Press release

Britons advised to be #PassportAware on their holidays

Foreign and Commonwealth Office launches campaign to help British nationals keep their passports safe overseas.

Passport Hustle

With over 21,000 British passports lost or stolen last year, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is urging British nationals abroad to be #PassportAware and keep their passport safe from thieves with the return of their Passport Hustle campaign.

With summer now in full swing, many Britons are jetting off on their holidays. According to TripAdvisor, Europe is the hot destination. Majorca is number one for Britons, followed by Tenerife and Ibiza respectively, while Crete and Lanzarote come in fourth and fifth place. 1

Most holidaymakers enjoy trouble-free trips. However valuable holiday time and money can be lost if a passport is lost or stolen as the victim may need to report the theft to the police, as well as spend time at the local Consulate or Embassy so that they can be issued with an emergency travel document (ETD). The cost of ETDs and new passports for 2 adults could pay for 2 additional nights in a mid-range hotel and 2 meals a day in Tenerife. 2

Consulates around the world issued over 30,000 ETDs last year, and assisted distressed British nationals who had been victims of crime.

To raise awareness of passport hustling techniques and to educate the public on how to avoid this crime, the FCO has produced a second series of short films with fraud and stealth crime expert James Freedman. These videos show a further four techniques that thieves use to steal passports as well as tips to avoid being a victim.

Passport Hustle

Tobias Ellwood MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, said:

While we should all enjoy our holidays, it is important that we remain vigilant about valuables – particularly passports. Becoming a victim of theft or losing your passport could ruin your trip and replacing a passport will cost money and valuable holiday time.

By following the simple tips included in these videos you can minimise the risk of falling victim to thieves while abroad.

James Freedman, stealth crime expert, said:

With identity theft on the rise, the actual cost of losing your passport could be thousands of pounds. Criminals and con-men are always evolving the tricks they use to target tourists, but a few simple precautions will really help you to stay safe.

Only carry what you really need and keep cash and other valuables in a secure pocket or bag. Remember that if you put bags down, they should always be in your line of sight. If you don’t need your passport and other valuables when you’re out and about, leave them at the hotel. Above all, trust your instincts and be aware of anyone invading your personal space.

There are many other ways in which thieves can target your passports and valuables, and in addition to pickpockets, many Consulates worldwide have seen a rise in cases of items being taken from hire cars, such as the family of 4 who had their passports stolen from their hire car while they were touring the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Thieves anticipate items of value such as passports being left in hire cars, so don’t take any chances. Leave your passport in your hotel safe, or keep it with you and don’t give away its location.

The FCO’s top tips for keeping your passport safe:

  • be aware of your surroundings and be wary of strangers who take an unusual amount of interest in you
  • a damaged passport cannot be used for travel, so value it and keep it safe
  • lock your passport in a safe if you have access to one, or if you are required to keep it with you, ensure its location is not visible
  • make 2 photocopies of your passport – leave one with friends or family and take the second with you, or store an electronic copy securely. Where permitted, use your photocopy as alternative ID, for example when going out at night
  • for certain countries your passport must be valid for 6 months after the date you travel – check the entry requirements before you go
  • ensure you fill in the emergency details / next of kin page before you go

The videos can be viewed on the FCO Travel Facebook, Twitter and YouTube feeds.

Further information

If you would like further information please contact 0207 781 2342 or

About FCO ‘Travel Aware’ campaign

Passport Hustle is part of the FCO’s ‘Travel Aware’ travel safety campaign, which aims to advise all British nationals travelling abroad, encourage responsible travel and reduce preventable consular cases. The campaign works with more than 400 travel industry partners to communicate its messages.

If you have any enquiries for FCO consular staff before you go or while abroad you can use the FCO’s Twitter service. Questions are answered 9am-6pm GMT, Monday to Friday and FCO staff aim to respond within 30 minutes. This service adds to the ways that British people travelling or living overseas can already get in touch with the FCO: by emailing our travel advice team or contacting local consular staff.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest FCO travel advice by signing up to the FCO’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Information about how the FCO can help British nationals abroad

The FCO can The FCO cannot
Issue you with an emergency travel document Help you enter a country if you do not have a valid passport or necessary visas
Provide information about transferring money Give you legal advice or translate documents
Provide help if you have suffered rape or serious sexual or physical assault, are a victim of crime, are ill or in hospital Investigate crimes or get you out of prison
Give you a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors Get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people, but we will raise concerns if treatment falls below internationally recognised standards
Contact you if you are detained abroad Pay any bills or give you money
Contact friends and family back home for you if you wish Make travel arrangements for you
Provide help in cases of forced marriage  
Assist people affected by parental child abduction  

Note on sources

1 Top destinations for UK travellers during the upcoming summer travel period (June 1, 2016 – August 31, 2016) according to TripAdvisor site search and booking interest data. All hotel and airfare prices are based on trips departing and returning between June 1 and August 31, 2016.

2 Average costs to visit the top summer travel destinations are representative of a 1-week trip including a 7-night hotel stay and 3 restaurant meals per day.

Avg. nightly hotel rate includes the average cost of a 7-night stay in a hotel bookable on TripAdvisor, aggregated from hundreds of booking partners, including online travel agencies and direct hotel suppliers.

Avg. Meal Price includes the average meal cost per person, excluding drinks, tax and tip. Prices are sourced from restaurants listed on TripAdvisor.

(Figures provided by TripAdvisor)

  Destination Avg. Nightly Hotel Rate Avg. Meal Cost Avg. Cost of a One-Week Summer Trip Least Expensive Week This Summer Cost of Least Expensive Week
1 Majorca, Spain £111 £17 £1,239 30 May £1,106
2 Tenerife, Spain £73 £13 £837 30 May £784
3 Ibiza, Spain £149 £21 £1,575 30 May £1,256
4 Crete, Greece £64 £12 £749 30 May £654
5 Lanzarote, Spain £72 £13 £886 30 May £785
6 New York City, United States £219 £23 £1,937 27 June £1,779
7 Benidorm, Spain £85 £14 £949 30 May £819
8 Albufeira, Portugal £103 £15 £1,136 30 May £904
9 Corfu, Greece £62 £14 £777 30 May £665
10 Gran Canaria, Spain £62 £13 £747 6 June £696

Cost of 2 Emergency Travel Documents (£200) + cost of 2 replacement adult passports (£145) = £345. 2 nights for 2 adults in average priced hotel in Tenerife (£292), plus 4 average priced meals (£52) = £344.

Published 11 August 2016