Do you know where your passport is?

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  • Anonymous

    Tom Otley

    Press release

    Latest Government figures show that more than 60,000 British travellers reported their passport lost or stolen abroad between April 2009 and March 2010.

    This is despite new research by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), which shows that 83 per cent of people say they always store their passport in a safe place.

    IPS is today urging passport holders to take a few simple steps to keep their documents safe abroad and in the UK.

    Steps include:

    ? when travelling, take two photocopies of your passport, leaving one at home and keeping one separate from your passport;

    ? keep your passport with you when travelling to your destination;

    ? think about where it is best to keep your passport at home and abroad;

    ? be wary if you are asked to surrender your passport; and

    ? report a lost or stolen passport to the local police and inform the British Consulate when abroad and to IPS and the police when in the UK.

    Sarah Rapson, Chief Executive of IPS, said:
    “It is vital that people take care of their passports, both at home and abroad. Passports are increasingly attractive documents to organised criminals.

    “Hijacking someone else’s identity can help facilitate a wide range of very serious crimes.”

    When a person reports their passport lost or stolen, IPS logs the details and cancels it on its system. It then notifies immigration and law enforcement agencies around the world to try and minimise the risk of it being misused.


    1. IPS replaced more than 279,000 passports that were lost or stolen in the UK or abroad between April 2009 and March 2010. Of that total, more than 60,000 passports were lost or stolen abroad. Since 2002, a total of 2.2 million passports have been replaced by IPS.

    2. An adult passport costs £77.50 for standard service and £112.50 for the one-week Fast Track service. A child passport costs £49 for standard service and £96.50 for the one-week Fast Track service. The Premium one-day service is not available for replacement passports.

    3. IPS asked a sample of 1,553 UK Passport holders during Spring and Summer 2009 whether they always stored their passport in a really safe place. Of those who responded, 83 per cent agreed. Around 74 per cent of those who responded between the ages of 16 to 24 agreed. This rose to 92 per cent among 66 to 75 year olds who were questioned.

    4. All passport losses or thefts abroad should be reported to the local police in the relevant country as soon as possible. You should report the theft or loss to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) embassy, consulate or high commission of the country you are in.

    You can get details of your local FCO office wherever you are by calling (0)20 7008 1500 (0870 606 0290 within the UK) or by visiting the FCO website.

    5. For further information on what to do if your passport has been lost or stolen in the UK, visit the IPS website or call the advice line on 0300 222 0000.


    Hi All,

    I completely agree with Site Admin and can give you a warning tale (at least for the Brits amongst us).

    June 2008, Helsinki, Finland. Muggins here lost his passport, having been to an ATM, put money in wallet, but not put wallet properly in pocket. Result – everything lost.

    I didn’t realise this at first. Trotted off to the Hotel Kamp bar with a mate, generously offered to buy drinks and then, when it came to pay, realisation dawned. I went back to where it must’ve dropped from my pocket but, of course, there was no sign.

    Contents of Wallet:

    1 credit card,
    2 debit cards,
    1 Star Alliance Gold Card,
    1 Finnair Silver Card,
    1 Hilton Diamond Card,
    1 SPG Gold Card,
    1 Gym Card,
    1 driving licence,
    EUR 500 (just withdrawn from the ATM!),
    quite a lot in other assorted currencies,

    My whole identity had been lost. Plus, I had no way of paying for my room at the (late lamented and wonderful) Palace Hotel.

    I went to the police, registered the loss and, as it was a weekday, was able to go to the British Embassy the next day.

    At the Embassy they identified me with no problem, using their existing on-line database, which includes all passport details (including photos). Once identified, the face-to-face conversation went something like this:

    Overbearing and extremely condescending Miss Brodie sound-alike from FCO: “You do realise it will cost you x (don’t remember how much but around EUR 180) as a fee for a new passport?

    Me: “Er, yes.”

    Miss Brodie: “You do HAVE money?”

    Me: “Yes, (thinks – probably a lot more than you, you unpleasant so-and-so), but I’m not sure how to get it as I have lost all my ID.”

    I needed my passport to get the money; but couldn’t get the passport without money. Not an easy circle to square.

    To cut what would be a long posting short, suffice it to say that I could not get the message into her thick head that I could get my bank to ID me and transfer money to a Finnish bank, but there was no way that I could ID myself to the Finnish bank to pick the money up. I was effectively a non-person (no change there, some of my friends would say).

    I was not allowed to directly transfer the money to the Embassy (“Against procedure” according to Miss Brodie) nor did she make any constructive suggestion as to how I solved this issue.

    To cut a long story short, in the end I borrowed money off Finnish friends and got my passport within a few hours. My Finnish friends were appalled by the lack of help from the FCO and contrasted that with the service they get from their Foreign Ministry is things go tits-up when abroad.

    The simple fact is that if you lose all ID and access to money as I did, and you are a UK citizen, you are screwed unless you know people who will lend you funds. The banks are helpful but not HMFCO. If that had happened to me in Ulan Bator or somewhere remote, I’d probably still be there (and a good thing too, some of my dear friends would say).

    The mortal of the story is to do as recommended in the post above. Also, do not be a twit like me and carry everything in one place. Furthermore, I would go as far as to say that in most countries where you must carry your passport by law, carry only a photocopy. If you do get minor grief from the law for only having a photocopy, that is still easy to resolve. Much easier than trying to resolve the issue of a lost passport.

    Oh, a final twist for you – despite having your photos on the database and being able to ID you for the new passport, you still have to get two photos and have one of them countersigned by someone in a position of authority. I was able to do this is Helsinki but had that been Kinshasa…..

    Just don’t lose your passport folks. It’s one hell of a lot of hassle.

    Cheers, Smon


    Carrying on from Simon – I carry 2 UK passports on all trips and they are kept seperately. I also have copies of all credit cards and ID cards kept securely on my lap top and server. These are checked frequently and updated.

    I am fortunate in that I have never lost a passport or had any sort of ID theft. I have always feared trying to argue with the banks, that it was not me taking money out of my account guv, honest.

    I speak to banks before each trip when I am using debit cards to withdraw money to confirm which countries I am visiting and that there should never be a cash withdrawal for more than £200 per day.

    I have also made sure that the accounts I use for expenses and have ATM cards never have more than £500 credit and that they have zero overdraft facility. If there are insufficient funds in the account then the charge should be refused.

    I hope you find this useful.


    I’ve also seen advice to store the image of a copy of your passport online, or at least the details of number, expiry etc.

    FCO (aka Rome airport) says above “think about where it is best to keep your passport at home and abroad” – ok what about abroad, especially leaving it in hotels v carrying it with you? And on the subject of hotels, what about where they insist on keeping your passport at reception for the first night? – above says be wary when asked to surrender it. And what about the photocopies they take of it (although Travelex in UK airports do the same)?

    And any ideas how to keep the 2nd photocopy separate from the original, which they also advise above to keep with you when travelling, while doing that very activity?


    Rather than carry the original passport around with me I carry a notarised copy. I have another copy as a spare.

    I was unfortunate enough to have my passport stolen a few years ago and when I called the Passport Office to tell them I was told that they weren’t interested in hearing about stolen passports and no they wouldn’t keep any record of stolen passport numbers…


    Paul – great idea about the notarised copy. However, is the notarisation recognisable outside the UK, one wonders (e.g by a cop in downtown Brussels where, by law, you must carry the original passport with you? And that’s an easy example, compared to Baku or Bolton….).

    Are you still also up for 23rd?

    Cheers, Simon


    MichelAngelo – when would a notorised copy of your passport be useful? As far photocopies, as per a previous thread, be wary of all photocopiers in hotels, offices are anywhere that have a hard drive. The machine will store a copy of any document / card / id that is copied. The best advice is to takephotocopies with you and hand these over. Like a credit card, i do not let my passport go out of sight.

    Where hotels insist on id being kept overnight I tend to leave my company or crew ID card, but never my passport.


    I’ve never tested the notarised copy on anyone ‘official’ but it works quite well in Europe for unofficial id requests eg paying with a credit card in Spanish shops… don’t know how well it would stand up to a police inspection since other than at entry and exit points I’ve never actually been stopped.

    I’m still up for the 23rd.


    Making some suggestions that I follow: 1. Scan relevant pages of passport and sent to your own address at Yahoo mail or Gmail and archive so that a copy could be printed even in Kinsasa. 2. Keep one copy of passport, credit cards inside suitcase at hotel. 3. Leave passport at hotel where there is a locker. 4. Always carry 2 wallets, keep at least $200 and at least one credit card and driving licence in one wallet and keep that in inside pocket of jacket or side pocket of pants. The regular wallet stays at back pocket for daily uses. 5. Mobile phones to save as many friends’ / acquientances number possible in as many countries – just in case to borrow money. So far I am fortunate I did not loose any wallet – however lost some money which I kept on side pocket as emergency (before my 2 wallet days). 6. During summar, while going out in the evening to bar/restaurant, it will be good not to tuck the shirt so that pockets are not exposed.


    A pleasant story for you – not all of my travels are disastrous (it just seems like it).

    InterContinental Hotel Bucharest, Summer 1992.

    In the days before ATMs and easy access to cash, and only 30 months after the Romanian Revolution, I found myself in Bucharest, as you do. On arrival at the InterCon, I founds that there were only a small number of safety deposit boxes for a very large hotel and none were available for my use. In my briefcase I had a large amount of money in GBP and USD, expecting to settle most of my bills in cash (as I had been advised).

    After check-in I went to my room and then the restaurant. I took my (unlocked) briefcase with me, complete with contents. I ate surprisingly well and imbibed a few. Again, as one does.

    I returned to my room. A short time later there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find a member of staff with my briefcase in hand, telling me that I had left it behind in the restaurant. Presumably he’d picked up my room number from the bill I’d signed.

    I regret to say that I was too shocked even to remember to tip him.

    The contents of my unlocked briefcase was fully intact. I wonder, however, whether the same would happen in Summer 2010.



    I am a dual national, so have two passports. I also carry an ID card which is credit card sized and valid throughout the EU. I tend to use this while in Europe but, if overseas, I use my passport to enter/exit and only carry the id when traveling internally. This serves very well for hotels, banks etc.

    I once had stolen from my room safe all my credit cards, cash and passports. I had the samechicken and egg problem as you Simon at the embassy. I could not get cash from western union without a passport, and embassy would not issue passport with being paid first.

    I knew no-one who could help me but was very lucky when I insisted on speaking to the Ambassador, and it turned out he was best buddies with a very good friend of mine who used to be the Ambassador to Cairo. A quick phone call with him established my credentials, the passport was issued on tick and he personally lent me $500 all of which could be repaid by bank transfer when I got home.

    In addition he arranged for my replacement credit card (which my wife took to the Foreign Office) to be sent down in the diplomatic bag and had it bought over to my hotel by his driver. Now that was service, and I don’t know how many rules he broke but both have now retired so they can no longer be fired.

    However, I did ask him what could lesser mortals do who faced the same problem. It is true they cannot accept money transferred to the the Embassy, but a friend or relative can take cash to the FO who will then authorise the Embassy to issue the passport and hand out emergency funds up to the amount paid in.

    However, speaking to a friend of mine at the Embassy here, it now seems the rules have changed. The embassy will only issue an emergency passport allowing you to travel home, and that’s it. If you need a full passport it has to come from one of several regional centres.

    For example Singapore, China and Malaysia the centre is in Hong Kong. Most of sub saharan Africa it’s in Nairobi etc. Worse, this can take a month or longer to obtain.

    The very best advice I can give if you have two passports, is leave one at home, or in the office along with a credit card and debit card and a few travel checks. In the event of loss or theft, these can then be couriered to your hotel. Much safer and probably much quicker as well.


    Hi Lugano,

    Very interesting stuff indeed – and very worrying too.

    I could do with getting a second passport as I always have to plan my visa applications around my travel plans, which is sometimes not easy.

    I understand that to get a second passport, one’s employer has to provided a reasoned statement to the FCO/Passport Agency. As I am MD of my Company, I clearly can’t do that for myself. Can my co-director do so and, if so, what are the chances of a successful application?

    Does anyone know the current rules for UK citizens?

    Many thanks (as usual), Simon


    Dear Simon

    Ask your company secretary to write the letter. As long as a rational reason is provided, there shouldnt be a problem.



    I find it key to terrorise my family with a game of “Where the F**K is it?” almost every time I go away…………

    On the subject of dual passports I got several clients to write letters of support when I needed one two years ago

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