According to government statistics last year approximately 80 emergency travel documents are issued every day – or nearly 29,000 a year – to Britons who have lost, had stolen or damaged their passports beyond repair. Since the cost of replacing a lost passport may be as much as £200, which means that travellers are paying some £5 million a year for alternative travel documents.
In order to avoid becoming one of these statistics, the most effective way of course is to avoid losing – or having stolen – your passport in the first place.
Touring by caravan
If you are touring by caravan, the website Caravan Talk suggests that you might consider a safe box securely fitted to the floor of the caravan so that you may lock away your passport, cash and other important documents.
Closing all windows and locking all doors are clearly sensible precautions – as well as obligatory under the terms of your caravan insurance when you leave it.
You might also consider taking important documents, credit cards and cash with you on your person whenever you are leaving the caravan.
The government website also encourages you to make two copies of your passport. The first is intended to be left with friends or relatives for safe keeping, the other to use as an alternative to taking your passport with you if that is acceptable under local rules.
If the worst comes to the worst
However hard you may have looked for your caravan’s insurance quote before you set out, it is unlikely you have found an insurer prepared to pay for the cost of replacing a lost or stolen passport.
This is also true of the policies we provide here at Cover4Caravans, where we suggest that in addition to your touring caravan insurance you also consider the benefits of those travel insurance policies that might offer assistance in the event of a lost or stolen passport.
Despite all your care and attention, if you are unfortunate enough to have your passport stolen or to lose it, your first and immediate port of call is likely to be the local police station to report the event. In the process of doing this, it is important to remember to obtain the incident number or the crime incident log, since this is needed when you are able to contact representatives of the British authorities – the embassy, high commission or consulate – in the country you are visiting.
Here you are likely to given a form LSO1 – a Lost or Stolen Passport Notification – on which you need to record the incident number given to you by the local police. The details on the form are also reported to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) back in the UK, where your lost or stolen passport is then cancelled.
The embassy, high commission or consulate is then able to issue you with a replacement document – typically an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) – to allow you to return to the UK.
Not only is there a fee for the issue of an ETD, but may also have spent a tidy sum travelling back and forwards to the British embassy, high commission or consulate – not to mention the time and effort also required.
To reiterate, therefore, it is likely to be a very good idea to take very good care of your passport whilst you are touring and to take every reasonable step to ensure it is not lost, stolen or made otherwise unusable (some holidaymakers, for example, are reported to have destroyed their passport by hiding it in the washing machine or using it as a beer mat!)