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The Emergency Travel Document PDF Printable Version E-mail


The Emergency Travel Document

Don Madge
November 2010

While doing research for a future trip, I came across some disturbing news.

In the past, if you lost your passport while away you went to the local embassy/high commission/consulate and obtained a new one.

It appears that the government has now set up British Passport Processing Centres abroad. They mainly deal with issuing British passports for expats and such like but if you lose your passport you might have to apply to one for a replacement passport.

Most embassies/consulates can still issue emergency travel documents if you need to get home quickly.

The ones that affect most of us are in:

Paris: http://ukinfrance.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/passports/

Madrid: http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/passports/

Dusseldorf: http://ukingermany.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/passports/

The following link will help you find the country you want and then check on lost passports, which will give details of the processing centre you need: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/find-an-embassy/

It appears you can get back home to the UK without a passport if it is lost in the EU. It seems the Border Agency will accept a photo copy of the passport; also a photo card driving licence will help.

If the passport is lost outside the EU it could become a real night mare. For example, if you need a replacement passport in Turkey you have to go to either Ankara or Istanbul and visit the embassy/consulate. Once the documentation is completed, the application is sent off (at your expense) to Dusseldorf and it can take up to four weeks for the new passport to get back to you. The new passport will be minus the entry visa for Turkey, so I suggest in future that you not only photocopy your passport but also any current visa.

Emergency Travel Document (ETD) issued outside the EU

Below is the reply from the British Embassy in Damascus, answering my questions about the limitations of an ETD. I've been very happy with their service; they have been very helpful. (The cost of the ETD varies from country to country - I think something like a 100 minimum per person. This is just a very rough estimate.)

What is an Emergency Travel Document?

Unlike your normal passport, which is valid for 10 years, an Emergency Travel Document is valid for a specific journey within a specified time. It can be issued quickly, to enable you to travel at short notice.

How can I obtain an Emergency Travel Document?

By September 2010, all but a handful of British Embassies/High Commissions and Consulates (and in some countries Honorary Consuls) will be able to issue Emergency Travel Documents. Where this service is not available, you will still be offered consular assistance or advised to travel to the nearest UK Emergency Travel Document issuing Post.

Am I eligible for an Emergency Travel Document?

Any British national who needs to travel urgently and does not have access to their full passport can apply for an Emergency Travel Document.

Where can I travel to on an Emergency Travel Document?

When you apply for an Emergency Travel Document you will be asked to provide an itinerary for your journey. Your Emergency Travel Document will show the countries that you intend to travel to, or through.

If you are resident in the country in which you are applying for an Emergency Travel Document, and need to return, the Emergency Travel Document can be issued for a return journey.

How long is the Emergency Travel Document valid for?

Your Emergency Travel Document will be issued for a specific journey, within a specified time, after which it will become invalid. Some countries require a traveller to have 6 or 9 months validity on their passport in order to enter the country. This will be recorded in your Emergency Travel Document. This does not mean that the document can be used again. It can only be used for the journey shown on the observation page.

How many countries can I travel to on an Emergency Travel Document? Are there any countries that will not accept them?

You can travel via 5 countries on an Emergency Travel Document. The Emergency Travel Document meets international standards for emergency travel documents and should be acceptable worldwide. We have had extensive consultations with other countries to ensure that the Emergency Travel Document meets their entry requirements. In some countries (including the USA), you may still need to apply for a visa.

Can I travel to a country not named on the Emergency Travel Document?


What do I do if my plans change after I have purchased an Emergency Travel Document?

The travel itinerary contained on your Emergency Travel Document cannot be changed. If your plans change after the document has been issued, you will need to apply, and pay, for a new Emergency Travel Document.

Can I make a return journey on the Emergency Travel Document?

Yes, but only if you are resident in the country you are travelling from. A return Emergency Travel Document cannot be used by tourists wishing to return overseas to complete a holiday as their re-entry into the country is not guaranteed. You need to provide an exact travel itinerary to the Consular Officer issuing the Emergency Travel Document so that your return journey can be included on the observation page.

Once I have finished my journey, what should I do with my Emergency Travel Document?

If you are making a single trip back to the UK, the UK Immigration staff will retain your Emergency Travel Document on arrival as it is no longer valid. This may also happen in a number of other countries although practice may vary. If you have an Emergency Travel Document valid for a return journey, you will need to keep it until your journey is complete. If Immigration officials do not retain your Emergency Travel Document, you must return it to your nearest British Diplomatic Mission for destruction. Remember your Emergency Travel Document is only valid for the specified journey. It cannot be used again.

Safe travelling.