Kasey Armstrong
Author: Kasey Armstrong, Customer Experience Team Lead

Kasey is committed to understanding how we can improve our processes to better help travellers looking to find the right cover.

7 min read

Embarking on a dream vacation only to discover that your passport has mysteriously vanished is a scenario that can quickly turn your travel euphoria into a nightmare.

While safeguarding valuables like jewellery and expensive camera equipment is a common concern, the modern era brings a new dimension to travel worries with the heightened risk of identity theft, placing considerable value on personal documents such as passports.

The mere thought of losing a passport is enough to send shivers down any traveller’s spine. However, having a well-thought-out plan in place can be a lifesaver, allowing you to spring into action immediately and minimize the potential damage.

Let us delve into the essential steps and tips, when facing the unfortunate situation of losing your passport.

Before You Travel: Prepare for the Unexpected

Before jetting off on your adventure, take proactive measures to mitigate the impact of a lost passport.

Create digital copies of key documents, such as your passport, driver's license, and bank cards, by scanning and saving them in your email. Unlike physical photocopies, digital versions can be easily accessed from anywhere.

This foresight can prove invaluable and save you valuable time and hassle if you need replacements. These copies will also come in handy when you report your lost items to the police, as the police may ask for your passport or bank card numbers – which can be hard to remember from memory.

Additionally, ensure you have a copy of your travel itinerary in case they are required during the replacement process.

Take a moment to research and note down the address and contact details of the nearest British embassy at your destination. This information can be a lifeline in emergencies, providing aid, for situations like lost passports or unexpected health issues.

What to Do If Your Passport Goes Missing Whilst Abroad: Act Swiftly and Effectively

Whether you have misplaced your passport or suspect it has been stolen, swift action is paramount. Treat your passport like a lost credit or debit card and cancel it immediately.

To do this, even if you are unsure if the passport is only lost, rather than stolen, you will need to report it to the local police immediately. The police should provide you with a crime reference number. You will likely need this to claim your travel insurance too.

Then, you will need to head over to the GOV.UK website, to report your passport as lost or stolen. Here you will be able to complete the LS01 form, which can be accessed at: www.gov.uk/report-a-lost-or-stolen-passport.

Once the form is complete, you must take it to the nearest British embassy, high commission, or consulate. This form will notify the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) that your passport is lost or stolen, meaning that you are not using it at the moment.

The faster you act, the better chance you have of preventing fraudulent activity. Cancelling the passport and reporting the incident to the police set in motion procedures to thwart any potential misuse.

If you have travel insurance in place, make sure you contact them to see what they will need, should you decide to make a claim.

Handing a UK Passport

What Next: Emergency Travel Document or New Passport?

After reporting the loss, you will need to decide whether to apply for an Emergency Travel Document or a new Passport.

Emergency Travel Document

An Emergency Travel Document (ETD) is not a replacement for your passport. However, it will allow you to return to the UK and permits you to travel through up to 5 countries en route, making it suitable for those with extended travel plans or overland journeys.

The application process for the emergency travel document is relatively straightforward. The British embassy will guide you to complete a specific form available on GOV.UK’s website, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/travel-urgently-from-abroad-without-uk-passport.

To apply for your ETD, you will need:

  • A valid digital passport photo (that has not been used in a previous passport).
  • A contact telephone number.
  • An email address.
  • And your debit/credit Card.

The Emergency Travel Document will cost you £100 and if your application is approved, you will be informed of how and when to collect your ETD. You may also be required to attend an appointment at the British embassy, high commission or consulate.  

Following your application approval, the ETD will usually be ready to collect after 2 working days from when you applied. Your travel itinerary (countries and dates) will be printed on the document. It is important to note, that should your travel plans change, you will need to re-apply for a new ETD, meaning another £100 fee will be required.

The ETD is a crucial lifeline to ensure your safe return to the UK. Keep in mind that upon your return, border control will likely keep the document. You will then need to replace your passport if you plan to travel again soon.

New Passport

Whilst you are abroad, you can request a new passport instead of an ETD. However, this is only practical, if you are on a longer trip, and not heading to any other destinations. The new passport will still take around 3 – 6 weeks to arrive (this could be longer in peak times).

This means that, whilst extending your holiday by a few extra weeks sounds ideal, you will need to be able to afford to stay in the country whilst you wait for your new passport to arrive – meaning that you will need to foot the bill for extending your accommodation and re-arranging your flights.

In most cases, insurers will not cover these costs, unless these expenses are incurred whilst obtaining an EDT. Make sure to carefully read your travel insurance documents, or contact your provider, to see what is covered.

Do not Forget Your Insurance: Safeguarding Your Finances

Losing your passport can be an inconvenience but it does not have to be a catastrophe. By following precautionary steps before and after your travels you can turn what feels like a major disaster into a background blip on your holiday memories.

However, financial considerations can escalate the inconvenience to a disaster, especially if you are responsible for multiple passports within your group. To safeguard against such financial setbacks, having the right travel insurance in place is essential.

Usually, travel insurance will come with some protection for your passport. In most cases, the loss or theft of your passport will fall into the Personal Belongings section of your policy, in particular, the ‘Money and Travel Documents’ cover.

Make sure you take the time to carefully read the policy documents to confirm it provides financial protection in case you lose your important documents. If you are still unsure, contact your insurance provider, who will be happy to help. Remember, preparation is key, and with the right policy in place, you can navigate the unexpected twists of travel without letting them overshadow your adventure.

If you’re looking for more information and articles, be sure to check out our blog. Or, for more insurance information, take a look at our guides.

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