Can I replace a lost UK passport at short notice?
March 1, 2008 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Lost my UK passport, travelling on Wednesday - am I screwed?

I can't find my passport, and I'm supposed to be going on honeymoon on Wednesday, to France (flying Ryanair). I live in the UK. I phoned the Passport Helpline to try and make an emergency appointment but they say I can only get a same-day passport if I'm renewing an existing passport, not to replace a lost one. They say it'll take 7 days to provide an 'emergency' replacement.

With no national ID card (though I do have a photo driving licence), is there any way I can leave the country without a passport? And get back in again once I've gone?

Bonus question - where might I have put my passport? I usually have a safe place where I always put it, but for some reason failed to do so last time I used it.
posted by altolinguistic to Travel & Transportation around United Kingdom (21 answers total)
Best answer: I'm not from the UK, so I don't know the specifics, but I can hardly imagine that you can get out of the country with just a driving license.

Have you checked all coats, bags and such that you might have been wearing when you were traveling last time? I've found things like these in winter coats in summer, or vice versa.
posted by Ms. Next at 8:08 AM on March 1, 2008

Best answer: that's a nightmare, sorry to hear that and hope the passport turns up. Could you pop down to your local passport office with all documents (birth certificate, verified photos and all) and try speak to someone in person, maybe being your honeymoon someone could help you out?

If you are travelling to somewhere in Europe you could try and make a case with Ryanair to let you board with your driving licence and in the meantime get that emergency passport sorted and couriered over to you for the return trip?

Congratulations on getting married also!
posted by twistedonion at 8:14 AM on March 1, 2008

Best answer: My wife has managed to blag an emergency passport appointment on the basis of a family emergency before (twice actually, passports for a new child in both cases). They do always check up though, so I'd be very cautious about claiming deaths or illnesses that can be verified through doctor checks. A bit of creativity of excuse and you might get away with it.
posted by bifter at 8:15 AM on March 1, 2008

Best answer: I don't think you will be allowed out of the British Isles without a passport. Sorry. And in particular I believe Ryanair is very strict about their documentation requirements, even more so than required.

Last time I couldn't find my passport it turned up in an enormous pile of receipts I needed to process from the last trip. Try looking anywhere that stuff from your last trip would be such as your suitcases.
posted by grouse at 8:27 AM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all, and I hope this info will be useful to others in such predicaments, but thankfully no longer needed in my case because the ***damn thing has turned up***. In a laptop bag that I used as a handbag the last time I needed ID.

Still, it's an excuse to drink sparkling wine at 4.30 on a Saturday... :)
posted by altolinguistic at 8:30 AM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Fantastic!! Congrats again.
posted by twistedonion at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2008

Best answer: I've found some weird things stuffed into books that I took with me when I traveled, to add on to grouse's good suggestion. Failing as many obvious options, this is the point at which I'd take advantage of the weekend to systematically go from one end of your living space to the other, looking absolutely everywhere a passport could fit, no matter how odd. Chances are it's in there, chances are this is your best chance of traveling on Wednesday. Please follow up in this thread, I feel terrible for you!
posted by nanojath at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2008

Curs'd live preview! Congratulations - have a great honeymoon!
posted by nanojath at 8:36 AM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: done, nanojath :)

Thanks all. I really hope this information is helpful to others in the future, as I wouldn't like to think you'd been wasting your time on me. And yes, the house is now tidier and I know where more things are.
posted by altolinguistic at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2008

Actually i think that *technically* you can leave the UK without a passport, although the passport authorities don't like it. At least, once upon a time that was the case. However, you will have a BIG hassle coming back. And the actual air carrier, eg Ryanair, won't take you without a passport, so you have to find a less controlled way out, eg hitch a lift by car. Have a good honeymoon.
posted by londongeezer at 9:09 AM on March 1, 2008

I once found mine being used as a bookmark in the book I was reading on the plane.
posted by Leon at 9:20 AM on March 1, 2008

Flying almost everywhere external to your country (even in the EU) almost always requires a a last resort, you probably could have taken the eurostar to france with simple ID, though it wouldn't have been as cheap as ryanair.

Glad you found it...I know what a panic that can be. I'm a canadian and I was turned away at the flight desk on a business trip to Ireland via the UK because my passport had gotten some water damage. It's not a good feeling. (they eventually flew me via Switzerland instead)
posted by hylaride at 9:40 AM on March 1, 2008

as a last resort, you probably could have taken the eurostar to france with simple ID

Nope. A British national would need a passport to travel on Eurostar.
posted by grouse at 10:04 AM on March 1, 2008

You can get a passport in one day if you visit the Passport Office. I had to do this recently and the service was excellent -- if pricey. You call and make an appointment, then on the day you need to take your passport photo (they have booths at the office) and a few forms of ID (driving licence, utility bill, not your mobile phone bill). They will give you your passport same-day. It costs around £115.

All the details you need are here:
posted by Lleyam at 10:57 AM on March 1, 2008

Flying almost everywhere external to your country (even in the EU) almost always requires a a last resort, you probably could have taken the eurostar to france with simple ID, though it wouldn't have been as cheap as ryanair.

That's only true for brits, as they're the only(?) EU state without national ID cards. I flew to Cyprus a few years ago with just my national ID and haven't actually taken my passport with me to visit the EU in years.
posted by jedrek at 11:48 AM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks Lleyam but as I said in the question I tried the IPS site and rang their number - the one-day service is apparently only available for a renewal or new passport, not to replace a lost one. If you know otherwise, for definite (did *you* replace a lost passport?) then please say so here - it'd be good to know that the man on the phone was wrong.
posted by altolinguistic at 12:04 PM on March 1, 2008

altolinguistic, I checked their web site earlier and it, at least, concurs with what the man on the phone said, unfortunately.
posted by grouse at 3:14 PM on March 1, 2008

For the record, the UK and Ireland have a long standing agreement allowing people to fly/boat between the two using only picture ID (not necessarily a passport). Ryanair's been in trouble before for not honouring this, however.
posted by tiny crocodile at 6:17 PM on March 1, 2008

The problem is most certainly not with the UK's lack of a national identity card but lies instead in the UK not being a full member of the Schengen zone (nor is the Republic of Ireland).

No ID is needed to travel between two Schengen zone countries, ID is however needed to gain entry to the Schengen zone.
posted by knapah at 6:19 PM on March 1, 2008

Oh, I'm sorry, altolinguistic. My mistake. Seems crazy that they wouldn't offer that service for lost passports if the'll do it for renewals. My bad. I can only wish you good luck...
posted by Lleyam at 7:18 PM on March 1, 2008

Response by poster: knapah, if I had lost my passport and we had a national ID scheme here, I would be able to travel with that national ID. So in this case the issue is relevant.

Thanks again, everyone.
posted by altolinguistic at 7:38 AM on March 2, 2008

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