August 30, 2008 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Passport emergency!! (In the UK)

I am due to travel on Wednesday morning from Manchester. Unfortunately I cannot locate my passport. I've looked everywhere.

I checked the website for the US Embassy in London (I'm a US citizen with indefinite leave to remain) which says they can issue emergency passports. Unfortunately they are closed Monday for Labor Day and their online appointment booking system says they are full for Tuesday.

Does anyone here know if the Consulate in Edinburgh can issue same day emergency passports? Their website says that they do issue emergency passports if you are due to travel within 10 days or something but nothing about same day. They also operate on a walk in basis, so I would be able to travel there on Tuesday if I can get a same day PP and still make my flight Wednesday.

Also, when I called the US Embassy in London, the recorded message says that if you have lost a passport and are due to travel very soon, that you should just come to the Embassy on the next business day. Can I do this even though the online booking system says Tuesday is full? I need to find out this info before Tuesday as it takes me about 4 hours to get to London, so I'd have to leave very early morning.

I think the worst case scenario would be that I travel to London on Wednesday (which I was able to book a 2:30 appointment for) and apply for a passport and hope they can issue it the same day. I would then have to change my flight to Thursday or Friday. I am trying to avoid this at all costs.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
posted by triggerfinger to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
Best answer: The Edinburgh consulate's website says: "if you have an urgent matter, contact the Consulate directly at [44] (0)131 556-8315."

Their "passports" page also says that "Emergency passports can be applied for at U.S. Consulate Edinburgh. Contact the U.S. Consulate by phone or email to discuss processing in Edinburgh." Here's their page on lost/stolen passports.

So, I'd call them ASAP - even if it's after business hours, I would hope they'd have someone who could answer the phone and even if they're closed on the weekend, can probably tell you what you need to know so on Monday, you can show up at the office and get the process going.

I'd also bring any proof of citizenship and proof of identity you have, and a witness who can attest/swear to your identity.

Good luck!
posted by mdonley at 11:17 AM on August 30, 2008

Best answer: You can also contact CIBT for advice, they can turn around passports in 24 hours for a ridiculous fee, we used them stateside when we discovered that my parents made all of my wifes travel arrangements in her married name when she had not yet changed it.
posted by iamabot at 11:20 AM on August 30, 2008

Best answer: You can believe the recorded message. I had my passport replaced same day in London two years ago, without a previous appointment. I don't think you need an appointment to get an replacement, the appointments are for non-urgent matters. Show up at the embassy as early as you can after it opens on Tuesday morning, and expect the process to take a couple hours.

Bring any ID you have, as well as your travel information that proves it's an urgent request (although you probably won't be asked for this).
posted by blue mustard at 2:51 PM on August 30, 2008

Two other notes:

1. I have this vague recollection that the emergency passports were only issued in the morning.... I have a feeling I had to get there by 11 or 12 or something like that. However, it's been a couple years, and my memory may be faulty.

2. I had my US drivers license when I replaced my passport, which apparently was sufficient, along with the info I gave them, for a replacement passport. I did not need a witness to attest to my identity, as mdonley suggests. Having said that, it's not a bad idea to bring someone along, just in case, as well as for the company.
posted by blue mustard at 2:58 PM on August 30, 2008

Best answer: I've had decent luck as an American citizen just showing up at the US Embassy in London without an appointment. There's always a ridiculously long line for foreigners trying to get American visas, but Americans needing consular services can join a shorter line and pretty much walk right in.

In May I showed up to get more passport pages and get a document notarized--they were reluctant to notarize the document because I didn't have an appointment (but did eventually take care of it), and when I tried to get more pages they told me my passport was damaged (it was old and the edge by the photo pasted inside was fraying)--they wouldn't give me more pages but would give me a 1 year emergency/temporary passport.

It took less than an hour and I didn't have to leave the building--I got passport photos in a booth inside. I got to keep my damaged passport because it still had a valid visa in it; you might have more trouble because of your ILR. Also, the embassy didn't seem that busy the day I was there--so YMMV.

Two other things: I had to pay an expedition fee to get the emergency passport that day, but when I got a new 10 year passport in the US in June that fee was credited to it, which was a nice surprise.

And don't bring your laptop to the Embassy--they'll let you bring bags inside but nothing electronic--you can store your phone / camera / iPod in a small locker at security but it won't fit a laptop.
posted by reflexed at 2:59 PM on August 30, 2008

Ok, last post, I promise, which might save you a little bit of time. US Passport photos are a different size than many of the "ID/passport Photos" produced by European photo booths, so don't bother getting photos unless you're sure you're getting the right kind. The embassy has a machine that produces US-sized passport photos. When you get there, have your photo's taken first before you get in line. I didn't, and it added an extra 30-minutes of re-queuing.
posted by blue mustard at 3:05 PM on August 30, 2008

Response by poster: Okay, here's what I have so far.

I called the emergency line at the Edinburgh consulate. I spoke to someone who said I could call a number on Monday which was the lost passport emergency number. I said that I wasn't sure it would be open Monday as it was a bank holiday? He seemed puzzled and said it would be open and that I could call and speak to them about same day processing. When I asked, he said that they have done same day processing before. I'm not entirely confident of his answer, but I'll definitely call Monday to check. Edinburgh would be ideal as it doesn't require appointments and it's closer.

blue mustard, thank you for all the info. When I went on the London website and clicked on the emergency passport link, I was then led to the screen where I can make an appointment, which is why I thought that these were the emergency appointments only. But if you think that they will help me if I just show up on Tuesday, that's very encouraging as the only thing that is keeping me from going Tuesday is the fact that I couldn't schedule an appt. I can catch a train to Euston to be in London at 8:30. I don't think it's a very far taxi ride to the Embassy, so I could be there pretty early.

I have the following documentation:
- US birth certificate
- valid US drivers license
- UK provisional license
- social security card
- photocopies of my passport, including my ILR page (I can get them from my file at work)
- email confirmations of my travel plans (my e-ticket?)

I also have photos that I got taken for my provisional license and I think they meet the US requirements, but I'll double check.

I checked the CIBT website and when I went into the lost/stolen passport section, it looks as though they'll only do UK passports but I think I'll give them a call tomorrow just to double check.

I also still have to call my local police department to have them check the lost and found. The people who staff this area won't be in until Monday and it's a long shot but I'm hoping that if I actually dropped it somewhere, someone may have handed it in.

Also, I called the US passport people in the US and the woman I spoke to said that if my passport is turned into a consulate or passport agency, proper procedure says that it needs to be returned to the US where it will be destroyed. She could not tell me if this had happened to my passport and said there is no way of knowing. She said they won't send any sort of notification to the owner of the destroyed passport to let them know. This seems strange to me but you learn something new every day I guess.

Anyway, I will keep everyone updated and if anyone has more information, please let me know. Thank you so far for your help, I am beginning to have some hope that I may be able to make my flight.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:00 PM on August 30, 2008

Best answer: Some anecdotal information: I was waiting in the citizen line at the US embassy in London (having made an appointment to do a regular passport renewal) and witnessed a frantic American woman show up, say needed to travel later that day but lost her passport, and then being let in after minimal fuss; once inside, they even let her cut in front of me in line.

From what I observed you won't end up just standing in a long line outside only to get to a person in a window telling you to f*** off. There are these (somewhat) helpful "line wrangler" embassy employees who wander around the lines checking on people's appointments, what they're there for, etc. They'll help to sort you out. Definitely bring as much identification as you can -- what you list above should be more than sufficient. And do follow blue mustard's advice and either figure out a way to bring along US-sized passport photos (many Snappy Snaps do them) or upon arrival, make a beeline for the photo booth at the embassy. And definitely do get there as early as possible: the lines can get real lengthy later in the day.

Good luck!
posted by lazywhinerkid at 5:23 PM on August 30, 2008

Last time I read a question here about someone asking about passport replacements, they added a bonus question, regarding where they might have left their passport. I know you said you've looked everywhere, but reading that thread might help nonetheless in coming up with strange places where the passport might be.
posted by Ms. Next at 2:31 AM on August 31, 2008

Note that it's not a bank holiday in England today (not sure about Scotland) so you're dependent on whether the various embassies/consulates respect US public holidays or not. Other than that I can't help but good luck!

I posted the old thread about where I might have put my passport - it turned up, and I hope yours does too.
posted by altolinguistic at 4:19 AM on September 1, 2008

Response by poster: I got a new passport!

For some reason, I was thinking that Edinburgh is closer to me than London, which apparently it is not. So I decided to go to London instead. I got up very early this morning to catch the first train and didn't actually get to the Embassy until 10. There was basically no queue, which surprised me as it's the first day back after a US bank holiday weekend. So I just handed in the forms I had filled in and gave the guy my US drivers license, which was all he wanted to see from all the documentation I had brought along. They asked me a few questions, I had to wait and then then gave me my new passport. It was about one hour from start to finish.

So now I get to travel on my original flight! Thank you so much to everyone for your advice, I don't know what I would have done without it!
posted by triggerfinger at 10:06 AM on September 2, 2008

Response by poster: Oh and Ms. Next and altolinguistic, I had a look through that thread but unfortunately my passport was in none of the places mentioned. Ultimately though, it's not such a huge deal as my passport was due to be renewed in 2009 anyway, so I've just gotten it done a bit early.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:10 AM on September 2, 2008

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