What Happens When You Accidentally Travel With Your Lost Passport

26 Mar 2019

This is definitely not a post I thought I'd be writing. I thought I was gonna go to Amsterdam, take a load of pictures, come back and write loads of posts about food and review all the things we did. Sadly, those types of posts aren't gonna happen because guess who forgot to take photos. Yep, little old me. Instead, I have this story that was too unbelievable to not share - the story of how I travelled to Amsterdam on my lost passport.

Now, I'm not going to tell you all that you should try this, because you honestly shouldn't, it was a nightmare. This is more of me being in total disbelief at myself and the fact that when I tried to Google this topic, there was absolutely no information. There's plenty out there for accidentally travelling with a passport that's out of date, but a lost passport? Zilch! And do you know why? Because it's near impossible to do, but hey, I did it, so I'm here to tell you what happened and what to do if you manage the impossible too.

The beginning

This story starts in the summer of 2015. We were about to fly to America when I suddenly realised that I couldn't find my passport anywhere and would have to get a new one. I started the process by reporting my passport as lost or stolen, so if it was ever found, it was to be destroyed, and I got on to getting a new passport. Said new passport came, we travelled to America and I travelled with over the next 4 years. Then our recent Amsterdam trip came along.

You can ask me til the cows come home how I managed to do this, but I literally haven't got a clue. All I remember was picking up my passport to take to Alex's so we could book flights and it stayed at Alex's until we had to leave for our trip. The passport number was fine, there was nothing weird or unusual picked up, and we also checked in for our flights via the EasyJet app without a problem. We got on the flights and made it to Amsterdam, where I was pulled to the side at passport control and told 'your passport has been reported lost or stolen.'

My passport was property of the UK

As you can imagine, I was not prepared for this news, completely forgetting that 4 years ago, I had reported a passport lost or stolen. I was so confused, telling the immigration officer that my passport was in date and how could it possibly have been reported lost or stolen. He checked the system and told me that was in fact me who had reported it lost. I couldn't believe it! I was having a big old cry and everyone was staring, but I couldn't wrap my head around how this could be happening to me. Once I started to cry though, the immigration officer softened and told me that because my passport was lost in the UK, it was property of the UK and they were unable to take it from me. He also said I should just continue with my holiday, fly back on our due date, the UK passport control would destroy my passport for me and everything would be fine.

Of course, it wasn't until we were at the hotel and I checked the dates on my passport and wracked my brain for any sort of clue as to why the passport would be lost, and then it clicked. The bloomin' America trip in 2015. How on earth had I managed to accidentally find my lost passport and bring it with me?

I thought I was going to go to prison

I followed the immigration officer's advice. I put any worries out of my head and just got on with enjoying my break away. That was until I got a message from my mum, saying that there had been shootings in Utrecht, a town that was only 20 miles away from us, and that airports were on high alert. Of course, this sent me into a melt down. I thought I was going to go to prison, be strip searched or kept in Amsterdam until they found the person who did the shootings. I was absolutely terrified!

I had no clue what to do. I had my mum on one side having a huge stress and telling me to go to the embassy or get an emergency travel document, but then Alex was telling me to be calm and that the immigration officer said everything would be fine. Cue more crying from me. I tried to research into what to do if you were travelling on a lost passport and found nothing (hence why I felt the need to write this blog post), which just made matters worse.

However, after a lot of pep talks from Alex, I decided to brave it and carry on like the immigration adviser had said. Besides, there wasn't enough time to organise a trip to the embassy by this point or get an emergency document, so I didn't really have much choice.

A total miracle

When it was time for us to fly home, I was unexpectedly pulled up about my passport again at Schiphol. Who knew that passport control could be on both ends of the same flight? This time was much calmer. I explained the problem and that I really did have a new passport, but I had made a stupid mistake. Again, I was told that the UK passport control would just take it off me and destroy it, and we were allowed through into Departures. That was a huge relief because I was so scared that I was going to look like I was lying.

The real scary bit was coming back into Manchester. I knew I wanted to be in the manual passport checking line as opposed to the self-service passport checking because I wanted to be straight up and honest with the person checking my details. I felt that if I went on self-service, I'd look like I was trying to get through. Unfortunately, EU members were directed towards the self-service and I started getting in a huge fluster as we joined the queue. I could feel the tears brimming up in my eyes and I was determined not to cry again!

By some total miracle, the line was cut right in front of me and we were told to go to the manual passport desks. Someone was seriously looking down on me that day, I swear. I went straight to the desk, garbled at the poor man checking my passport about what had happened and he was a bit like, '...oooookay?...' then took my passport away to be destroyed. There was no telling off, no prison, no anything! I was glad that I'd trusted my gut and not forked out for an emergency travel document because who wants that kind of hassle on holiday?

What to do if you've travelled on a lost passport

  • Don't panic - stupid things happen, and yes, this is a seriously stupid thing, but it can be sorted
  • When you get pulled up about it at immigration, listen to their advice - these people are there to help you and while they can be a bit intimidating, they want everything to work out
  • Speak to the British embassy - no matter what country you travel to, there will be a British embassy there who can help you. You can ring or visit in person to make an appointment
  • Purchase an emergency passport - an emergency travel document can be ready for you within 48 hours, so the sooner you request one, the better. These can be upwards of £100, so if you're not willing to fork out for this, then try your other options
  • Be honest and up front - if you know that you've accidentally travelled with a lost passport, be honest about it. Pretending you didn't know will only make matters worse
  • Try to enjoy your holiday - it can be extremely scary, knowing that you've kind of committed a crime and not knowing what's going to come of it, but honestly, if I can get through it, so can you!
  • If you lost your passport in the UK, it is illegal for an airline in another country to dispose of it - this is a fact, so if your passport is taken from you to be destroyed, you can contest this. It is rightfully property of the UK and can only be destroyed there

We still joke now about the time that I was almost taken away in handcuffs and it's nice to be able to find the humour in the situation now after it caused me so much stress. So the moral of this story is to always double check that you've got the right passport! And if it does turn out that you've somehow managed to find your lost passport without even looking, follow my tips above and I promise, everything will work out just fine.

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