Brits warned over passport misuse
05 August 2013 08:42
Misuses of passports, with some being used as beermats and others being put through the wash, has led to a big increase in Britons forced to fork out for emergency travel documents
They're essential for international travellers getting from one destination to another.
But the only place a rising number of damaged or lost passports are getting Britons into is trouble.
Holidaymakers are being increasingly hit by their misuse of this official Government document.
Some are being used as beermats and others being put through the wash.
This has resulted in a huge rise in Britons being forced to pay for last-minute emergency travel documents (ETDs), according to the Foreign Office (FO).
At £95 a time, this is costing Britons £5 million a year, according to official FO figures.
The number of ETDs, issued when passports are lost, stolen or damaged while overseas jumped by more than 300% to 28,783 in 2012/13.
The FO said instances included passports being ruined after being secreted in the freezer and being used as notebooks.
It added that over one in five (6,005) of the ETDs in 2012/13 were issued in Spain; 3,180 in the USA and 1,618 in Australia, where several Britons have found their passport was no longer valid.
Barcelona was the top city for ETDs with 1,291 issued in 2012, largely because of bags being stolen, distraction thefts or pickpocketing.
But passport problems aren't the only issue people encounter on their holidays, making
travel insurance a key consideration before travelling overseas.
The FO's Southern Europe consular director Will Middleton said its workers deal with people every day who need ETDs for a raft of reasons.
Mr Middleton added: "Some are victims of crime, but we also hear of passports being damaged carelessly, like becoming damaged after being hidden in the freezer."
These are situations, he said, that could have been avoided and end up costing holidaymakers valuable time and money.
Mr Middleton continued: "We strongly advise people to look after their passport, keep it safe and check its validity well in advance of travel."