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Planning Retirement Online

Lost Passports

September 2013


Passport about to be stolenSeptember is a popular time for the over 50s to go on holiday when prices come down a little and places aren’t quite so crowded.

But for anyone thinking of going abroad, be careful. Evidently we British are increasingly losing or damaging our passports while away on holiday.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), we do crazy things like using our passport as a beermat and ruining it, putting it in washing machines, taking it into the sea - and of course just leaving it all over the place in restaurant, bars, cars and taxis and on the beach.

According to their statistics, British people are paying over £5 million every year to emergency replacement passports and travel documents (ETDs).

The FCO’s latest report says:

  • Around 80 emergency travel documents are issued to British nationals around the world every single day, with 28,783 issued in the past year alone.

  • Avoidable cases have increased significantly in 2012-13 with ETDs issued for expired or damaged passports increasing by over 300%. More than a fifth of all ETDs (6,005) were issued in Spain, one of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits.

  • Consular staff in the USA also issued a high number of ETDs (3,180) followed by Australia (1,618), which has seen a number of Britons having to buy ETDs as their passport was no longer valid.

  • Theft remains an issue in big cities like Barcelona, which issued more ETDs than most countries (1,291) last year, mainly due to people’s bags being stolen, distraction thefts and pickpocketing.

Obtaining an emergency travel document can take several days, depending on local circumstances. You may need to obtain a police report, get passport photos, and of course get to and from your nearest British Consulate or Embassy. You may also have to replace any visas you need for your journey.  And it can cost up to £200 to replace your passport. These expenses can spiral if you need to rearrange holiday plans.

Will Middleton, Consular Director for Southern Europe, told Laterlife: “Our staff deal with people every day who require ETDs for a range of reasons. Some are victims of crime, but we also hear of passports being damaged carelessly, like becoming damaged after being hidden in the freezer. 

“These are situations that could have been avoided and end up costing holidaymakers valuable time and money.  We strongly advise people to look after their passport, keep it safe and check its validity well in advance of travel. Simple steps such as locking your passport in a safe if you have access to one and carrying a photocopy with you can help prevent problems later on.”

The FCO has issued some key tips for keeping your passport safe while on holiday:

  • Your passport is not always safer on you – lock it in a safe if you have access to one

  • 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

  • Where possible, use this photocopy as alternative ID, for example when going out at night

  • 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

To help more passports survive the summer holiday season, the FCO has released a cartoon animation to highlight some of the reasons why ETDs are issued:

Passport half-buried in sand

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