Lost Passport: What To Do When You Lose It

Showing a passport

Losing a passport can be hugely stressful and lead to great inconvenience. 

The degree of stress and inconvenience will vary depending on where you lose your passport – home or abroad – and how soon you need it. Losing a passport while abroad on the day you’re due to fly home might be about as bad as it gets.

However, even though there might not be a magic wand to be waved that can make everything OK, there is at least always a best way to proceed, an option that will lead to the least disruption. Knowing what to do also helps keep that stress at manageable levels.

Lost Passport abroad: What to do

In this post, we will look at what to do when you lose your passport abroad and also what action to take should you lose your passport while in the UK,

Losing a passport abroad obviously comes with additional complications – there might be a language barrier and the passport might be required urgently. Often people only notice their passport is missing the day before they fly home, or even on the day itself – the problem becomes apparent only as you start to pack…

We’re going to assume at this stage that you have looked absolutely everywhere and retraced your steps as much as possible. Your passport appears to be gone for good. 

If you’re abroad, you cannot get a replacement passport, instead you will be applying for emergency travel documents. These documents let you travel to your destination – through a maximum of five other countries – this destination will be back to the UK of course in many cases.

Applications can be made online – here’s the link from the gov.uk site – and there is a £100 fee (at the time of writing).

In some cases, it will be necessary to attend an appointment at the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate after applying online – you will be told whether this step is necessary after making the appointment. 

The emergency travel documents will usually be ready inside two days and you will be kept up to date on their progress. 

It is possible to perform the application on behalf of someone else, including children, but for any child under 16 an appointment will also be needed and parents will typically be required to attend.

You should also report the missing passport at a local police station and get a crime or incident number. This step will not only aid your application for emergency travel documents it might also be essential for any claim against holiday insurance.

For further information on what to do if you or a member of your party has lost a passport abroad, see the official gov.uk site.

Lost passport in the UK: What to do

If you are in the UK and have lost your passport the first thing to weigh up is how certain are you that it is lost for good?

We ask this because once you report it missing – be that lost or stolen – you will have a week’s wait to get a replacement. If, for example, you are due to fly in a day’s time, you will want to have searched everywhere, turned the house upside down to find it because once you cancel it, that is it. You can’t un-cancel it. Report it missing online and then find it five minutes later… you’ve got a week’s wait.

However, if you are certain it is lost then the first step is to report the loss – this can be done online on the gov.uk site. That’s our third mention of the gov.uk site so far – as you can see it is the go-to place for when you have lost your passport.

After this, you will need to apply for a new passport with the fastest service the one week fast track (with a bit of luck the passport might arrive a day or two more quickly). The one week service costs more than the standard service.

If you suspect your passport has been stolen you should also report this to the police – this step can also be beneficial should you make an insurance claim. If the loss of your passport leads to the cancellation of holiday or travel plans you might be able to claim, this depending on the nature of your cover.

Lost Passport: Advice for future trips

There are plenty of things you can do to both reduce the chances of losing your passport and also make the process more straightforward should you lose it.

While in the UK, we would advise:

  • Avoid using your passport for ID purposes where possible. For instance, when collecting a parcel there are numerous forms of ID that are acceptable, you don’t need to use the one that is most problematic if lost.
  • Have one secure storage space for passports and keep them there until you need them. 
  • A few weeks before any trip, check they are in their correct place and then leave them there. If you can’t find them four weeks before you travel you have a situation that is salvageable, unlike if you discover their absence a day before a trip.

While abroad, and for trips abroad, we would advise:

  • Take spare passport photos with you, they could be useful when applying for emergency travel documents (and it saves the hassle of trying to find somewhere to get passport photos taken)
  • Make a note of where the nearest police station will be just in case you need to report a stolen passport. 
  • If your holiday accommodation does not have internet access, give some thought to where you could get online if required to do so to file for emergency travel documentation.

About Flight Reclaim

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If you are ever affected by delays, cancellations or being refused boarding on an over-booked flight, then do get in touch. We will help get you the compensation you are entitled to.

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