What happens if you lose your passport abroad?

First, if you lose your passport abroad, don’t panic. The UK has a network of Embassies and Consulates around the world, plus the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), to help.

If you can access the internet (and you’re reading this article, so you probably can) then visit https://www.gov.uk/world/embassies to find the British Embassy or Consulate closest to you, and phone or email them for advice.

If you’re in any doubt, you can also contact the FCO’s Global Response Centre on +44 (0)20 7008 1500, where trained staff are available 24/7 to offer advice and point you in the right direction.

Can you get a new passport?

Yes, but it’s usually best to wait until you get home to do that unless you’re planning on being overseas for several weeks.

While it’s possible to apply for a new passport from another country, it will take longer and cost more than it would in the UK. As an example, to replace a lost adult British passport in Australia costs up to £95.70 and can take up to six weeks. Fortunately, if you need to travel more urgently, there is another option.

Emergency Travel Documents

An Emergency Travel Document (ETD) acts essentially as an emergency alternative to a passport. They are only issued overseas (if you’re in the UK and need to travel in an emergency then you can apply for a passport urgently from the Passport Office), and only if you meet strict conditions:

* you must be a British National
* you must be outside the UK
* you must already hold (or recently have held) a valid UK passport which has been lost, stolen, damaged, is full, has recently expired, or is with HM Passport Office or a foreign embassy
* you must not have time to apply for a new passport before you travel
* you must be able to provide proof of your travel plans and you will need to pay a fee, which varies from country to country, attend a face to face interview, and supply a passport photo which meets UK passport photo requirements.

What an ETD can (and cannot) do

Using an ETD it’s possible to travel to your final destination, through a maximum of five other countries. You can also (normally) use it to return to the country where you apply from if you live there (eg. if you’ve retired overseas).

Your travel itinerary will be printed on the ETD, so it is vital that you give accurate details when you apply. If your plans change after your ETD has been issued, you’ll have to apply for a new one.

If your final destination is the UK, border staff will keep your ETD when you arrive. Immigration officers in other countries may also do the same if it is your final destination.

An ETD is not a substitute for a passport, and you will still need to apply for a replacement for your lost passport, and pay the full fee for doing so when you return home.

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