Good Advice Health and Safety abroad

How to cope with... Losing your passport

The ultimate travelling nightmare has got to be losing your passport while on the road. That feeling of dread when you’ve searched everywhere it could possibly be, or when you find your bag unzipped after walking through a bustling crowd, is hard to swallow. So what should you do when you realise your passport is gone? 


While this can be a frustrating and expensive experience, it’s a common one – in August 2010, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) said 60,000 people from the UK had reported their passport lost or stolen in the past year. And according to a recent poll, almost 19 per cent of our readers have done the same. Acceptance and patience are crucial to moving things forward. 


Go to the local police authority to report the theft or loss of your passport, and ask for a copy of it in writing – you will need this for insurance purposes and to gain the right to a replacement passport. Don’t be alarmed if they won’t give you one, though, as every country’s police service is different. “People in the embassies will know whether that is something the local police doesn’t provide. They will understand,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson says.


Next, go to the British Embassy (the FCO website,, has the addresses and phone numbers of all the embassies in the world). Fill out an LS01 form (also available online) to cancel your passport and apply for an emergency travel document (EDT). It costs £91.50 and is valid for a single journey to any destination via five transit points, so you can use it to get home and then replace your passport once you’re back in the UK.

Bear in mind that embassies’ opening hours vary, and it is likely that they will be closed at weekends. “In reality we issue very few out-of-hours ETDs but if we do then there is an additional charge,” the FCO says. “We would normally encourage customers to come the next working day whenever possible.”

You will need to prove your identity to get the ETD. “Another form of photo ID would help but is not mandatory,” the FCO says. “If you do not have other photo ID, we will verify your identity through other means.” If you have a police report, this also needs to be presented. You will then have a wait of about 24 hours before the document is issued, which needs to be collected from the embassy.


If you have lost a visa along with your passport, the amount of time it takes to replace it and the cost varies depending on the country it was issued by. “You would need to replace visas by contacting the embassy of the country you are going to visit, or the host country in the case of a residence visa,” the FCO spokesperson says. 


If the wait for your ETD has caused you to miss your flight, the cost of booking a new one can generally be avoided if you have the time  to remain on standby. A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority says: “If your travel insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a new flight, [you may find] full-service airlines such as BA might be understanding and put you on another flight on standby. No-frills airlines will generally make you buy the ticket.”


If your business trip was arranged through a travel management company, you can contact them for advice. Nigel Turner, director of programme management for the UK and Ireland at Carlson Wagonlit Travel says: “We can rearrange all parts of the traveller’s itinerary and we may get in touch with your company on your behalf to agree the best course of action. We also have our own online profile system of customers’ details, including passport details and contact numbers.”


Getting a new passport once you’re back in the UK costs £77.50 and takes up to three weeks to replace, but if you need to travel again soon, a one-week fast-track service is available for £112.50. (You cannot start the application process while you’re still away for collection at home .)

If the original is found, you can no longer use it as it will be void – you may be detained by the authorities if you try to. If you find your passport while you are still abroad, send it to the nearest UK embassy, or if you find it once you are back in the UK, send it to the Identity and Passport Service. n