Mon | Jul 26, 2021

Immigration Corner | Emergency travel documents

Published:Tuesday | March 12, 2019 | 12:21 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am a British national living abroad and I need to travel quickly but I do not have a passport. Please advise me how I can obtain one quickly.


Dear S.A.,

Persons can apply for an emergency travel document, which is sometimes called an ‘emergency passport’, if they are abroad, need to travel and cannot get a passport in time. Please note that if persons are in the United Kingdom, they should apply for a passport urgently.


With respect to eligibility persons can apply for an emergency travel document if all the following apply:

• They are British nationals

• They are outside of the United Kingdom

• The passport has been lost, stolen, damaged, is full, has recently expired or is with HM Passport Office or a foreign embassy

• They do not have time to renew or replace the passport before travel

• They can provide proof of their travel plans. For example, booking confirmations or detailed written travel plans, if they cannot book ahead.

Please be aware that persons, usually, cannot get an emergency travel document if they have never had a United Kingdom passport. Those persons should apply for a passport instead.

Emergency Travel Document

A person can use an emergency travel document to travel to their destination through a maximum of five countries. He/she can normally use it to return to the country from which he/she had applied, if living there.

Please note that the travel plans, that is the countries and dates, will be printed on the emergency travel document. If the travel plans change after receiving the emergency travel document, that person will need to apply for a new one.

That person may need a visa to leave the country they are in or to travel through other countries with the emergency travel document. It is important that checks be made with the embassy or consulate of each country. If the final destination is the United Kingdom, border staff will keep the emergency travel document upon arrival. Please note that border staff at a different final destination might also keep the document.

How to apply

Persons can apply online at a cost of £100 for an emergency travel document. The fee is not refundable and can be paid online as part of the application. If not, persons will be asked to make payment over the phone.

In addition, persons might need to attend an appointment at the British embassy, high commission or consulate after applying online. Persons will be told after they have submitted the application whether an appointment is needed and they will need to give a contact telephone number and email address as part of their application.

The emergency travel document will normally be ready in two working days and those persons will be told after they have applied how and when they will get their emergency travel document.

Please be aware that a person can apply for an emergency travel document and book an appointment for someone else if they are a British citizen. However, the applicant might have to attend an appointment and he/she must collect their emergency travel document in person.

Just for completeness, if an application is made for a child under 16 years of age, he/she will need to attend an appointment. Both parents should go with the child/children if possible. If neither parent can attend, they will need to send a signed consent letter.

All the best.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: