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Lost or stolen passports

What can you do if your passport is lost or stolen?

Jake Edmonds
Written by  Jake Edmonds
5 min read
Updated: 30 Jan 2024

A lost or stolen passport is more common than you might think. This is what to do if it happens to you: how to get a new one and make a claim on your travel insurance

Cancel your passport immediately

The moment you realize your passport is missing, contact the Home Office right away. Reporting a missing passport to the Home Office immediately helps to reduce the risk of someone using your passport or identity. It's a critical step to prevent any potential misuse of your identity. The loss of such an important document is not just an inconvenience; it poses a risk of identity theft, which can have far-reaching consequences.

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Report to the local police

If theft is the reason behind your lost passport, reporting it to the local police is essential. Not only is this important for your own records, but a crime reference number may be required for any embassy dealings and insurance claims. It also helps authorities track stolen documents and potentially prevent illegal activities.

Replacing your passport abroad

How do you replace your passport abroad?

If you're stuck in a foreign country without a passport, obtaining an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) should be your next move. An ETD is a temporary solution that allows you to return home or continue your travels through a maximum of five countries, specifying your travel dates and the countries you will visit.

To be eligible for an ETD, you must be a British national outside the UK, with a passport that is lost, stolen, damaged, full, recently expired, or is with HM Passport Office or a foreign embassy, not having time to renew or replace your passport before you travel, and being able to provide proof of your travel plans. If your travel plans change, you need to apply for a new emergency travel document.

How do you apply for an emergency travel document?

Applying for an ETD is relatively straightforward. The process can be initiated online, and there's a fee of £100. After your application, you'll likely need to schedule an appointment at a British embassy or consulate. Typically, an ETD can be ready within two working days, ensuring you're not left stranded for long.

If your travel plans are not immediate, you have the option to apply for a new passport while abroad. However, this process is usually more expensive and time-consuming than applying within the UK, and the replacement passport will have a higher price than in the UK and will take slightly longer to get to you.

What documents do you need?

When applying for an ETD, you'll need several documents:

  • A recent passport-quality photo.

  • Information from your original passport, if available. Keeping a scan of your passport can be incredibly useful in such situations.

  • Proof of your travel plans, such as flight and hotel booking confirmations.

  • If your passport was stolen, a police report or crime reference number is necessary.

Insurance coverage for lost or stolen passports

Travel insurance is an essential component of any trip, and it’s always worth getting travel insurance, as most policies cover lost and stolen passports. They may cover the cost of the replacements and potentially waive the excess fee for lost passport claims. However, it's crucial to check your policy for the specifics.

Insurance can also be a financial safety net for additional expenses incurred while you wait for your ETD, such as extra nights in a hotel or alternative flight arrangements.

Before you leave the UK

What if your passport goes missing before you even start your journey? If you're in the UK and need a replacement urgently, you can use the 1-week Fast Track service. This service requires you to fill out an application form available at the Post Office, followed by an online appointment. The fee for most adult passports is £155. This expedited service is designed for those with imminent travel plans within three weeks and can only be accessed from within the UK.

Compare travel insurance

Before you set off on your adventure, remember that travel insurance is not just for peace of mind; it's a practical tool for financial protection. It generally covers lost or stolen passports, medical care, theft, and a host of other unforeseen expenses. Take the time to shop around for the right policy that suits your needs. Platforms like MoneySuperMarket can help you compare different insurance policies, factoring in elements like medical costs, baggage, cancellation fees, and customer ratings.

Embarking on international travel comes with its own set of risks and challenges. A lost or stolen passport is certainly a significant hurdle, but with the right steps and preparations, it doesn't have to derail your trip. By understanding the process of obtaining an ETD, knowing what documents you'll need, and ensuring you have comprehensive travel insurance, you can navigate these situations with confidence. Remember, the best way to protect yourself from the unexpected is to plan ahead and stay informed. Safe travels!

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