UPDATE: Praise your choice of deity, I found it!

UPDATE AGAIN: Due to a number of people wanting to know where it was found - I sold my car a couple of months ago and had a bag of stuff I'd removed from the car before it was collected, the bag contained my passport among other things (and a pair of sunglasses - handy!) and was living at the bottom of my wardrobe

I am a UK citizen, born and lived in UK all my life. I have a valid UK passport, I believe it expires in about 2 or 3 years. But I can't find it and I go travelling in 4 days from now.

I intend to visit the following countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Italy, France. I will be travelling by ferry between England and Belgium (and the reciprocal on the return) and all other travel will be by private car.

I am happy to pay whatever the cost is for a replacement passport but I'm not sure how to get it quickly enough.

On https://www.gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently it suggests that I can get one urgently but only if mine is expired or due to expire soon and I cannot use that service if mine is simply lost.

In a panic I tried to phone the passport office on 0300 222 0000, which is the number listed on gov.uk, but it seems fully automated and only tells me to go online and do it there, which I have already failed to do.

Some Googling found this page https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/entry-exit/eu-citizen/index_en.htm which strongly suggests that I'll actually be fine without a passport, but I have contacted the support centre for the ferry company and they confirmed I will absolutely need a passport to travel with them.

The only other photographic ID I have is a full UK photocard driving license, which the above page explicitly excludes as a valid form of identification.

Will I be okay travelling through these countries between 23rd June and 10th July with no passport present? If not, how can I expedite the passport application process? It seems impossible to actually speak to anyone at the passport office.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JoErNanO
    Jun 23, 2018 at 12:55

5 Answers 5


According to EU rules you need either a passport or a national ID card to travel between EU countries.

However, the UK does not issue national ID cards- there was a whole political issue about possibly introducing them during the Blair government which led to them eventually being rejected.

As a British citizen you absolutely 100% need a passport to leave the UK (except for Ireland...though to get on a plane you still need a passport).

There certainly is a 1-day service for passports. I once used this to renew a passport that was soon to run out (only to have said passport stolen a few months later...) and it worked as advertised:


1 week Fast Track

Your new passport is delivered to your home within 1 week of your appointment. Someone might need to be in to sign for it.

You can use this service to:

  • replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport

(none of the other options apply for replacing a lost passport)

The only possible way you would probably be OK without a passport (albeit putting yourself at great risk if you are subject to a random search) is if you're already in continental Europe and travel by land.

From the UK your chances are nil unless you've access to a private boat or some other underhand means.

  • 6
    Quote from the online fast track application page "To use Online Premium you’ll need your old passport."
    – Confused
    Jun 20, 2018 at 10:03
  • 9
    Just to confirm, I have been in exactly the same situation as the OP, and the 1-day passport service does not work for lost passports. This is explicitly stated on their website, but I also called and spoke to them. I ended up cancelling my flight.
    – JBentley
    Jun 20, 2018 at 13:35
  • 3
    What about Directive 2004/38/EC Art 5(4): "Where a Union citizen...does not have the necessary travel documents..., the Member State concerned shall, before turning them back, give such persons every reasonable opportunity to obtain the necessary documents or have them brought to them within a reasonable period of time or to corroborate or prove by other means that they are covered by the right of free movement and residence" (emphasis added). Has nobody tried that?
    – phoog
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:18
  • 4
    @DrEval i think he was asking about the emphasized part, although I don't know what "other means" could be acceptable.
    – Kat
    Jun 20, 2018 at 17:00
  • 2
    just a minor nitpick - you can fly to Ireland with just Photo ID such as your DL. I had to do this once while the US Embassy had my passport and it was fine. My father used his OAP bus pass for a while when he lost his passport.
    – Ian Turton
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:52

The passport office has an option to receive a callback. I left my name and number and an adviser called me back a couple of hours later.

The adviser explained that the quickest it is possible to replace a lost or stolen passport is 7 days.

The 1 day service is only available for replacements of expired or nearly expired passports that are still in your possession.

I guess I'll need to look harder...

  • 13
    If the journey is one that you cannot cancel, then I would suggest applying for the passport immediately. The timescale they give is a "within" timescale and there is a small chance you could receive it in time to catch your ferry. When I was in this situation I had a cancellable flight and didn't want to take the chance of seeing what would happen (because the cost of cancelling was higher if I waited). But it's worth trying if you have nothing to lose, especially as you will need a new passport anyway. EDIT: The 1 week service costs more than the 3 week, so you do risk something.
    – JBentley
    Jun 20, 2018 at 13:38
  • 8
    The passport has been found. What a massive relief
    – Confused
    Jun 21, 2018 at 9:10
  • Was it a good hiding place? Jun 21, 2018 at 10:20
  • 1
    @JBentley when you formally start the lost passport process does it automatically invalidate the lost passport? if so then it may not be such a good idea to start it until you are extremely sure the passport cannot be found. Jun 22, 2018 at 4:14
  • @PeterGreen that was exactly my concern, I suspect it would indeed invalidate it, but cannot confirm that with any certainty as luckily I didn't get that far
    – Confused
    Jun 22, 2018 at 8:21

Find your passport!

Looking for a passport is quite a stressful time, which implies doing mistakes, forgetting where you put it, when the answer can be easy.

Think out of the box! For the anecdote, I once “lost” my passport before going on a cycle trip. Therefore we could not use the ferry to reach our destination in Greece. When I got home after the trip, I unpacked and found my passport in... a small pocket in my bag! Check your old bags and pockets!

When did you have it for the last time? Where? What is your favorite safe place? Maybe you’ve hidden too well, but in a place you know well. Be smart and methodical in your research, it’s probably not in the kitchen.

Good luck!

Edit: just saw you found it! Glad


There are only two permanent border checkpoints on your route: the departure and destination ports of the ferry. From my experience traveling to the UK, all traffic is checked on the France->UK routes. Outbound traffic from the UK is scrutinized less thoroughly, but the chance of having to show your passport is still too high to risk traveling without one.

  • 2
    It clearly states on the ferry company (P&O) website that a passport is required for admission
    – Confused
    Jun 20, 2018 at 13:32
  • True. In practice though they rarely ask for it, because you don't get to their offices until you've passed customs.
    – Hobbes
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:09
  • @Hobbes this is a ferry to Belgium. There's no passport control on the UK side, is there?
    – phoog
    Jun 20, 2018 at 15:38
  • 1
    @Hobbes I have travelled through Eurotunnel many times and being asked for a passport on the outgoing leg seems hit and miss. The return journey is a very different story
    – Confused
    Jun 20, 2018 at 15:50
  • 1
    @phoog The UK began doing passport checks on exit in 2015. bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32205970
    – Mike Scott
    Jun 20, 2018 at 19:44

You might consider having a go with Directive 2004/38/EC Article 5(4):

Article 5

Right of entry

  1. Without prejudice to the provisions on travel documents applicable to national border controls, Member States shall grant Union citizens leave to enter their territory with a valid identity card or passport and shall grant family members who are not nationals of a Member State leave to enter their territory with a valid passport.


  1. Where a Union citizen, or a family member who is not a national of a Member State, does not have the necessary travel documents or, if required, the necessary visas, the Member State concerned shall, before turning them back, give such persons every reasonable opportunity to obtain the necessary documents or have them brought to them within a reasonable period of time or to corroborate or prove by other means that they are covered by the right of free movement and residence.

(emphasis added)

I wouldn't think it likely to succeed, but you might just get away with it if you have enough proof "by other means." If you're willing to risk being turned back at the ferry and you're unable to find your passport, it might be worth a shot. Please come back and let us know what happens if you try it.

(Based on Hobbes's comment on his answer, it seems that it is more likely for this to work on a ferry to France with juxtaposed immigration controls, so you might consider changing your itinerary.)

  • "If you're willing to risk being turned back at the ferry" you wrote, but the line above is not about being turned back at the ferry, but having already reached another country.
    – bye
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:50
  • @DrEval which line is about having already reached the other country? The line I quoted? If so, that is not correct; article 5 concerns the "right of entry."
    – phoog
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:55
  • "Where a Union citizen, or a family member who is not a national of a Member State.... the Member State concerned shall, before turning them back"
    – bye
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:56
  • @DrEval see my edit. That line explicitly concerns the right of entry and nothing else.
    – phoog
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:58
  • 1
    Yes, I was only addressing the line you quoted in your answer. The new text in the edit explains what can happen at the destination. There's nothing there about leaving your country first, which is where the problem is.
    – bye
    Jun 20, 2018 at 15:00

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