Travellers insight: Emergency passport

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Lost, stolen or damaged passport? Sounds like a disaster, right? An emergency UK passport is actually not as bad as you may think. Here's how to go about getting a emergency British passport in Europe when you need to get home but you have no passport.

Emergency Passport as part of the Travellers Insight series

My experience - Why I needed an emergency passport

Firstly, I should start by saying I had my passport (along with all my other belongings) stolen from the back of a van in a LIDL car park, just outside of the stunning Italian town of Peschiera del Garda. I won't lie, I was devastated. I treasured my Cambodian passport stamps and visa and I was part of the miniscule percentage of people that actually like their passport picture. Sigh. This post most definitely only applies to Brits, as I'm a British passport holder and my tips come from my personal experience getting an emergency one from the British Consulate General Milan.

A moment of stupidity allowed me to leave my laptop bag (with my passport tucked firmly inside) in plain sight in the van, in a car park. Upon returning from the supermarket I found all my belongings, including my passport to be missing. I hunted the local area, checked in bins and down ditches in the hopes that someone had taken the valuables and dumped my beloved passport. No passport, no evidence, no CCTV footage, nothing, nada. I had lost everything. 

Stranded in Italy with 10 weeks ahead of me and no passport. The prospects of applying for another UK passport whilst working in Italy were daunting. I first had to declare my passport stolen and produce a police report to back up the claim. I then had to fill out a stolen-passport-replacement-passport form. Which took forever, I had to provide my passport number. My parents passport numbers, new photos and a counter signature. The biggest problem being, I was in Italy.

Passport-less problems

The important point to remember is that if you passport is stolen you must get a police report to prove so, also you need this for travel insurance purposes (something that you should realistically always have). 

The lack-of-passport problem persisted when the passport office (British Consulate General) in Milan, Italy. didn't believe I me when I was unable to recite my passport number and had no photocopy. I used to have photocopies of my passport, you know in case of an emergency. They were all saved on my now missing laptop, which had been stolen, with the passport and everything else I own. It was 2013 and I hadn't found Google Drive yet. Always keep a copy of your passport on your Google Drive and somewhere in your emails when travelling.

Travellers Insight - Always have a copies of your important documents somewhere, even if it's with a family member back home... I've mentioned this before in my Travel Hacks post on packing right.

Life without my passport

My  no-phone-no-bank-card problems only added to my no passport problem. Until my parents were able to get new ones to me I couldn't actually pay for a passport, or contact anyone about it. If anyone has ever lived in Italy you'll understand how hit and miss the postal system can be. It took weeks to receive these items from the UK. Still, none of this made obtaining a passport  any easier. I couldn't exactly post everything off and hope I'd receive a shiny new passport in the Italian post with no complications.

So, what did I do? Nothing. I ignored the problem until it was time to come home. This is where the emergency passport comes in, I read somewhere in the midst of my research all about the ultimate lifesaver. The emergency passport. 

Getting home on an emergency passport

Getting an emergency passport is a relatively straightforward process, especially if you prepare in advance. Check online for British passport offices and embassies.  I was lucky that Milan was only a short train right away and that's where my flight was from. Preferably don't leave it until a couple of hours before your flight because there are time restrictions on obtaining an emergency travel document.

There are limits on how early before travelling you can get an emergency passport all this information can be found online. Take your passport documents, police report, photos and some form of identification to the embassy. Sit tight and be polite and expect your white UK emergency passport to be with you in the hour.

A white emergency passport, stating 'emergency' with the classic gold coat or armour on the front that can only be used per one flight. Expect to have your emergency passport snatched off you at customs upon entering the homeland. I had hoped to keep mine as a souvenir of my Italian troubles. But somewhere once-upon-a-time the rule changed and UK emergency passports became single enter only. You cannot, under any circumstances go travelling on an emergency passport or use it more than once.

Click here for more from the Travellers Insight series

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  1. It is SO stressful when you have to deal with these things! Thanks for sharing- so good for people to be prepared!

    1. Super stressful especially because I had to leave everything until the morning before my flight! Thanks for reading :)

  2. helpful article, it's really a disaster if something happens to your passport! as for any travelers, this is like our most treasured thing! thanks for sharing this article! :)

    1. Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for your comment. I certainly hope you never have to use this advice.


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