Losing important documents such as your passport or your driving licence abroad could be incredibly stressful. However, there are steps you can take to prevent any loss or theft, as well as ways of making sure you get replacement documents as soon as possible if they are lost.
Before you leave the UK
Before setting off on your trip, consider the following precautions:
- Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for an up to date look at the destination you’re about to visit. The FCO offers a country by country guide featuring details on the social and political situation in the area, as well as information on theft hotspots and the types of crime that may be prevalent in the country.
- Consider making a copy of the personal details page of your passport and take note of your passport number. This will help the UK Passport Service issue you with a new one as quickly as possible should it be lost or stolen. Make sure you keep the copy separate from other important items.
- You might want to store scans or photocopies of your passport, driving licence, insurance and any other important documents in a password-protected online account, such as your webmail. If you lose the originals, you can pop into any internet cafe and print off copies, should you need to present them to the authorities in order to get replacements.
- You might want to consider taking out a travel insurance policy before you leave. Some policies will cover the cost of obtaining replacement documents in the event of loss or theft. Read the terms and conditions thoroughly to make sure you’re aware of any circumstances that could void the policy. For example, if the FCO have advised that UK citizens should not travel to a country then your travel insurance will not be valid there.
- It could be worth carrying a combination of currency and cards and/or travellers cheques in a money belt or hidden body wallets for added security and to distribute the risk.
- When staying in a hotel, make sure important documents and valuables are kept in a safety deposit box rather than left in your room. If you don’t take reasonable care to keep important items locked away securely, you won’t be able to claim any loss or theft on your insurance.
- Try to be aware of your surroundings when wandering around unfamiliar cities. Comprehensive guidebooks and the FCO website can be a good place to find advice on areas to avoid or where you should take extra precaution.
What if important items are lost or stolen?
In the event of your important documents being lost or stolen, there are several important steps you should take as soon as possible:
- Inform the police within 24 hours of the loss/theft, or as soon as possible after, and get a written report and reference number.
- Contact the nearest British Consulate, Embassy or High Commission, also within 24 hours or as soon as possible after that. Details of your nearest consulate can be found in the worldwide organisations section of the UK government’s website. They will be able to help you report the loss to the Identity & Passport Service and provide you with replacement travel documentation.
- If any credit or debit cards were lost or stolen, contact your card issuer (most major card issuers have international numbers they can be reached on from overseas) and cancel the missing cards.
Making a travel insurance claim
Depending on the level of cover you have with your insurance provider, you may be able to claim back the cost of a replacement passport, driving licence and other travel documents. Keep your police report and reference number safe as these will need to be submitted to your insurer in order to make a claim. Again, make sure you’re fully aware of the terms and conditions found in your policy booklet before travelling.Travel insurance overview