Cover for lost passports
If your passport is lost or stolen it can be expensive to replace - find out what your travel insurance will and won't offer compensation for.
Does travel insurance cover a lost passport?
Losing your passport abroad can be expensive and stressful, but your travel insurance is there to help.
Most policies offer cover for the cost of getting an emergency travel document (ETD) you can use in place of a passport to get home. Every policy is different though, so it's best to see what's included before taking it out.
- Travel insurance policies usually cover some of the costs associated with getting an emergency travel document (ETD) if you lose your passport abroad
- Cover levels vary, so have a quick read of the policy details to see what your insurance covers
- An ETD is not a long-term substitute for a passport
- Most policies won’t pay for the cost of replacing and renewing your passport when you get home
How much does an emergency travel document (ETD) or a replacement passport cost?
When applying for an ETD, you’ll need to go to the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate to collect it when it’s ready – you may need to make an appointment. It could be a long drive, train trip or even a flight away. So, you’ll have to pay for transportation to get there, plus for new passport photos and any replacement visas you might need.
An ETD allows you to travel home through a maximum of five countries. The countries you’re travelling from and to, plus dates, are printed on the emergency travel document.
Insurance cover if your passport is stolen on your trip
According to Defaqto, 98% of 1,046 annual travel insurance policies include cover for loss of passports, and 79% of polices have cover of £250 or more
Typically, you’ll be covered for the costs you incur to get an ETD, up to the maximum amount stated in your policy.
Costs you can typically claim for include expenses like extra travel, communication and administration costs. And even new flights and accommodation if you have to lengthen your stay. Plus, the cost of the temporary ETD itself.
Some providers have 24-hour helplines which can advise you on how to get your ETD and complete the replacement passport forms.
Not all travel insurance providers cover the cost of replacing your passport when you return to the UK. Those that do might pay a proportion of the cost, depending on the amount of time that was left on your passport when it was stolen, lost or destroyed.
For claims to be paid, you’ll have needed to have kept your passport safe. You won’t be covered if your passport gets stolen when left unattended. Unless it’s in a safe, safety deposit box or in locked accommodation.
You may not be covered if you leave your passport in a locked, parked car, though there might be an exception if the passport was well hidden.
Some, but not all providers waive the excess claim fee in a lost or stolen passport claim - read your policy documents to check.
What to do if your passport is lost or stolen
If your passport is lost or stolen when you’re abroad, you’ll need to:
- Cancel your passport and report it so no one else can use it or your identity. You can do this by filling in an LS01 form.
- Send or take it to the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country you’re visiting. Find out where the nearest one to you is: gov.uk.
- Apply for an ETD. You can apply online.
- After submitting your application you’ll get a confirmation email. Then an email letting you know how and when to collect your ETD. It’s normally ready to collect two working days after you apply but may be ready sooner.
- If you need to book new flights, don’t finalise your travel plans until you’ve had confirmation that your ETD has been issued.
- Get a police report within 24 hours if your passport is stolen - you’ll need this to get your ETD and to make any claims on your travel insurance. Some police authorities won’t issue a report for lost passports. But you need to show that you’ve tried to report the loss with the police.
- Get in touch with your travel insurance provider if it covers lost or stolen passports - they can discuss how to make a claim.
- Keep receipts for any expenses so your insurance company can reimburse you when you get home.
If your flight tickets have also been lost or stolen with your passport, call the airline or your holiday provider to see if they can reissue your tickets. They might do this for free or you may have to pay an admin charge.
And if your wallet and money have been stolen, report it to the police. You’ll need to demonstrate that you did this if you want to make a claim on your travel insurance.
What documents do I need to get an ETD?
Typically, you’ll need:
- Your passport number, if you know it.
- Copy of an identity document. For example, a photocopy of your passport or a valid driving licence.
- A police crime or incident reference number confirming where and when your passport was stolen.
- Proof of your travel plans - like booking confirmations.
- Two recent identical passport-sized photographs.
Is there such a thing as an 'emergency passport'?
No. Although the term is commonly used to refer to an ETD, there’s no such thing as an ‘emergency passport’.
An ETD is not a substitute for an actual passport - it’s only valid to get you to a specified destination. UK border staff usually keep your ETD so it can’t be used again.
If you lose your passport while you’re in the UK, you can apply for a passport urgently, as long as you have a valid reason why you need to get your passport faster than normal.
You can’t apply for a passport urgently if you’re outside the UK.
What if my passport has been damaged?
If your passport has been badly damaged on holiday and details on it are indecipherable, then you won’t be able to use it. Your travel insurance should help cover the costs of getting an ETD.
What if I lose my passport before going on holiday?
If you lose your passport or it’s stolen, report the loss or theft online.
You’ll need to apply for a replacement passport. But if your trip is less than a month away, you’ll have to use a fast-track service. You can find out how to get a passport urgently here.
You’ll need to attend an appointment at your nearest passport office. There are passport customer service centres at Belfast, Birmingham, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport and Peterborough.
Your travel insurance provider may help with some of the costs of getting a replacement passport. Things like transport, accommodation, and any administration expenses.
Some providers will pay towards cancellation costs, or alternative travel, if you were unable to get a replacement passport in time for your scheduled travel. Check your policy documents and always keep receipts.
How to keep your passport safe on holiday
Here are some top tips:
- Lock your passport in a safe if your accommodation has one.
- Be vigilant with your bags if you’re carrying your passport with you - carry them close to your body and keep it in a separate internal pocket.
- Don’t leave your bags unattended and avoid hanging them on the back of your chair in restaurants.
- Never leave your passport in a rental car - they’re prime targets for thieves.
- Make a photocopy of your passport - take one on holiday with you and leave one with a friend or family member at home. This’ll help you get an ETD if your passport is lost or stolen while you’re away.
Passports after Brexit
You must check your passport validity well in advance of travelling and renew it as soon as possible, if you need to.
On the day you travel, your passport will need to:
- have at least six months left on it from the date you return from your trip.
- be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left).
If you don’t renew your passport to meet these criteria, you won’t be allowed to travel to European Union countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
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