There aren’t many holiday nightmares that are worse than losing your passport abroad; whether it’s been stolen or just misplaced, it can make getting back home a huge hassle. However, you won’t be stuck in the country forever. Should you find yourself in this awkward situation, there is a procedure in place that you will need to go through in order to get back home. This procedure can be a little complicated, as authorities need to ensure that you are travelling lawfully, so you still need to make sure you keep that passport safe. Nonetheless, you should make sure you are aware of what you need to do just in case it gets lost, to help you get home quickly and smoothly.

Getting back home

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are abroad, you will likely need an emergency travel document to get home. Emergency travel documents, sometimes referred to as emergency passports, will allow you to return to your final destination should your passport be lost or stolen, however it doesn’t come without its restrictions.

An emergency passport will only be eligible for a specified trip, meaning you will have to go on a specific flight, at a specific time, to a specific destination. This destination will be the one you specify on your application, so make sure you put your home country on the travel document, otherwise you will need to apply for another emergency travel document once you reach this country to get back home.

This doesn’t mean you will have to travel directly to your final destination, an emergency travel document lets you travel to your destination via a maximum of 5 different countries, so you will be able to catch a connecting flight if necessary, but again, this connection will have to be specified on the emergency travel document itself.

It’s also worth noting that an emergency travel document alone may not guarantee you entry to a country. An emergency travel document essentially acts as a temporary replacement passport and nothing more, so if you are travelling to a country that usually requires additional documents to gain entry, such as a visa, it is likely that you will still need these to gain entry to the country.

Applying for an emergency travel document

As you may have guessed, to get hold of an emergency travel document you will need to apply for one, and as you also may have guessed, it is not a simple process. To be eligible for an emergency travel document, you will need to be a British national outside the UK and you will have to be able to provide proof of your travel plans by presenting things such as booking confirmations. You will also only be issued with an emergency travel document if you don’t have time to replace your passport (which is likely, as this usually takes 3 weeks, and you aren’t eligible for urgent passport replacements when you’re abroad).

Once you’ve completed your application, you will be told when you will receive your emergency travel document, which normally takes two days to be ready. You will also be charged a non-refundable fee of £100 to apply, and you may have to attend an appointment at your nearest British embassy/high commission/consulate. If you do have to attend an appointment, you will be told about it after you apply.

So, although you will be able to get home if you lose your passport, you shouldn’t begin treating it as an unessential document. As well as costing £100, getting back home will also cost you a lot more time than it normally would.