Starting with the UK passport
It will take about 3 weeks to replace a passport if you apply through the standard postal method. Before you do anything you must report the loss to the relevant authority.
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.
It can be done online at www.loststolenpassport.service.gov.uk
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.
For these reasons you really have a duty of care to help everyone by reporting the loss as quickly as possible.
For an urgent replacement passport there is a 1 day Premium service or a 1 week fast-track service.
This is only available if you are currently in the UK.
Contact gov.uk (search ‘passports’) to find out more.
For the 1 day Premium service
You need to book an appointment to visit a Passport Customer Service Centre and collect it in person.
The 1 day Premium is currently a trial service with limited appointment places, find out more at gov.uk (search ‘passports’).
For the 1 Week service
You need to make an appointment to visit a Passport Customer Service Centre and your passport should arrive in the post within 1 week of your appointment.
If you are abroad
You can apply for an emergency travel document(otherwise known as an emergency passport).
You will need to assess whether you are eligible to apply, find out at gov.uk (search ‘passports’).
Re-new a lost passport
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.
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.
If you have lost your passport you’re not alone
In 2014 – 2015 British high commissions had to attend to 470,000 enquiries to assist Britons having lost their passport, across the globe.
The most enquiries came from Spain, followed by the USA and Thailand.
The British passport is considered to be the fourth most valuable passport in the world. It allows visa-free access to 175 states.
More than 20,000 Britons report a lost passport each year, some having been stolen. Most of the thefts mainly occur in Spain followed by the USA, France and Australia.
Replacing a lost USA passport
In the event of a USA passport being lost or stolen, it must be reported by filling out form DS-64.
After this a replacement can be applied for as though you are applying for a new passport.
It takes 6 to 8 weeks in the USA. You must make sure that all the application details are filled in correctly or the process will take longer.
If you lose your passport while travelling outside of the USA you can get a replacement by visiting the nearest US embassy or consulate general. Here you will be issued with an emergency passport which will have limitations.
A lost passport doesn’t need to be a drama.
There are things you can do to prepare.
Make two A4 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 to get you out of trouble.
Take copies of your passport photos with you. They will speed things along if you find yourself negotiating to renew a passport where ever you are.
Take photocopies of your credit cards and any other cards and documents of identification and keep it in a secure place about your person or store it in a secure, password protected folder on the web.
Take with you any evidence of your citizenship.
Store secure copies on the web
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.
It may be an option to email this information to yourself before travelling but you will need to be creative at ‘encrypting’ this so that you understand it but an email-hacker would have no chance.
Be creative to be secure
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 with the information that you need being on a layer behind another image.
There is free graphic software called ‘Gimp’ that will help you with this.
On the face of it, these graphic files will look like something totally banal and of no consequence.
When you return home, delete this information to remove any possible risk.
Make a list of phone numbers
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 every where 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.
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