FCO launches guidance on passport safety

With more than 21,000 British passports lost or stolen last year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is urging British nationals abroad to be #PassportAware and keep their passport safe from thieves with the return of their Passport Hustle campaign.

Most holidaymakers enjoy trouble-free trips.  However valuable holiday time and money can be lost if a passport is lost or stolen as the victim may need to report the theft to the police, as well as spend time at the local Consulate or Embassy so that they can be issued with an emergency travel document (ETD).

The cost of ETDs and new passports for two adults could pay for two additional nights in a mid-range hotel and two meals a day in Tenerife, according to the FCO.  Consulates around the world issued more than 30,000 ETDs last year, and assisted distressed British nationals who had been victims of crime.

To raise awareness of passport hustling techniques and to educate the public on how to avoid this crime, the FCO has produced a second series of short films with fraud and stealth crime expert James Freedman.  These videos show a further four techniques that thieves use to steal passports as well as tips to avoid being a victim.

Tobias Ellwood MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, said:

“While we should all enjoy our holidays, it is important that we remain vigilant about valuables – particularly passports. Becoming a victim of theft or losing your passport could ruin your trip and replacing a passport will cost money and valuable holiday time.

“By following the simple tips included in these videos you can minimise the risk of falling victim to thieves while abroad.”

The FCO’s top tips for keeping your passport safe:

Be aware of your surroundings and be wary of strangers who take an unusual amount of interest in you.

A damaged passport cannot be used for travel, so value it and keep it safe

Lock your passport in a safe if you have access to one, or if you are required to keep it with you, ensure its location is not visible

Make two photocopies of your passport – leave one with friends or family and take the second with you, or store an electronic copy securely. Where permitted, use your photocopy as alternative ID, for example when going out at night

For certain countries your passport must be valid for 6 months after the date you travel – check the entry requirements before you go

Ensure you fill in the emergency details / next of kin page before you go.

The videos are available to be viewed by the public on FCO Travel Facebook,  Twitter and YouTube feeds.

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