries en route – good news for those that have a longer trip planned or are travelling overland.
The application procedure for your emergency travel document is relatively straightforward. You will be advised over the phone by the British embassy to complete a specific form that can be found on the government’s website. You need to bring this with you to your appointment, along with the spare passport photo that you cleverly packed before you left, a copy of your flight itinerary and a copy of the police report.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of downsides to consider. Firstly, the emergency travel document will cost £100 to issue – not exactly cheap – and secondly, your details could take a few days to process, particularly if your appointment is at a weekend. There is also the fact that when you get back to the UK, you will need to replace your passport if you plan on travelling again soon.
Don’t forget your insurance
Although losing your passport is most definitely an inconvenience, it doesn’t have to ruin your entire experience. If you follow these basic precautionary steps before you travel and take action as soon as possible when you discover it is missing, what feels like a major disaster will hopefully fade into the background of your wonderful holiday memories.
However, losing out on a significant amount of money can turn that inconvenience into a disaster, particularly if you lose a few passports and need to pay for replacements for the whole family or group of friends. To cover yourself, make sure you take out the right sort of travel insurance and read the small-print to check it provides financial protection in case you lose any important documents.
Medical Travel Compared helps countless travellers find the right cover for their trip every day by providing access to a wide range of insurance providers. Allow us to help and head off on your holiday, safe in the knowledge you’re covered.