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Is it possible to exit the UK using a canceled passport, or use it to get a replacement within 24 hours?
September 6, 2012 5:11 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is considering traveling from the UK to Spain using a canceled passport, having lost the replacement passport. Is this impossible, illegal, or might she manage it?

This friend of mine -- a UK citizen living in the UK -- lost her passport about a year ago, and was issued with a new one. She is due to travel to Spain in 2 days, but has now lost her new passport. Yes, that's two lost passports.

However... she has miraculously found her old passport, which is still within date, and is not spoiled in any way. It has never been deliberately spoiled by the passport office staff because it has remained lost all this time. So it looks like a valid passport. She also never completed the form reporting it lost/stolen.

We are turning her flat upside down searching for the new, valid passport, but it is looking increasingly hopeless, and likely that it will remain lost.

According to threads on MF, Google searches, and reading official UK government travel websites, she will not be able to get a replacement passport within 24 hours for a lost (or damaged or stolen) passport. But.... she does have the old passport.

So.... the questions are:

Is the old passport actually "canceled" in some way? Is it invalid? She never completed the forms -- might it still be a functioning passport?

Will she be able to use the old passport to get a new (3rd!) replacement passport?

Will she be able to travel using the old passport? We're very doubtful about this. But... let's just pretend that she's going to try it. Personally, I suspect the barcode or ID number would be electronically scanned at the border, and she'd be refused on the plane out of the UK -- or refused back into the UK if she's lucky enough to escape. But is the old passport actually canceled?

I have thoroughly searched MF and Google, but I believe this may be a unique passport conundrum! I doubt anyone will have first-hand experience of similar debacles, but please chime in if you have relevant knowledge or experience! Thanks :)
posted by ajp to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total)
 
Is the passport number the same? If yes, it should work.
posted by easily confused at 5:23 PM on September 6, 2012


She will most certainly not be travelling to Spain.

The old passports of British citizens get automatically cancelled ("the passport issuing system will automatically cancel the old passport from the UK passport database as the new passport is being processed", "IPS will cancel your old passport when a new one is issued" - Google quotes for cites) when a new one is issued. Attempting to travel with a cancelled passport is not advisable.
posted by halogen at 5:29 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If this was possible, a lot of people would suddenly make a lot of money, and a lot of people would suddenly be traveling for the 1st time.

Definitely canceled, with no way of ever reviving the old passport.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:38 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Last time I was in the UK, there weren't any exit checks, so if that's still the case, she shouldn't have any problems leaving the country. Nobody in Spain will care, as long as the passport isn't past its expiry date. She might have a problem when re-entering the UK, but they'll have to let her in eventually, since she's a citizen, though it might be a bit of a hassle.
posted by cerbous at 7:10 PM on September 6, 2012


"Oh crap my old passport must have turned up and I lifted the wrong one". Most likely outcome - will get some crap re-entering the country. Worst case scenario - problems leaving the country or at the spanish border entering spain.
posted by singingfish at 7:19 PM on September 6, 2012


There are definitely exit checks at airports in the UK (visited in Nov 2011 & Jul 2012, left for EU and Feb 2012, left for US); I got hassled a bit since I am the holder of two (valid, different nationalities) passports that I both need depending on direction of travel and had to explain missing stamps, etc.
posted by halogen at 7:49 PM on September 6, 2012


I don't know who she's flying with, but for example Ryanair are required to collect the passport or EU/EEA issued National Identity Card details of all passengers departing from the UK, IRELAND and MOROCCO to Spain.

She may have never filled out a form saying it was lost, but it is definitely officially lost or they would never have given her a new one. Checking in will involve scanning the passport and although I've never tried doing this with a cancelled passport, I assume that it being cancelled will trigger a failure. I am 99% confident that she is not going to get on the plane.

The passport number can't possibly be the same, that would be a massive failure on the behalf of the issuers. A passport number is produced per physical passport.
posted by jacalata at 8:17 PM on September 6, 2012


This is a terrible, terrible idea. Just change the travel date and do it properly. It's not 1965 any more -- passports are scanned and will be flagged if they are out of date.
posted by unSane at 8:18 PM on September 6, 2012


A US friend of mine tried entering Japan with a previously-lost passport that had been replaced. He was turned away and had to fly back to the US. I'm not sure what the situation with the UK and Spain would be, but at least in his situation, using the old passport definitely did not work.
posted by zsazsa at 10:19 PM on September 6, 2012


I don't have any recommendations on trying to use the old passport, but as for getting a replacement quickly, there appears to be no way to replace a lost or stolen passport in less than a week (Fast Track service)-- there is a "premium" one day service* for expired passports that I have used, but that isn't available for lost passports.

If you do make it out of the country safely you will still need a passport to get back in. You could submit the application before you leave, have the passport sent to your home then forwarded on by a friend. If you apply from Spain via the embassy it will take a month (all passport processing now takes place in the UK and they send everything back and forward). Emergency Passports, obtained from the consulate/embassy, with suitable documentation, for a single return trip to the UK are expensive and a pain to get; consulates now seem to only have the barest skeleton staff and they are difficult to contact and deal with.

There used to be ways to get around some of these delays and difficulties, but nowadays things seem to be set up to move everything through the standard channels.

*"One day" is slightly misleading in that they do issue the passport on the same day that you attend the IPS interview, but you still need to arrange for an interview and may well have to wait to get an available appointment.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:21 PM on September 6, 2012


Ex-UKBA policy official here.

Travelling with this passport will not work. She should have no problems getting out of the UK (assuming there are no exit controls on the day you travel) but she will almost certainly not be allowed into Spain. The Spanish will have the details of all cancelled UK passports and hers will be flagged as soon as it is scanned on arrival. She will then be out on the next flight back to UK.

She will then face lengthy questioning on arrival in the UK.

Change the Travel date or find the actual valid passport.

Sorry
posted by tonylord at 12:22 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hi all. Thanks for the feedback. Yep, I tend toward the "impossible/insane" attitude too, but she's obviously very upset, so we're exploring all options.

More questions and replies coming...
posted by ajp at 12:37 AM on September 7, 2012


weird how there are different answers. all authoritative.

I just travelled from Toulon Hyeres airport in France to London Stansted, and back, on Ryanair. Both airports used only a visual check of the passport outbound (and only a very quick glance at that), no computer systems were involved. At Toulon there was a visual check entering, and at Stanstead there was an electronic scan entering.

Whilst I wouldn't advise your friend takes her chances, it may just work! Flying into a shitty small airport in the backwoods might just be OK.
posted by jannw at 12:46 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kruger5 said:
If this was possible, a lot of people would suddenly make a lot of money, and a lot of people would suddenly be traveling for the 1st time. Definitely canceled, with no way of ever reviving the old passport.
That's what I suspect. It does make sense that all IDs from all issued passports are retained indefinitely, and marked as canceled. And all ID numbers are potentially checked at border control.

However.....


They're not always checked. Sometimes border control take a cursory glance at a passport. Sometimes they don't even do that.

There are 6 points it may be checked:

1. Exiting the UK border.
2. Boarding the plane -- although she's already checked-in online, and does have the option to change her passport number on the booking system.
3. Arriving in Spain.
4. Exiting the Spanish border.
5. Boarding the return plane.
6. Arriving in the UK.

Personally I think it would be impossible that her passport wouldn't be examined at one of these 6 points. However, visually, it appears to be a valid passport. It would have to be checked electronically. Steps 2 and 5, boarding the planes, may work if she updates the ID number online. That leaves 4 other steps.

Steps 3 and 4: Are ID numbers of all international passports accessible instantly by all border authorities? Will the Spanish passport control be able to check the canceled passport ID electronically? If not, she may pass through, since it's a visually valid.

If they can and do check at step 3, she'll be denied entrance to Spain. What can happen here? Can she even return to the UK? I presume there is a strict procedure here, I shall turn to Google -- if anyone knows what is the worst that can happen, please comment here.

Ditto for step 4 -- what's the worst that can happen? Will she be able to go to the UK embassy? Presumably her passport will be retained. Might it be best for her, if she actually makes it into Spain, to present herself at the UK embassy straight away, plead innocence and a mistake, and try to get a valid passport for return travel?

That leaves steps 1 and 6. If she fails at step 1, that's it -- turn around, head home, and try the official routes for replacing her lost passport. If she fails at step 6, she'll be in a UK airport on UK soil, and will have passed through all 5 other steps -- she might be detained and be in an awful lot of trouble, but I think she could potentially plead ignorance, saying she must have picked up her old passport. But what's the worst that could happen here? Could she end up with a criminal record? I doubt it. She could be detained, fined, and incur huge expense. Anything else?

Of course, it would be hugely inadvisable to travel. I personally don't rate the odds of getting away with it, and I think it's a potential step to expense and detention. I'm just wondering if there are any options at all. My strong advice to her will be that she shouldn't attempt to travel.

I realise there are lots of questions here, and I very much appreciate everyone's feedback.
posted by ajp at 12:59 AM on September 7, 2012


janww said:
weird how there are different answers. all authoritative.
Indeed :)
posted by ajp at 1:00 AM on September 7, 2012


tonylord sid:
Ex-UKBA policy official here.

Travelling with this passport will not work. She should have no problems getting out of the UK (assuming there are no exit controls on the day you travel) but she will almost certainly not be allowed into Spain. The Spanish will have the details of all cancelled UK passports and hers will be flagged as soon as it is scanned on arrival. She will then be out on the next flight back to UK.

She will then face lengthy questioning on arrival in the UK.

Change the Travel date or find the actual valid passport.

Sorry
Many thanks for this. Great to hear from someone with direct experience!! MF is great :)
posted by ajp at 1:02 AM on September 7, 2012


There remains the question of replacing the old passport. Yes, it's canceled. Yes, there's no chance of replacing a missing passport. But this one has re-materialised and she can take the physical object to the passport office. Personally I think this won't work -- the passport may be physically present, but it's registered as "lost".

Many thanks all.
posted by ajp at 1:08 AM on September 7, 2012


Just to keep this updated....

The new passport remains stubbornly lost. We have turned upside-down 3 rooms in 2 flats. 2 rooms remain, but they're not strong contenders. We've emptied bags, pockets, laundry baskets, opened tents that were used in camping trips, thumbed through piles of books... everything, but to no avail.

We have learned:

There are several IPS (Identity and Passport Services) offices throughout the UK, in London, Peterborough, Durham, Belfast, and a handful of other locations I can't remember. You can contact the IPS on 0300 222 0000.

We need to contact the office that issued the old passport, in order to verify if it has been cancelled, and if it can be used for the 24 hour "Premium" replacement service, regardless of its status. The IPS tells us that we can only contact them by fax (!?!). The IPS has emailed the issuing office, asking them to phone my friend -- but this could take up to 48 hours.

Ideally, my friend would have been able to provide the reference number she received when she got the new passport, but this was 3 years ago, so she doesn't have it.

Everyone we've spoken to within the IPS thinks that the old passport will be invalid and certainly not viable for travel, and probably not viable for the 24-hour premium replacement service. But nobody has been able to categorically confirm this. Hence my friend needs to contact the issuing office.

If you are going to any IPS office, you need an appointment. You can phone the 0300 number to find when the next appointment will be available, but you may have to wait for several days. So phone back hourly to ask for any cancellations -- you cannot just turn up and wait for cancellations, but you can book an appointment by phone, in a cancelled appointment slot. However this could be anywhere within the UK, and not necessarily in your "local" IPS office.

Having said that.... my friend has trawled Google and found stories of people who have simply turned up at their IPS office, and thrown themselves on their mercy. The results are variable, but there are apocryphal tales of people getting appointments, and even one story of a woman who managed to get a replacement passport issued there and then. I appreciate that these details are sparse -- I shall update this thread with my friend's experiences in the hope that we can provide a more detailed story.

Currently, she's driving to the London IPS office clutching a passport application form plus photos signed by a registered professional, and her old passport (the cancelled one). Her intention is to simply beg for mercy!

We are obviously not holding out much hope here, but the options are now minimal, and she's clutching at straws.

I shall post more later. Right now, I have boxes to hunt through!
posted by ajp at 4:12 AM on September 7, 2012


Ajp:

I now see that potentially your friend is willing to engage in a bit of risk, which is not a problem and I pass no judgment (I am a seasoned traveler that's seen it all).

Traveling by playing near the "foul lines" is possible, and many do it. Yes - the best shot is to have the passport looked at the but not scanned. This is possible, but you have to do certain things to better the odds in your favor (choosing a longer line over a shorter one, picking a male border agent over a female, and more important, a harmless distraction to redirect the border agent's attention and training to a non-passport related "issue.")

(Side note): have you traced your steps and checked outside on the street for the missing passport, or with your local police office for a turn in?
posted by Kruger5 at 5:21 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Kruger5: Many thanks for the tips, it seems you have some interesting experience :)
posted by ajp at 6:20 AM on September 7, 2012


Well... astonishingly.... she has been promised a new passport by the London IPS office TODAY.

She turned up and threw herself on their mercy, and apparently a very unimpressed clerk took her forms, the old passport, and some new photos, and has just completed her application. The passport will be issued within 4 hours.

Just to be clear, she wasn't dishonest about any of it. She told them the full story, and possibly acted a teensy bit dim on questioning. But honest throughout.

Amazing. And a big relief.

Thanks to everyone for their help, opinions, stories, and advice.

I hope this thread is of at least some help to people in a similar predicament in the future.
posted by ajp at 6:23 AM on September 7, 2012


Oh, some more detail, again for anyone who finds this thread in future.

If you phone the 0300 number and talk to an IPS clerk, they can view all appointments and all cancellations for every IPS office in the UK. The clerk I spoke to suggested I hang on the phone for a few minutes while he monitored the cancellations. In the space of 5 minutes, there were two cancellations. One was for tomorrow (hundreds of miles away but still a possibility) and then another materialised, far more local, but 2 working days hence.

So if you're in a similar situation, it might be worth asking to stay on the line for 10 minutes while they monitor the queue for you. Apparently cancellations get snapped up within seconds -- unsurprisingly.
posted by ajp at 6:25 AM on September 7, 2012


Glad it all worked out, but also as a message to anyone reading this thread, please please don't follow the advice in Kruger5's post.

Doing anything that might try and distract the attention of a border guard onto another matter is likely to a) look mightily suspicious (so they might give your passport more scrutiny) and b) probably lead you to spending longer at the desk as they sort out whatever proble you raised.

Reeeally bad idea.
posted by tonylord at 8:54 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


She turned up and threw herself on their mercy, and apparently a very unimpressed clerk took her forms, the old passport, and some new photos, and has just completed her application. The passport will be issued within 4 hours.

I glad to hear that they will still occasionally bend their rules and be reasonable (the official policy on replacing lost passports taking at least a week being crazy). It was my experience when dealing with IPS that all the individuals I actually spoke to were pleasant and helpful, within the bounds of their bureaucratic rules, but actually getting the appointment and getting up to the window where you were dealing with that person can be a real pain.

There's also something really insulting about the horrid IPS phone system which spends as much time telling you how little they will do for you and how if you don't get everything right first time you're screwed as it does imparting useful information.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:49 AM on September 7, 2012


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