I'm a UK citizen residing in the US. I haven't travelled overseas in nearly 2 years and wish to travel to the UK for 10 days in August.

Unfortunately, I discovered that my passport has expired. I can apply for a renewal, but the prevailing wisdom is that this will take at least 6 weeks and will generally take more.

I have to travel in August as my wife works in academia, so we have limited travelling options.

It looks like an Emergency Travel Document may be an option, but there's very little information about what constitutes an 'emergency'. In addition, I would need a specific itinerary and wouldn't be able to find out if I could get an ETD until 5 days before travelling, which means I'd have to risk making bookings that I wouldn't be able to then take up, if the ETD application got refused.

Does anyone have any insight into the criteria that consulates use for determining ETD eligibility?

Alternatively, are there any options for expediting a UK passport renewal while in the US?

  • 3
    What's the reason for travelling? I'm pretty sure that "I want to visit the UK and I forgot to renew my passport" isn't going to count as an emergency. Jun 22, 2015 at 20:42
  • You don't need an in-date passport to return to the UK
    – Calchas
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:23
  • I do need one to return to the US, though.
    – Dancrumb
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:24
  • @DJClayworth: Yeah, that's my concern; it's to see family and introduce my son to them. I know it's not really an emergency reason, but since I haven't used my passport in over 2 years, its expiry date wasn't at the forefront of my mind.
    – Dancrumb
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:26
  • 1
    For inquiring minds, here's what happened. I travelled to the UK on my expired passport and I travelled to the US on my Green Card. When checking in (in both directions) I had to deal with airline agents who didn't know the law (which is understandable). They called in their migration experts who did confirm that I had the legally required documentation. I did have to deal with a UK border agent who was a little snotty with me, but he went off to talk to a supervisor and, I guess, was told that I was within my rights. So, it was a bit of a hassle, but worked out fine in the end.
    – Dancrumb
    Nov 25, 2015 at 3:48

2 Answers 2


You do not need to renew your passport or obtain an emergency travel document to travel from the US to the UK as a British Citizen.

You will be admitted to the United Kingdom with your expired passport.

Information as of  22JUN15 / 2124 UTC
National United Kingdom (GB)    /Residence USA (US)
Embarkation USA (US)
Destination United Kingdom (GB)
United Kingdom (GB)

Passport required.
- Expired British passport (no time limit) endorsed  British
Citizen  is accepted.


Your difficulty is returning to the USA. However, it will be a lot quicker and cheaper to take advantage of the renewal process while in the United Kingdom. See https://www.gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently

You can see what appointment slots are available in advance and book a convenient slot before you leave the USA (potentially before you book your travel). You can use the premium one day service to obtain your replacement passport on the same day as your interview. (That assumes your replacement gets authorised quickly; and although there is no reason to expect a simple renewal to take long, you may wish to have a few days of padding. Personally I would want to start this process on the first day of arrival.)

Alternatively---if the renewal is taking too long---you may apply for an Emergency Travel Document while in the UK to travel to the US. If you are a permanent US resident, it should be accepted for entry, although you may wish to confirm this with the US Department of Homeland Security.

Scroll down to "passport exemptions":

Information as of  22JUN15 / 2127 UTC
National United Kingdom (GB)    /Residence USA (US)
Embarkation United Kingdom (GB) /Destination USA (US)

Passport required.
- Passports and/or passport replacing documents issued to
residents of the USA must be valid on arrival.
- British passports endorsed  British Citizen  must be valid
for the period of intended stay.
- British passports endorsed  British Overseas Territories
Citizen  issued by Bermuda must be valid for the period of
intended stay.
Passport Exemptions:
- Residents of the USA when holding:
- Permanent Resident/Resident Alien Card (Form I-551);
- US "Permit to Re-Enter" (Form I-327);
- Holders of a Form I-512 ( Authorization for Parole of an
Alien into the United States").
- Holders of temporary or emergency passports.
- Holders of a Transportation Letter:

Visa required, except for Residents of the USA if holding:
- Permanent Resident/Resident Alien Card (Form I-551);
- US "Permit to Re-Enter" (Form I-327);
- Employment Authorization Card (Form I-776), provided
endorsed "Serves as I-512 Advance Parole" or "Valid for
Reentry to US";
Visa required, except for Holders of a Form I-512
( Authorization for Parole of an Alien into the United
Visa required, except for Holders of a  Transportation
- Children, up to/incl. 15 years of age, being nationals of
United Kingdom, are not allowed to enter the USA on their
parents passports.
- Minors traveling unaccompanied, or accompanied by one parent
or a person other than parent/legal guardian,
- Visa required, except for minors seeking residency; provided

Additional Information:
- An expired Permanent Resident/Resident Alien Card (Form
I-551) with a 10-years validity at time of issuance, is

- If the passport shows a stamp "processed for I-551 temporary
evidence of lawful admittance for permanent residence valid
until receipt of I-551 employment authorized , such stamp is
to be considered Form I-551.
- Transportation letters issued to lawful permanent residents
of the US are being replaced by "Lincoln Boarding Foils".

- Passengers who have visited Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone
within the last 21 days must enter the US at Atlanta (ATL),
Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK) or Washington
(IAD)  and are subject to screening and medical checks upon


Vaccinations not required.

- Those entering on a K-1 or K-2 visa must hold a medical form
FS398 and X-ray plates of chest (full size not necessary).

This information is from TIMATIC, the computer system that the airlines use to decide whether they can let you on the plane. There is free access to it here: http://www.staralliance.com/en/services/visa-and-health/

  • This is great information. Can you tell me the source, please?
    – Dancrumb
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:39
  • 2
    @Dancrumb This information is from TIMATIC, the computer system that the airlines use to decide whether they can let you on the plane. There is free access to it here: staralliance.com/en/services/visa-and-health
    – Calchas
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:41
  • "You will be admitted to the United Kingdom with your expired passport." That assumes the airline will let him on the plane to go to the UK in the first place.
    – user102008
    Jun 22, 2015 at 23:54
  • @user102008 It assumes a lot of things, such as the aircraft won't crash on the way. ;) The airline has no reason to deny the customer aboard. He is in possession of all the required documents to travel to the UK. To know if certain documents are required or not the airline will check TIMATIC, which is what I posted above. Every country has its own rules, some don't require passports at all (e.g. ID card is fine for entry to Schengen), so the airline really does have to check the database.
    – Calchas
    Jun 23, 2015 at 0:20
  • @Calchas: It also says a US permanent resident with a green card doesn't need a passport to go to the US from anywhere (which is true as the US government is concerned). But in fact pretty much no airline will board a passenger on an international flight without a passport; and the US government does not force any airline to do so. The fact is that the requirements for airlines to let you board are often very different from the requirements that the destination country have to let you enter.
    – user102008
    Jun 23, 2015 at 2:48

This page on passport applications says that the six week turnround is for first time applicants, and that renewals take around three weeks. Assuming your passport is only recently expired you can usually renew it.

I haven't checked if they will send a passport abroad. Yo may need a friendly Brit who will receive your passport and forward it, and you may need to pay some express courier fees both for the new passport and the documents you have to mail.

Or you could visit the UK next year.

  • Thank you! That's great news! They will send a passport abroad, for a fee.
    – Dancrumb
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:06
  • 1
    @Dancrumb That page is for people in the UK already, not for those abroad. Unfortunately, an in-person interview may be required, so it is not as simple as posting the passport and waiting for it to come back. If OP were in the UK he could renew his passport on the same day if urgently required and the passport centre had time to accommodate him (gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently). The problem is that now renewal of passports is no longer handled by embassies or consulates but they send it back to the UK. gov.uk/overseas-passports/y/usa/renewing_new/adult
    – Calchas
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .