Britons advised to be #PassportAware on their holidays
Foreign and Commonwealth Office launches campaign to help British nationals keep their passports safe overseas.
With over 21,000 British passports lost or stolen last year, including 72 in Bulgaria, 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 and most 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). 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.
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 muggings, such as a case of a tour operator who was attacked in Sunny Beach and all his personal belongings were stolen including his passport. 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 two 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
If you would like further information please contact 0207 781 2342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 consular staff in Bulgaria.
You can keep up-to-date with the latest FCO travel advice by signing up to the FCO’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. In Bulgaria follow @UKinBulgaria or @HMCinBulgaria for useful advice and tips for visitors and residents.
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|