You are abroad, either on holiday or on business. Either way there are lots of distractions to occupy your mind. While there may be odd items among your possessions that can go missing without any real consequence, like sunglasses or an item of clothing, there is one thing that you mustn’t lose.
More than 20,000 Britons report having lost their passport each year, some having been stolen. Most of the losses or thefts, unfortunately, occurring in Spain followed by the U.S.A., France and Australia.
The British passport is considered to be the fourth most valuable passport in the world. It allows visa-free access to 175 states.
Britons can expect to pay £73 for a new passport and losing a passport isn’t just about the cost and inconvenience. If it falls into the hands of criminals it can be used to commit crimes of identity and financial fraud. You have a duty of care to help everyone by reporting the loss as quickly as possible. For the British, you need to contact Her Majesty’s Passport Office so that the details can be logged and the passport can be cancelled thus preventing anyone else from using it.
You then have to apply for an Emergency Travel Document (ETD), also known as an ‘Emergency Passport’. This can be obtained from the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. This can be found at www.gov.uk/emergency-travel-document.
An emergency passport is only valid for 12 months. When you return home you must apply for a new passport to be able to travel abroad again.
In 2014 – 2015 British high commissions had to attend to 470,000 enquiries to assist Britons across the globe.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (FCO), have passport advice for travelers.
Be on the look-out for strangers who are taking an unusual amount of interest in you.
Keep your passport in a safe place. It must be out of sight and secure from the inevitable ‘pick-pocket’. You must be constantly on your guard.
Don’t allow your passport to become damaged as it may compromise its validity so you must look after it.
Make two photocopies of your passport page showing your face and details, place one copy with a trusted friend or family member and take the other with you. Ensure that this is concealed in a very secure place. This can be used as an alternative, often enough to get you out of trouble.
It is also an option to store a photocopy electronically out on the web provided access is password protected. If needed you can then download it from anywhere and print it out.
Some countries require that your passport be valid for six months after the date of travel. You must check on the entry requirements before travelling.
Fill in the emergency next-of-kin details before you travel.
Plan for the worst.
In addition to this, take copies of your passport photos as there may not be facilities available for taking photos. This could possibly cause a delay of days.
Take with you any evidence of your citizenship and a copy of your travel itinerary to be kept with you at all times.
Take photocopies of your credit cards and any other cards and documents of identification. Keep these in a secure place about your person or store it in a secure, password-protected folder on the web. It may be an option to email this information to yourself before travelling but you may need to be creative at ‘encrypting’ this so that you understand it but an email-hacker would have no chance.
Don’t save it out as a straight image when storing on the web, even in a password-protected folder. Hide the information by concealing it in a graphics file that, on the face of it, looks like something totally banal and of no consequence. When you return home, delete this information to remove any possible risk.
Have with you a list of phone numbers of the nearest embassy or consulate. Consider how far away you may be from the nearest embassy at any time on your travels and will you have the funds to get there.
Before you hit the ‘panic-button’ and start any embassy or consulate proceedings, take a while to search everywhere among your belongings, including among any travel companions belongings.
With some basic planning and preparation you can put yourself in a very powerful position. The technology is out their to help you, use it.
If you’ve seen anything interesting…
…tell your friends.