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Lost passports abroad cost Brits £3.5m

10 February 2016

As official figures show a 22% increase in the number of emergency travel documents issued, Gocompare.com urges holidaymakers to keep their passports safe

  • Cost of replacing a passport abroad is at least £167.50;
  • One in ten travel policies exclude cover for passports;
  • Where cover is available, the typical cover limit for lost/stolen passports is £200 to £500.

Gocompare.com is warning Brits travelling abroad to keep their passports safe from loss or damage as official figures show a 22% increase in the number of emergency travel documents issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)This means, collectively, Brits are paying out at least £3.5m in fees for emergency and replacement passports*.

Losing your passport abroad can be an expensive and time consuming process.  And, arranging emergency travel documents to get you back to the UK can take several days out of your precious holiday time.

Emergency travel documents (ETD) are provided to British travellers as last-minute replacements for lost, stolen, damaged passports abroad.  Between April 2014 and March 2015, the FCO provided 37,890 emergency travel documents to Brits abroad.  Over 20,600 passports were also reported as lost or stolen.**

It costs at least £167.50 to replace a lost or stolen passport abroad.  Obtaining an ETD costs £95, (plus travel costs to the embassy or consulate, replacement photographs and, any replacement visas you may need for your journey) and when you get back to the UK, the fee for an adult replacement passport is £72.50.  

Most travel insurance policies provide some cover for the costs associated with obtaining emergency travel documents while you are abroad. However, policies generally don’t cover the cost of replacing your passport when you return to the UK.

Insurers will expect you to treat your passport as a valuable and keep it safe – either on your person or in a locked room or safe.  They will generally exclude cover if the passport has been stolen while unattended, this includes leaving it in a parked car unless the passport is stowed out of sight in a boot or other storage compartment.

Of those policies providing cover:

  • 21% of annual and single trip policies will only pay-out £50 to £150 per person;
  • Most travel insurance policies (73% annual, 72% single trip) have a cover limit of £200 to £500;
  • 10% of annual and 6% of single trip policies provide cover of £600 to £5,000.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you will need to obtain a report from the local police.  You will need this to obtain replacement travel documents.  You will also have to arrange new passport photographs and visit the local British consulate or embassy to complete the necessary ETD paperwork.  You will also need to cancel your missing passport to prevent someone else using it.

Insurers also require you to report the theft or loss to the police, usually within 24 hours of discovery and obtain a written police report.  You may also have to notify your insurer of the loss within a specific timeframe, again typically 24 hours.  To support your claim, your insurer will ask for receipts for any expenses – such as travel to and from the embassy - relating the purchase of emergency travel documents.   

Gocompare.com’s travel insurance spokesperson, Tom Lewis commented; “Losing your passport abroad can ruin your holiday and leave you seriously out of pocket.  Your passport provides proof of your identity, so, if it’s badly damaged, for example as a result of water damage, the information and/or photo are less clear or electronic chip is damaged, you may not be able to use it.

“So, we are urging holidaymakers to keep their passports safe.  While you are travelling keep it in a secure bag or inside pocket.  If you don’t need it with you, for example if you’re spending a day on the beach, leave it in a hotel safe.

“The FCO advises travellers to take two photocopies of their passport and to leave one with someone at home and take the other with you, keeping it separate from the original.  So, if you are unfortunate enough to be parted from your passport, the copy documents will help the process of obtaining new documents quicker and easier.”

Visit Gocompare.com’s guide for more information on travel insurance.

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Notes to editors:

*ETD cost £95 (or the equivalent in local currency). Cost of replacing or renewing an adult passport in UK is £72.50.  £95 + £72.50 = £167.50.  20,663 x 167.50 = £3,461,052.50

**Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) report ‘Helping British Nationals Abroad’ (April 2014 – March 2015),20,663 passports were reported stolen or lost and the FCO issued 37,890 emergency travel documents (31,134 were issued in 2013/14).

***Defaqto Matrix of 636 annual travel and 631 single trip travel insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (21 September 2015).Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.